King Of The Mountain / Ollie - VER
Queen Of The Sky / Emma
Ollie was only 2 ½ months old the first time he witnessed the mystery of the mountain. With an extremely nervous and most likely FOOLISH Father, Ollie was able to cling to his Papa’s chest one year ago and summit to the top of the 2nd highest mountain in the Wasatch Range. After returning home from our accent that beautiful summer’s day I had my doubts that Ollie would see her (Mt. Timpanogos) over the next several years. He was slowly putting on weight and by the time the season would arrive I was positive that he would be too heavy for me to carry to the top.
Machu Picchu / Emma
Emma returned home from her Peruvian adventure and service with a beautifully driven and vibrant outlook on goals and life. There was a bright light beaming from her pupils that illuminated the MTN upon her arrival. One night after tending the garden and finishing the days work she turned to me with a schemish smile. “Let’s hike Timp together.” I stood there, staring, wondering if I had heard what I THOUGHT I had. Could this be? Was this an honest offer? Had my hearing failed me? “You want to hike Timp!?” I responded shortly after. “Yes…Let’s do it.” This was an incredible thing to hear from my lover’s mouth. At the tender age of 16 she had summited to the top of this gorgeous mountain with a high school group of friends. The hike was long, rigorous, torturous even, and she vowed to never hike the mountain again. Every spring I ask her to join me in my summit to the top, and every year I get a resounding “NO”, and so to hear an actual offer to be joined by her to the top was something I thought I’d never hear. We made a plan to hike it in a week and half, before the sun became to bold and a bit after some of the winter’s mist had melted from the ridges that lined the unruly landscape. Tuesday, June 24th, the date had been set. Monday, the 23rd quickly arrived and preparations were in order. We packed the bags with sandwiches and Lara bars, water bottles and dried goats milk. Weather and mood permitting, Ollie would see the top of the great mistress once again.
“Buzz…..buzz….buzz.” 4:45 AM and it was time to get up. Eggs, toast, coffee and the car was quickly loaded. Ollie was pulled from his sound slumber and with little effort placed in his car seat. Not too much was said from our driveway to the trailhead. Maybe it was the fatigue, the lack of sleep, or MAYBE it was the mental exhaustion that came from the thought of hiking 7 miles up the side of a mountain, I really can’t be too sure. We placed our apparently sleepily little man in his hiking backpack and started up trail that would eventually lead us to the top of the range. Within the first mile Ollie was extremely unimpressed with the adventure upon which we had embarked that early Tuesday morning. After 30 minutes of constant screaming I began to wonder if it was possible to make it to the top with any shred of sanity left. Soon thereafter he began to calm down and the hike started to become painfully beautiful. The scenery through which one passes on the trail is some of the finest that I have ever had the privilege of being in. A different face / flower / foliage at every turn. From forest to meadow to snow and rock.
Father / Son / Peace.
We made it up and over the first “point”. I believe they call it “The Meadow”, the sun was stealthily hiding behind the cover of pouty clouds, shedding a soft light over the mountain. We stopped and got out our sandwiches and let Ollie run his hands through the dirt, much to my surprise he seemed content for having had to ride in a saddle-style backpack for the past 3 hours and took his bottle with much anticipation. We knew that we still had a mighty distance to go and so we didn’t dally too long in the meadow. As we made it up the side of the mountain that leads to the area known as “The Saddle” (which is most likely due to the fact that it is the lowest, most saddle-like section of the ridge), which overlooks the entire valley, there was a very steep patch of snow, and the only way to make it to the saddle, not to mention the summit, was to cross this part of the trail. I looked at the area and analyzed my options. 1) Turn around and head back down the mountain. 2) Cross the patch of snow and hike to the summit. 3) Try crossing the patch of snow and slide down the side of the mountain to costly hospital bills or death. Now, I had my baby boy strapped to my back, and what I would deem to be a sharp sense of what I can and can NOT do. I put my foot on the skinny, 12-13 inch wide trail of icy snow and decided that I would be able to cross the section without any problems. The patch was maybe 25 meters long and at about half way, with my lover behind me, I deemed my decision to be a foolish and absent-minded one. The footpath was much to skinny to turn around and I felt it safer to proceed than to try and turn around
. All three of us made it across the patch, but I sincerely regretted coming across. What would I have done had I slipped? I could’ve easily caused harm to not only myself but to my son, and/or my lover, all for the silly pursuit of triumph.
Mother & Child / Top Of The WORLD
Above the Saddle / Emma
Meadow Lark / Emma
As we approached the saddle and looked over the other side that faces the west side of the mountain I stood in amazement of the smallness that I felt, the insignificance that penetrated my body. It is humbling / beautiful and real, that feeling of lightness that comes with realizing your microscopic being is such a small piece to the giant puzzle of existence. Oh, the magic of that sentiment. From the saddle the hiker is about a mile from the top. At this point my back/shoulders were really feeling the weight of my baby boy, but we were determined to make it to the top. I had done it once before when he was younger, and there was very little that would have the power to stop me from reaching the top. We faced the wind and up we went, higher and higher until there was nothing left to climb. I felt invincible, and exhausted. I looked at my lover and my boy and felt overwhelmed for my life with them.
We had made it to the top of the world in 4 hours, and it wouldn’t be for another 3 before we were back to the bottom. The experience drew me closer to my boy, to my lover and to my inner workings. Life and Love in the greatness of the mountains is incomparable to anything I have experienced.
Yeah, I Love Her / Kissin In Heaven
I could barely contain my emotions as my brother held the newly born body of the multi-colored baby goat. Elle (one of the two first goats I ever brought to Willamette MTN) had been living, along side our White Angora Angel, Shirley, at my brother’s half-acre lot for the past month. He had needed some of his land grazed down and I suggested that he take two of my five ladies to his place for a spell to help avoid using a lawnmower. I knew that Elle and Shirley would love it over there. It is a full half acre lot, made for animal grazing, cherry eating, bee keeping and with a bucolic view of the Wasatch Mountains there wasn’t a question in my mind that the two ladies who had been living at Willamette MTN would thoroughly enjoy themselves there.
Earlier that morning I received a phone call from my brother, frantically he explained that Elle had been pacing back and forth around the yard and crying. She had been pawing at the ground and rubbing her head against the walls. “It’s a sure thing, she’s about to go.” I said. “I am going to pile Ollie into his bike seat and we will start heading over, I had plans of going to visit the George’s anyways. Has her water broken.?” My brother ran outside to inspect Elle’s backside and came back to the phone with an inconclusive “I am not sure.” I grabbed a Cherry Pie Larabar, handed it to Ollie, after putting him in the bike trailer, and we started towards Pleasant Grove. My recording session for the day wasn’t to begin until 10am and so I had just enough time to check on Elle and Shirley, race to the hospital to check in on the George’s and their brand new baby, and make it back to the MTN for some sound recordings.
“She’s been just pacing back and forth.” My brother informed me. I looked at her backside and saw that her water hadn’t broken yet. “She still has a couple of hours, maybe, and then the world’s gonna change. Get ready for a new life, world! Hell, maybe two….Buuuuttt.. She really ain’t that big.” I said with confidence. “I gotta head to the hospital to see Timmy, you know that they had that babe yesterday, yeah?” “Ah, that’s right. Tell them hi for me.” And like that Ollie and I were off to the next stop. It seemed that the world was changing too quickly. SO much life, so much NEW life. But all around me it seemed that things were stayin’ the same. Just three days earlier I had started a recording for a Virginian man that had come to town to make some sounds on record. Six and a half hours into the session and we decided to take a 15 minute break. I made my way outside and over to the goat house. Dottie was next to the fence and rubbing her head profusely against it. She kept pawing at the ground and rolling on to her side. I went to her side and noticed that her water had broken. Within minutes Dottie was in full “GET THIS BABY OUT” mode. She screamed as I rubbed her back and within minutes the first of her two baby boys was born. Luke (The Virginian) assisted me by grabbing water and rags, as Dottie arched her back again I could see that there was another baby inside. Again, not much different than the first, she pushed the baby boy out and like that the world was richer.
Birth 1 / Dottie / Willamette MTN
Birth 2 / Assistant / Willamette MTN.
Babies / Willamette MTN.
Babies 2 / Willamette MTN
I pulled my JCPenny 10 speed racer and carrier up next to the flowerbeds outside of the local hospital and headed in. The receptionist looked up and immediately back down after seeing Ollie and I. “That was strange…” I whispered to my boy. We found the room number and met, for the first time, the heir to the George estate. Mr. River, a beautiful baby boy had made his way deep into the hearts of his two loving parents. I was honored to meet him and to see my old friends. I could sense that the two new parents were tired and soon after arriving Ollie and I got back on the bike and we were off, back to the MTN.
River George / AF Hospital
Isaac and Luke were already in the thick of it, working on bass lines for his record. I was a bit winded from the ride and sat on the couch in the studio, taking in the mornings/weeks events. My pocket rumbled with conversation
[Via TEXT message]
“Elle’s water just broke. Get here.”
“…Oh, boy…Fellas, I gotta go. Elle’s water just broke, and Colby is gonna need some assistance.” They granted their permission for my removal and I raced back to my brother’s house.
I jumped out of the car and ran around back where Elle and my brother were both on the ground, underneath the honey locust tree.
“How’s she doing?” I asked. “She’s doin great, she’s in a lot of pain, but the babe is already crowning. This guy is comin out soon.” My brother put on latex gloves and we massaged Elle’s back while she pushed with all of her for the safety of her little one. I felt overwhelmed with the experience of the births that I had recently been apart of and as Elle pushed that beautiful baby boy out I felt a flood of emotions rush over me and my eyes lit up. I looked over to Colby and he couldn’t stop chanting: “Oh, my gosh, Oh, my…” It was amazing. Just as we started to wipe down the babe Elle stood up and out her backside popped a little head, gasping for air.
“THERE’S ANOTHER ONE IN THERE!” My brother yelped. We immediately took action and helped (or at least we would like to believe) Elle get the second babe out. The whole thing was an emotional/spiritual/unbelievable experience. As she lay there, cleaning her babes, my brother and I discussed the wildness of life, the connections / relationships that we form with these animals and with our own (family, friends, etc.). “It all happens in the blink of an eye.” I said. “What does?” “This. This whole thing. The birth, the growth, the life, the suffering / love / happiness / and then death. It just happens so quickly, and these connections, these moments / experiences, they are all we really have..” We both sat there, staring into nothing, considering the moment. “I am really glad I could just experience that with you.” Colby finally said. “Me too.”
Birth With Brother / Pleasant Grove
Birth With Brother / Pleasant Grove
Elle and Babes / Pleasant Grove
King of the MTN / Ollie-VER.
Today is Father’s Day. I feel mighty PROUD to say that I am a part of it, and in so many ways. A Father of nurture and sustenance to the many animals that I live amongst. To be a part of all of their lives has shown me how to give a bit, how to sacrifice a bit, how to respect and stand in amazement of species to whom I don’t belong. I am the Father of a beautiful baby boy, our journey has just begun and I am still (and forever will be) learning what to do, and how to do it. I hope that one day he might see how I feel for him. And then! Then there is a mighty tree, a focused and dedicated man to his beliefs, to his family and to his workings in whatever it is that is asked of him. A shining light that no matter how far I might wander from is within reach.
My babe / Ollie-VER
My Papa / Fred James
There are so many things beautiful about bein alive. But there ain’t a one, not even a one that could hold a light to the greatest treasure of my life, ”Fatherdom”.
The having of one.
The being of one.
Today is a good day.
Dirt Life / Lovers of Love.
Dirt Life / Fruits of Labor / Life & Death.
Dirt Life / Simplicity / King of Soil.
“I can’t even say goodbye,” Emma muttered as we pulled up to the Salt Lake City International Airport. The day had arrived for a plane to fly her and a group of other local doctors and nurses to Lima, Peru for an effort to help aid in hygiene and wellness. We knew the day had been close at hand for the past week, but now that it had arrived the emotions were running high.
“Goodbye, Ollie, I’m gonna miss you.” I could tell that it was one of the hardest things she’s had to do for quite sometime. I mean, to be frank, I don’t think I have ever seen her get as worked up as this when I take off (and I take off a lot). You could almost see the connection of mother / son take form as Ollie clung his arms around her neck. No, he didn’t understand that his Mama was leaving, but he could tell that she was upset. With a kiss and an embrace she was off. She slipped through the automatic doors, leading into the terminal, and I sat. It was Ollie and me. In the 8 (almost 9 now, good heavens.) years that I have been married to Emma I have never been left at home, alone. I have been the “leaver” the “taker-offer” the one to abandon the nest in search of food, but I have never been on the other side of it. There is a lonesome air to it that I partially enjoy. But mostly anxiety. I get filled with dread, thinking that something might go wrong, that something might happen that can’t be undone. But then again, that’s just life, and to live it in fear is to NOT live it at all.
Last week, about this time I got a call from my brother.
“Joshua, this is kind of an emergency.” He said on the other side of the line.
“Well WHAT!?? What is going on?”
“I am at the hospital…I came to insta care because I poured some gasoline over that pile of wood in my front yard, I am sure you know which pile I am talking about. Well, anyways, I lit it, after pouring WAY too much gas on it, and it blew up in my face. Half of my body is burned and I am just making sure that the burns aren’t 3rd degree, so I came here.”
I sat on the other side of the line, speechless.
“Are you OK..?” was all I was able to muster up.
“Yes, I think that I am fine, I just wanted to double check, and so I came here. Would you mind driving me up to the University burn clinic to get some ointments for it? I don’t think it will take too long?” He replied.
“Of course, I will be right over.” I left the recording session that I was in and raced over to my brother’s place in Pleasant Grove. The burns had blistered up all and down his arm and shoulder, but fortunately hadn’t gotten his face too bad. We drove to the burn clinic in Salt Lake City and they proceeded to inform him that he would need to have the burn “scraped”. Now, when it comes to skin, the last thing that I would ever want a professional to tell me is that I needed to have mine “scraped”. They then told him that usually the patients that come in take some pain medicine before the procedure because of how painful it is. My brother, being the man, the muscular specimen that he is explained that he didn’t have the time to come back to SLC and that he would rather just do it right then. I winced in the thought and as they prepared his room of torture and tearing I tried to keep his mind calm by talking to him about ANYTHING other than what was about to happen.
“Colby James?” the slightly overweight, middle aged woman said, looking around the waiting room, even though we were the only two in the place.
“Yeah, right here…” He seemed calm, collected, and ready. I waited in anticipation that left my palms sweaty and heart rate high. He came out with a mummy’s arm, wrapped thick with gauze and protective ointments. As we got into the car he explained that it was an extremely painful process and that he should have opted for the meds. We headed back to the valley and spent the day in the shade.
The next day Emma, Ollie and I headed to the mountains to give a go at camping. The whole day was spectacular filled with hikes, cooking and setting up camp. Finding a sense of solace in the woods. At around 9 o clock Ollie laid down. We weren’t sure if the pack n play in the back of my tour van would work but he was soon asleep after laying him down. Soon there after some good friends joined us around the fire. As we discussed the grand mystery the clock turned 12, and from the deep corner of the van I heard a baby cry. It was an irregular sound, one that I had never heard Ollie make. He sounded scared. Both Emma and I went into the back of the van and tried to comfort him, as soon as he would stop crying and appeared ready to be laid back down he would start to scream again. So I sat in the back captain’s chair and had him fall asleep in my arms. The hours passed as I sat in that chair, holding something/someone that means more to me than death. At 3 o clock I was able to lay him down next to his Mama and we slept until 6am, when the sun gave us a dose of light and heat. I made an extremely large pot of coffee over the campfire and the first camping experience was well under our belt.
Hikers Union / Workers Due
Baseball Diamond Blues
Both the camping trip and my brother’s horrific mishap with gasoline and flame happened three days before Emma’s departure. Due to the extremity of the burns that Colby endured my brother has not been able to return to work, which leaves him ample time to relax and collect thought. It (and heaven knows I am NOT wishing this upon him) came at the right time, opening him up to experiences outside of his regular schedule. It has been a beautiful time to spend time with both my boy’s (Oliver and Colby). The time together since the Mama left has been some of the best time that I have spent with my little man. We have been planting, gardening, fixing, painting, shopping, swimming, biking, hiking, blueberries in the park and overall creating a good pool of memory to draw from in the future (mostly for me).
Take it Easy / Take It Slow / Ollie in the Swing o’things.
Sister & Cayo / Ladies Makin’ Babies / Babies Makin’ Mothers
Baby Brother / Uncle Coco / Swimming and No Swimming.
Swimming Sin (without) Ropa.
Cousins in Concert / Provo / Rooftops.
Now, I know that it sounds hokey, and it is (hokey). But I enjoy drawing parallels between life events. It helps me make sense out of the nonsensical situation of life and love. I AM A SELFISH MAN/PERSON/HUMAN. I am focused on what it is that “I” must get done, what “I” am doing, on the songs that “I” have written, and the like (the list goes on and on). The burning of my brother’s arm had a direct influence on me / my brain. When Ollie was born over a year ago, and though it might sound terrible, I felt that my whole body / mind was reworked / burned / changed. The “scraping” has been a longer process for me than it was for my brother in that burn clinic that fateful day. The departure of Ollie’s Mama has helped me come to the realization of the beautiful possibilities of life and the “post-scraping”. Everything moves slower but better. The simple joy, the smile, the raw communication of a “non-talker”, as Ollie is, has helped me let go of the pre-conceived, selfish motives to further the “I” in me.
While Emma is in Peru I will be starting a record with Virginian singer-songwriter Luke Mitchem. He flies in tomorrow and I am in the process of a true juggling circus act. But the lion has yet to eat me, and if I have anything to say about it, I will be the perpetual ringmaster. And “CRACK” goes the whip. And with the blink of an eye we are 16, then 30, then 60, then dead. Every day is our last. Every day a gift. It is hard, and maybe impossible, to live with such a feeling (always). But by golly, I will die tryin’
Oh, the beauty that life gives. LOVE,