The Imaginative Space

I wake up a little after 5:30 a.m., rising slowly to a seated position on the side of the bed. Cold is the first sensation my feet encounter as they touch the hard wooden floor. I shuffle groggily over to the kitchen, gently working out the stiffness in my arches, calves, and knees with each step. Most mornings start this way, with an arthritic hobble to my glass front door to let dog out and make a brief assessment of the weather. It is chilly today. A couple of inches of snow cover the porch and a thick wall of fog inhibits any view beyond 10 feet.

Technically, it is spring, at least according to the calendar, and the past couple of days have certainly suggested as much. The birds are less rambunctious this morning though, as if the joy, outburst, and brashness of spring has momentarily been put on hold. My mind seems to have already transitioned into the next season, and winter’s re-invitation is not welcome. Dog’s unwavering enthusiasm for her early laps in the yard also appears slightly perturbed as she returns to the door, pawing at the glass to be let in, snout and coat covered in snow.

My attention shifts from outside to inside, specifically to the daily ritual of preparing coffee. I just received a fresh bag of beans, micro roasted by Geoff a few days ago–Tanzanian Peaberry Selian Estate. The name sounds fancy with the peaberry denoting a much smaller than usual bean. I poke my nose into the bag, taking a deep inhalation of the delightful, engrossing smell of a fresh roast. I cannot pick up on the subtleties of a specific coffee just by smell, but the aroma is no less satisfying. I grind the bean in a hand-cranked, wooden, Peugeot-branded grinder that my mom found on eBay. The small drawer that collect the grinds is perfect for my six-shot Bialetti stovetop espresso maker. Grinding coffee is a quick process, but takes a bit of work–a first wake-up before sipping on the caffeinated beverage.

With the coffee now heating over a propane flame, I move over to the wood stove to prepare a fire. I fight the urge to check my phone for emails to see what work awaits the day. The slow, analogue connection is the kind that sets my day up right–the right headspace, the right breath and flow. I hew a pine log into kindling with a small hatchet. I can feel a breeze coming down the chimney pipe, meaning I will have to be quick to get this fire going if I do not want to smoke out the house. There is something about the wind patterns that wrap through our spruce tree in a specific way along with a certain air temperature which causes this backdraft, making my task more rushed and deliberate to get the hot air flowing up the pipe. Luckily, a minimal amount of smoke fills the room and the dry wood blazes quickly, offering much welcomed warmth.

The coffee is percolating, a faint rumble turns into a roar, indicating it is ready to drink. I put a couple slices of bacon on the skillet and some eggs. The smell of smoky pine, bubbling grease, and coffee fills the air. When preparing breakfast, I often think of Deanne’s grandmother. I like her attention to detail when making food. There is no rush, no apparent immediacy in the need to eat; rather there is mindful value in the process.

Yesterday, an HVAC professional came up the hill to fix a small gas leak in our crawl space. He mentioned that on the drive up Sunshine Canyon, he could feel the tension from work and the city leaving his body. While I am not sure he would feel the same way today in the snow and fog, he did come up the hill with the right kind of openness that allows to be overcome by the calmer, circadian rhythm of the mountains. Lacing up my shoes, readying myself for a run, I ponder the importance of intentionally warming up to the day in such a manner.

As I jog the first few minutes through the deserted streets, I feel the movement of my body as an outward articulation of my mind. I float through the fog, plunge into the woods, and catch a ribbon of trail, the end of which disappears into the imaginative space.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Do you start your morning calmly and with ritual?
  • Do you find that this ritualistic start to the day facilitates you going into the imaginative space Joe describes?
  • Or, are you able to create an imaginative space in another way?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Joe Grant

frequently adventures in wild places, both close to home (a frequently changing location) and very far afield. He inspires others by sharing his words and images that beautifully capture the intersection of the wilds, movement, and the individual at Alpine Works.