Sunday, March 16, 2014

Howl: Running with the Wolves


I roll over in bed, adjusting my eyes to the darkness and the contrast of silvery moonbeams that dance across the OSB plywood floor, lying under my dense Unique quilt, 20 or so bandanas sewn together, memories that keep me warm in the darkness. 2:36 AM. 


Nudging my husband laying in bed next to me, another <howl> followed by the sounds of footsteps in the snow on the back porch.  “What’s that noise?” I whisper with a shaky, uncertain, half-awake voice, to my mostly asleep husband. 


The last howl sent chills down my spine and I suddenly find myself on my feet. Horizontal to vertical in about a second flat.  By the time my feet hit the floor Parke was already halfway downstairs to explore the source of the howling and shuffling footsteps in the snow.  

“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer – which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.” 
Farley Mowat, Never Cry Wolf

I ran to the bathroom window that looks out toward the barn and in the darkness I see two pointy ears, a big bushy tail, and thick dark coat saunter across the open field in front of the barn with the light of the moon illuminating the path.  


Blinking a few times to put the scene in perspective, as the creature made its way past a burn barrel I realized this animal is too big to be a wolf. Too big to be a wolf.  Then feelings of relief surface when I connect the dots in my sleepy brain. 


Our neighbor’s 150# Alaskan Malamute Mix Husky dog, Cody.  He’s a social guy who likes to come by and say hello from time to time.  The next morning at the end of our driveway at the bus stop I chatted with the bus driver, Cody’s owner, about our nighttime visitor.  Later that day a dozen beautiful mixed chicken eggs were delivered on the afternoon bus, and that is how we started to get fresh, as local as it gets, eggs delivered to our house on the school bus.  An introduction to rural life, one night, one day, one moment at a time. 

“A man might befriend a wolf, even break a wolf, but no man could truly tame a wolf.” 
George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

One morning a few weeks after we first saw The Moose Lodge, my mom called me first thing in the morning, frantic over a dream she had about me the night before. Me and The Wolves.  I’d been run down in the driveway by a pack of wolves, dressed in my running gear that was torn and bloody.  Dead.  That night my best friend had a similar dream. Each called me and told me their dream.  Both dreams hit me hard and deep; I didn’t know how to interpret them.  Literal death? Figurative death?  A sign?  A reflection? A warning about running with the wolves?

“To run with the wolf was to run in the shadows, the dark ray of life, survival and instinct. A fierceness that was both proud and lonely, a tearing, a howling, a hunger and thirst. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst. A strength that would die fighting, kicking, screaming, that wouldn't stop until the last breath had been wrung from its body. The will to take one's place in the world. To say 'I am here.' To say 'I am.” 
O.R. Melling

Friday night found me and Parke out on our back porch gazing at the moon, watching the wisps of clouds float effortlessly across the face of the moon, filtering out the light, creating a hazy glow in the darkness.  I whisper to Parke “It just makes me want to howl at the moon!”, then he howled, a long, lone wolf howl that punctuated the darkness and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The Wolfman. My husband.  

“Those are the voices of my brothers, darling; I love the company of wolves.” 
Angela Carter


A lone call of a wolf replies to my husband’s call, we both erupt in smiles and laughter at the awesomeness of living here, at The Moose Lodge, talking to the wolves.  Then the sled dogs chimed in, followed by a pack of yipping coyotes, and then the wolf.  In our cul-de-sac bound life in Los Anchorage standing on your porch in Labrador Circleville, howling at the moon while standing on your back porch simply would not be tolerated. Period.  The polarity of life at Labrador Circle and life here at The Moose Lodge is still hard to comprehend. Each place a chapter in our lives, but each chapter so completely different. Defining the journey we are on here in The Wild isn’t easy and as the months go on the questions mount and the answers lie in wait.  They will only be uncovered one piece at a time.  Until then, I’m just living the questions and finding my way in this wild, unexpected chapter of our lives.  

“That we can never know," answered the wolf angrily. "That's for the future. But what we can know is the importance of what we owe to the present. Here and now, and nowhere else. For nothing else exists, except in our minds. What we owe to ourselves, and to those we're bound to. And we can at least hope to make a better future, for everything.” 
David Clement-Davies

Seven months ago today we left Anchorage behind, headed North, then East, deep into the interior to the edge of a wide, winding river, framed in by mountains in every direction and sunsets that slip across the sky, stretching rays of golden light out across the tips of the dense taiga forest, kissing the wide open spaces with light, tantalizing and teasing the eyes with sheer light as it dances across the mountaintops bringing light to the dark corners of the landscape, before extinguishing giving way to the darkness, the quiet, the night. 


“There is no better way to know us than as two wolves, come separately to a wood.” 
Ted Hughes

Running with the wolves.
It's time for us to go.

Left all our clothes.
With the car left by the road.

And we were running.
For a reason.
For the burning, in our veins.
And we were running.
For a reason.
We just need to get away.

Running with the wolves.
We're screaming at the stars.
Left all we own.
In a hole in our backyard.

And we were running.
For a reason.
Left our cubicles in little flaming piles.
And we were running.
For a reason.

I need to feel something different for just a little while.

I'm not coming home.
I'm staying with the wolves.

They can burn all my mail.
And disconnect my phone.

Tell my mom I'm sorry, sorry for leaving.
But I'm staying.

Now we're running to find meaning.
We're gone, and we're never coming back.

“Sometimes the one who is running from the Life/Death/Life nature insists on thinking of love as a boon only. Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back. Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many many beginnings- all in the same relationship.” 

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype