Send me on my way

LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN!

vermontgreen

2.5 months around the 🌎  for climate / water stories (of course), starting now:

Montpelier –> Montreal –> Chengdu –> Beijing –> Copenhagen –> Stockholm –> Chicago –> Boston

Goals for this trip:

  • Record water / climate change stories in each place
  • Learn whatever it is that the journey has to teach me
  • Get more comfortable taking portrait photographs

I bought a used DSLR camera & I’m learning my way around the different settings / breaking through the shyness that I have of photographing people.

This is my friend Cora Brooks in Montpelier, VT. She writes poems and taught me how to bake bread.

We met 5-ish years ago through the archives at the Schlesinger Library, where I was doing a research project on poets who have their papers archived there.

I started alphabetically by last name, elbow deep in grey boxes and filing folders. After a few weeks I realized that Cora was still alive (most people donate their papers only after they’ve passed).

I wrote her a letter. She wrote back. We’ve been writing each other letters ever since.

I’ve visited Cora in Montpelier a few times over the years, and every visit is a new kind of magic. Today we walked to town and ate beetroot and orange gelato.

Cora teaches me how to enjoy slowness. Her home is full of words. She has a cat whose name changes every time I visit. Last time he was Zebra Tattoo. Today he is Barcelona.

Here’s to intergenerational friendships.

Stay tuned for more. I’m looking forward to updating you all from the road.

xo,
D

Auckland to Taranaki

DeviLockwoodCyclingNZ

I rode my bicycle from Auckland to the Climate Justice Taranaki meet up at Marae Muru Raupatu, Aotearoa. My head and heart are full from a weekend of listening and learning about environmental justice struggles against the expansion of the oil and gas industry in New Zealand–layers of stories, at least a century and a half thick. Today is an audio editing day.

Wellington, I am very slowly coming your way!

#tellmeastory

Here are some photos from the ride:
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I took the train from Auckland to Pukekohe and started riding south.

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Big sky, big hills.

 

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This is dairy country. I made friends with cows. Sort of.

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Raglan, NZ. I was taken in by a peripatetic couple with a camper van and learned how to jump under big waves.

 

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My last big bike trip was from Memphis, TN to Venice, LA following the Mississippi River Trail. I’m definitely not in the Mississippi Delta anymore.

 

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Hey, hill. You’re cute. I like hills.

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At the bottom of Mt. Messinger. Yes, I climbed it (fueled by the cheering of many trucks). The honesty of NZ road signs is refreshing.

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Blissed out biker face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunset behind Mt. Taranaki.

 

 

 

 

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Wisdom found on an abandoned beach chair in Marakopa, population 16.

 

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Jandals + Marmite + biking = strength. Well, I’m not that big of a fan of Marmite. But I’m working on it.

 

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Solo female biker power, the selfie. Climbing hills makes me feel alive.

 

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Tunnel to the beach at Waikawau, the most amazing acoustic space.

 

 

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Worn by water––the enormity of geologic time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am most in my element moving slowly on two wheels, gathering stories––listening and writing. Words fuel me. I can’t wait to see what the next week brings.

Diwali

It’s not even dark out and the fireworks have started.

I hear what I cannot see: the pop, and hiss, and crackle of light almost touching the clouds.

This morning at sunrise I got off a plane at the international airport in Nadi from Los Angeles, disoriented but glad to be alive… and in motion. Never mind that the fatigue of time travel had me passed out and motionless for the better part of two days. But cripes, I skipped a whole day! Wednesday October 22nd did not exist.

firstfiji

I’m staying at my friend Aaron’s apartment in Martintar. He’s a photographer and licensed commercial pilot––we met through a mutual friend, Margot, who spent eight months in Fiji last year. I am so grateful to have a connection to get me started.

Story collecting is slow (~1 recording/day), but I’m giving myself permission to sleep and write and figure out things like phone and internet and where the heck I’m going to go, all of which take time. It was easier to improvise in the states. Now I feel untethered, drifting. I’m afraid of making cultural mistakes, but doing my best not to let that fear guide me, or prevent me from having the kind of conversations that this trip is based on.

“Never touch another person’s hair,” Aaron tells me over daal and chicken. “The head is a sacred space.”

Nadi has a very particular smell: toasted spices, warm, damp earth, and salt. The smell was there as soon as I stepped off the plane and onto the jet bridge. The scent does nothing but intensify throughout the day, baking to a steamy crisp of wholeness.

diwalimarket

By mid-afternoon, our downstairs neighbors deliver fried peas and sesame sticks and oblong donut holes and what tastes like a ball of fried rice pudding with cardamom and raisins. Aaron and I split each treat with a knife. I let the sugar melt into my body, though even that can barely keep me awake for more than half an hour at a time.

The sun arches towards the west, piece by piece. Fireworks explode, jubilant in different parts of the city. Tall, proud booms echo off of the mountains and cityscape.

Aaron’s place is right next to the airport. The planes come, harsh and exciting overhead, churning the air around them. The light lengthens to blue.

Laughter wafts up from the first floor. “Flight attendants live down there,” Aaron says, sensing the direction of my listening. Glasses clink. A radio plays “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj.

“Nadi is a passing-through town,” Aaron explains. “No one stays here for long.”

Yellow-beaked myrah birds sing their own song.

Aaron refills the empty Absolut handle of vodka with water boiled from the kettle. “The water in Suva is safe to drink,” he tells me, “but we must boil first. If you drank from the tap, it would be okay. But boiled is best.” His voice has a cadence unlike any I have heard––perfect iambic pentameter. He is always smiling, even when talking about coups and murder.

Between my dry throat and the general heat of the city, we refill the 1.75 liter handle several times throughout the day.

I watch through the bathroom window as a woman in a sari on a second-floor apartment a few buildings away lights an oil lamp, or diya, and places it at the edge of the porch. A man looks on from an outdoor couch under the balcony. It is almost dark. Fireworks go off in every which direction. A rooster hoots. I feel for every dog in the city tonight, how fearful all those booms and bursts must be.

“People tie up their dogs in the centermost room of the house so that they don’t run away. Some still do.” Aaron explains between bites of take-out: kung pao chicken and Chinese cabbage. All of the Indian places are understandably closed.

Aaron shows me how to set up a tripod for my point and shoot and decrease the shutter speed and F-stop to capture the essence of the moving, exploding light.

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“You smell that?” Aaron takes a deep breath.

The whole of the neighborhood is thick with firework residue. A thick haze of it sits over the rooftops.

“Gunpowder!”

I nod.

I fall asleep face-down in his guest room with my clothes still on, fireworks exploding in every direction. The light follows me into sleep, where my mind struggles to make sense of two places at once.

liveagreatstory

venicebeach