Cookery Maven Blog

A Photo Safari In The Penokee Foothills

A Ritual To Read To Each Other


If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep. 

William Stafford

The last stanza in William Stafford's poem resonates with me now more than ever— awake people need to be awake because the darkness around us is deep. We went to the Penokees this weekend for our photo safari because I knew standing among all those beautiful trees and ancient rocks would be a balm for my frazzled mind. Walker signed SB1 into law today and while it most likely will be tied up in litigation for years, mining in the Penokees is a very real threat to the ecosystem of the Bad River Watershed and Lake Superior. As I started down the path to Copper Falls, I asked the trees, rocks, moss and water to show me what to capture with my camera. They spoke loud and clear— there is so much life in the forest if you slow enough to see it.

I found another raven in wood, this time in a pile of snow, not on the beach (see the beach picture here). When I caught sight of him, I knew our photo safari in the Penokee foothills was going to be an afternoon to remember.

Sadie and Will had the entire Sunday free (which hasn't happened for months) and I was so excited to spend a couple of uninterrupted hours with two of my favorite photographers. I was curious to see what would capture their attention as we walked along the trail (you can see Sadie's photos here and Will's photos here). Will, Sadie and I spent the hour drive to Mellen talking about why the mining legislation is bad, why we need to be good stewards of our environment and what happens to society when we lose touch with the Divine and worship the almighty dollar instead. I know, with every fiber of my being, that my kids 'get it' because of their access to the natural world. The only way to appreciate something is to experience it. I doubt any of the men and women who voted for SB1/AB1 know what's it's like to stand on the shore of the Lake, listen to the roar of Copper Falls or look for clues to a tree's identity in the shape of a branch or a whorl in the bark.

Bark has endless iterations of texture, color and movement— it's almost like the bark is a testament to the tree's experiences.

The afternoon flew by— Sadie's feet were cold, Will was hungry and I knew if we encountered one more set of ice-covered stairs, I would go mad or fall flat on my face. We hiked back to the car and found a perfect little snowman on the hood. The kids swear they didn't put it there so I'm sticking with my original story— the forest spirits gave us a happy snowman as our parting gift. It was truly a beautiful afternoon.