Author: Kburrows

Looking out the window…

As most of you know, I spend a lot of time watching. It is my stock and trade as a writer: quiet, anonymous observation that I then try to put into a broader context.

While trying to enforce some semblance of order on my computer desktop, I happened upon this little snippet from a train journey a few months ago. I’m posting it because I like it and as a reminder to remain vigilant and active as our criminally ignored rail system is overtaxed by train after train of oil tanker cars rumbling through, and too often overturning and exploding along, the rail lines we trust and depend upon in our country.

It also is a tiny paean to my favorite American highway, U.S. 2.

“I’m riding Amtrak alongside the hi-line – U.S. 2 — my favorite U.S. highway. It’s not the most beautiful road — far from it. Some would even call it bleak. But I love it. It reduces you to a tiny speck on the high northern plains and places you in a world of space and distances, where trains on the horizon look like pieces from a child’s toy set and towns become tiny huddlings beneath a vast indifferent sky.

Right now, we are passing Williston and the Bakken oil field. It is a crude and barren place of men and machinery and trucks and dust. Part of me says that if I were younger I’d be out here, because this oil rush is a moment in history that will not come again. But another part of me shudders as I look at what we are doing to the land.

This great meeting of earth and sky is now a landscape covered with pipes and FEMA trailers and oil rig machinery. Gulleys are filled with trash, and punctured oll drums and industrial waste lie half submerged in pools of snow melt. This is what lust looks like. We cannot get this oil out fast enough, and we do not care what we have to do to get it. This isn’t a resource being managed, it’s a land being looted and raped.”

Some random thoughts on life, change, moving, and writing from the point of view of a dog

My wife, Louise, and I (and our dear, gentle yellow lab, Lucie) are slowly moving our lives from Minnesota to Portland, Oregon. Moves are always challenging, and equal parts exciting and frightening. The accoutrements of an old identity are sloughed off and a new person emerges. This is easier when we are young because transformation, growth, and discovery are the stuff of which an interesting life is made. As we get older, however, the sense of loss begins to weigh more heavily. The accretion of life’s meaning is tied so much to place and personal history. I am curious to see how much of the old me — the writer, the father, the husband, the man — remains, and to learn whether this is a step forward into a new identity or an untethering and a movement into a personal diaspora.

One change that excites me is the turning of a new page in my writing life. I want to republish my dearest, quietest literary child, A Haunting Reverence, and to do it with the help and involvement of you, my readers. I want to do more public speaking and working with young people. I want to do some reflective writing, perhaps about the inner world of a life in the arts, and I toy with the idea of a writing a novel from the point of view of a dog. When I mentioned this idea to my publisher they blanched and gently escorted me from the room. But, hey, they’re not dog people. You dog folks would understand: who sees more clearly and with better heart than a dog? I’d like to know what a dog has to say about the strange, inscrutable human species and the world we’ve created. The only way to find out is to ask one, and I might just decide to do so.

There’s lots more to write about: new friendships, new insights, new ideas (both half and fully baked), and the fresh encounters that come fast and furious when you embark upon a new life in a new place. Already the stories come pouring forth. I look forward to sharing them with you.