14 August 2013


My Jentel residency has come to an end, and the upcoming days are my re-entry into the usual world. Given the presence of the Perseid meteor shower and that we spent our final two nights at Jentel sitting on folding chairs in the driveway, heads tipped back as we watched these clusters of dust and ice immolate in atmosphere, the idea of re-entry feels appropriate. It's been a summer of overwhelming good fortune, but there's no getting away from the overwhelming part; it's hard to really understand the imminence of the semester and so on.

Before the meteor shower, too, the summer sky shed its usual measure of stars. It’s not that I’ve been particularly attentive to that—I tend to be asleep well before the interesting astronomical features take place—but there’s so much sky, so much night that even I can’t miss it all. 
That’s been the feeling over the whole month: there’s so much good here that some of it must stick, well past the end of our tenure at Jentel. The work was good, the scenery was good, my lovely, lovely fellow residents were more than good, and this is all following in the Jentel tradition of understatement.

Have some pictures:
Like it says on the sign. 
Just a few days into our time together, we thought it was a good idea to take a 4-mile round trip hike to a fire tower none of us had been to on a trail that is not marked at all. (No one will be surprised that it was my idea. I wanted to research something. How hard could it be?) The hike had its challenges (including a need to be a little inclined toward mountain goatishness to get to the actual lookout), but it was worth that much and more. And we stopped to get ice cream together on the way home. That's how you know you've bonded: passing around your order to let five people you just met taste the chocolate malt or rootbeer float or butter pecan milkshake. 

Shadow portrait of the residents, Big Horn Mountains in the distance.

And in Big Horn, Wyoming, Holly discovered she loves watching polo. Because everyone expects polo in northern Wyoming, right?
I had four weekends in the greater Sheridan area. I went to four polo matches, and that was an experience that will get its own writing project of some sort. In the meantime, visit Flying H Polo and Big Horn Polo Club. Also, read Alyson Hagy's spare, beautiful novel, Boleto. I read Boleto last summer, actually, in Montreal, and I will read it again, now, knowing a little more about the backdrop to Hagy's fiction. 

This sky, you know?
Wyoming sunsets. They're all right.
A thousand thanks to the Jentel Foundation. A word I kept using while I wrote postcards to folks was transformative, and it's true. This residency changed the way I think about my work (in some very practical, tangible ways and some not-so-tangible ways) and about myself. At Jentel, where art and the artists that make it are so clearly valued and honored, there was so much burning brightly, sky and self. I'm taking that with me.

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