Exploring the Eternal Moment
Publication Year: 1996
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Thanks to Todd Orjala for helping to shape the manuscript, and to Kristine Vesley for helping with the fine-tuning. And thanks...
Deer Beds: A Prologue
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The telephone jangled at 3:32 A.M. After thirteen years as a firefighter—being randomly paged at any and all hours—my conditioned response to such a nighttime call is amusing. I truly cannot move as fast when awake and in daylight. By the end of the first ring the quilt was off and my feet thumped the floor. I...
The Snow Lotus
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It's a singular season, ripe with old scat, and The Reverend is attentive. The only time he'll allow me to surge past him on skis is when he pauses to vigorously sniff at the winter's accumulation of wolf droppings. I'm pleasantly surprised at how many there are. It's March 21st, and we have heard the local pack...
Snow White and the Timberwolf
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If you slice an apple in half crosswise, the bisected seed pod will appear as a near-perfect five-pointed star, which is, traditionally, a symbol of immortality. In the proper setting— say, a party where wine has nudged the perceptions of the resident metaphysicians (and aren't we all?)—a demonstration can be dramatic...
Blue Velvet Number Nine
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We understood that the black spruce planting site would punish us. The customary habitat of black spruce is wetland, and as Richard said when we first observed the site, "You know you're in trouble when you're planting trees next to marsh marigolds." With intermittent...
The Cosmos and Lysistrata
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I blinked at a universe down in the bog. It was an early morning in late May, and the temperature had been near frost at dawn, about thirty-four degrees. A pregnant dew collapsed out of the ether, heavy as rainfall, and the labrador tea and leatherleaf were beaded and brilliant. Streaming from just over the spruce tops, sunlight glutted the bog, and I was dazzled...
A Damn Idiot
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It was a wet summer in Idaho's Nez Perce National Forest, and the mountains were ripe with wildf lowers. In a meadow above Fish Creek I was cheered by flecks and clusters of color—red, yellow, blue, violet, orange—against a lush backdrop of multiple shades of green encompassed by a cloudspeckled sky. There...
Washing the Sky to Amber
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One sizzling afternoon, as we hunkered down in "the black" next to a charred deadfall, The G-Man said, "Every day out here has at least one moment." I nodded, reckoning the slow hours of monotony and drudgery that are often the most formidable challenge of a wildfire crew. Contrary to vivid impressions offered by the media, boredom...
The Guts of God
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"Tonight/' Loki assured me, "would be an ideal time to die." He's a hopeless liar, and merely a fleeting voice in my head, but in the wake of that stunning passage of the autumnal equinox, I agreed. In principle. Mercury and Jupiter had gleamed briefly on the orange stage of dusk, setting fortyfive minutes behind the sun. The diurnal solar death was gilded with the aroma...
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We figured out later that at the precise moment Pam was in the house talking about Alice, I was crushing her with the left rear wheel of my pickup truck. Pam was telling her colleague Maggie that we had to be careful when Alice, our eighteen-year-old cat, was outside, because she was nonchalant about vehicles and slow to avoid them. We had to deposit...
The Awesome Triple-L
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I wrote a novel once, worked at it off-and-on for nine years. I finished it three times, with each incarnation longer and more complex than the last. A New York literary agent dubbed it "original," but I didn't let that go to my head. I knew she was employing original as a gentle euphemism for weird. As...
Ditching the Future
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When I was thirteen years old, my brother David was seven and a half. Because of that age difference, we weren't buddies. The school system—omnipotent social arbiter—had established us six grades apart. Though most students are analogous by the time of graduation, or at least more alike than different, a...
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I'll call the victim Sulo, and if Neil and I had known his plan, we'd never have invited him into the sauna. I was helping Neil construct a boathouse out of cedar logs a few bright summers ago, and we worked hard at it all day. Neil lit his neighbor's sauna after lunch, and periodically stoked the firebox the rest of the afternoon. We anticipated a relaxing...
Total Eclipse of the Clouds
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The illness punched me. I was stretched out in front of the woodstove, watching a video, and as I stood up, chills consumed me instantly. I shuddered, teeth chattering, and Pam stared from across the room. We were astounded by the sudden violence. My only warning had been a vague scratchiness at the...
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I walked twenty-five miles in a wet snowfall. The route was a labyrinthine trek through the streets of Mankato, Minnesota, a town I'd never seen before I stepped off the bus that morning. I was issued a crude map, but it was nearly useless, and soon smeared. I was at the mercy of small, handmade signs and arrows..
The Magic Puck
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A few years ago I was offered a full-time job—with benefits. The hourly wage was decent and the work didn't sound onerous. It was income and security we certainly needed. Such offers—out of the blue—are rare. I turned it down immediately. Actually, I was surprised at the swiftness of my response. That must mean, I reasoned, that it was the correct decision. But there was...
Tilting Round the Far Spruce
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Like an alchemist with his stone, I carried my skis to the edge of the bog that rings Secret Lake. It was January 28th, and if not for the trail I'd been tramping since early November, I would have wallowed past my knees in snow. "I went out to the hazel wood," wrote W. B. Yeats, "Because a fire was in my head." I went out onto the frozen lake because there was a glow in the east—moonrise. And because there...
An Easy Winter
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It was a mild winter with little snow—an easy one—but I felt lucky to see the spring. Some didn't make it. We drove into that winter on December 1st, winding down the Stingy Lake Forest Road with the headlights off. A misting of snow had painted the gravel white and left the forest black. The snowfall vanished into the woods, settling delicately on leaf...
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When I came to I saw that Brute was still out cold, lying on his back in the volcanic ash. We were fortunate that this wasn't some hairy technical climb, where we were inching around rock outcrops or depending on handholds, because it was the second time in a half hour that we had both passed out. Our...
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Three years in a row I left home for the summer. I had a job with the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho, battling wildfires. My specific position was in "helitack," as a member of a helicopter crew. Our missions included initial attack on fires, medevacs, search and rescue, reconnaissance (visual and infrared), slinging cargo, and the support and retrieval of smokejumpers. It's...
About the Author
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PETER M. LESCHAK is a freelance writer who lives in northeastern Minnesota....
Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 1996
Edition: First edition