Posted by: Shanna Germain | 04/16/2010

Pg. 216: The House On Hummingbird Lane

The pupperino, who never sits still. Unless she’s lying on the heater vent.


Today is my last day at what I’ve been calling (at least in my mind) The Hill House. Not because it’s Shirley Jackson-esque, but because it’s, well, on a hill.

I’ve been here a month, surrounded by trees and hens and art and southwestern colors that reflect away the gray and bring in the rare Oregon sunshine. Today, the windows are open, the dishes are clean, the puppy is waiting patiently for her owners to return and I am packing. Again.

Tomorrow I land back in the hustle and bustle of P-town. I’ll be there through the end of June. First, staying with some old-soon-to-be-new-friends in NE (yeah, I know that’s an odd tag. but it feels right), then house-sitting again.

After June, I have. no. idea. Not a one. That’s a scary and wild feeling, it really is, to know that in many ways (minus money, of course), the whole world is open to you. What do you choose when you have that much choice? How do you choose?

When (and if), I have an answer, I’ll let you know!

Far and fast, s.

Garden typewriter. Can’t imagine why I like it here.


Posted by: Shanna Germain | 04/01/2010

Pg. 215: Reflections

Self-portrait with garden and mirror, taken on March 31st at the Artsprings Writing retreat in the Oregon Wilds.


Well, this is it, ladies and gentlemen. The semi-final post of Chapter 37 (I say semi-final for two reasons: one, it  makes me less sad and two, I plan to update here occasionally when I’m traveling around in the future). After a year’s worth of traveling, blogging, shooting photos, and writing five-minute poems, I’m closing this chapter of my life and moving on to something new.

That something new is Chapter 38, a year-long brain-bounce of learning a new thing a week! I’m so excited about this endeavor — in some ways it sure doesn’t sound as exciting as traveling for 365 days, but this is something entirely new for me, to tackle a wide variety of skills and experiences, one each week, and to share the experiences with all of you via photos, videos and text.

To those of you who’ve been with me for the last year, or even part of the last year, I can’t say thank you enough. You made it worth the work, the ride, the laughter, the pain, the “oh my god, I can’t think of anything to say.” People have said to me, “Oh, why do you give that writing away for free? You could make some money for it.” But in truth, I made so much more by sharing the experience with all of you. You bolstered me, held me up, supported me, made me laugh and gave me the courage to go on. I appreciate you more than I can say — each of you, for all you gave me this year.

As I finish up Chapter 37, I won’t say goodbye, because I hope you’ll come along with me on this new adventure! Bring your hearts and and your hands and your brains, and get ready for a whole new ride…

Far and fast and with all your synapses firing, s.


“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”  ~Anatole France

My birthday gift from A. I couldn’t resist adding it, because it’s just so perfect.


Posted by: Shanna Germain | 03/31/2010

Pg. 214: Slow We Go

Oh, the gorgeous and slimy company I keep out here in the Oregon Wilds! It’s like that Dr. Seuss book, only even weirder.


I’ve been procrastinating on writing here. Why? Because I’m coming to the end of Chapter 37. It’s been a year since I started this blog, since I took off of my trip around the world, since I found an online community that I love and respect and take so very much inspiration from.

This year, my thirty-seventh year, was perhaps the most amazing of my life. And I mean amazing as in inspiring awe in all things. I lived abroad, traveled my own country as well as a couple that weren’t mine, wrote A LOT of stories and essays and poems, met people that I will love forever and ever, fell the most ill I’ve ever been in my life (thanks to a small tick and Lyme Disease), got scared a lot, got courageous a few times, got lost a lot, found a few things, found myself, lost someone that mattered to me more than anyone in the world. I made a lot of mistakes and a few smart, good choices. I learned more about who I was, who I am, and who I’m becoming.

Chapter 37 wasn’t what I expected, not at all. Not one iota of what I expected. But I wouldn’t take it back or trade it. Not even those moments when Lyme had me so down I couldn’t eat, get out of bed or type. Not even the losses, because everything becomes something else, and if you nourish it and love it, there is a good chance it will become something better.

I don’t plan to stop traveling — in fact, I already have some travel plans lined up — so my goal is to continue to blog here very occasionally when I’m going to a new (or old or new to me) place. But it’s time to let go too, to move on to something new. That something new is Chapter 38.

I hope you’ll come back tomorrow and visit as I say goodbye to the heartbreaking, awe inspiring, mindbending, road unending year that it’s been, and announce my plans for this coming year. I’ve loved traveling with you all, I’ve loved every minute, every mile, every map and meter and moment. Thank you, a million times over for sharing this with me, for inspiring me onward, for helping me jump and run and live.

Far and fast, s.

The things you miss if you don’t slow down and look at them. I thought he was a really cool shaped leaf until he blinked at me.


Posted by: Shanna Germain | 03/28/2010

Pg. 213: Snap, Crackle, Pop

It’s cold and wet here in the Oregon Wilds. The house is beautiful because it’s full of tile and windows, but that definitely makes for cold days. Cutting kindling is a morning ritual I’ve come to love. The heft of the hand-made axe, the solid snap into the wood, the crack of pieces splitting.


My starter-fire stance. Yeah, I’m sure it’s an odd one — I never took Boy Scouts and I didn’t last past the first meeting in Brownies (too much sitting and too many rules, as I remember), so it’s a fire-building plan of my own origin. Sometimes it works. Often, it doesn’t.


The result, when the fire does work and the sun pops out to shine through the trees for a few minutes. It’s a good place to be, a good place to get warm, a good place to write. I’ll miss it when I leave.


Far and fast, s.


“As soon go kindle fire with snow, as seek to quench the fire of love with words.” ~William Shakespeare

Posted by: Shanna Germain | 03/27/2010

Pg. 212: Five-Minute Poem

Five-minute poem. Care to join me? Share your own, inspired by the photo above or the poem below.



I’m doing good. And then, today, this:
Tears and rain in torrent, in floods held too long in cloud.
Mad scramble for bra and socks, shoes and hat, tangling in them.
Rabbit goes through the hole, comes out again, his ears caught in laces.
I haven’t run in years. Not since there was something
to run away from.
Or to.
The gravel turns to mud turns to river turns to blood.
I’m not racing anything. I can’t even catch my own breath.
There are things I’m afraid of here. Long brambles that scratch
and cut, roads that go to nowhere, winged things that buzz
my mouth and want the curled pink of my ears.
There are things I’m afraid of everywhere.
My father is a runner. There’s something in him that needs to move.
I don’t know why or how or if that matters to this poem, but as I run,
I picture him sitting, one leg on a lawn chair after knee surgery,
his fingers drumming a path on the arm through a long summer night.
We went for a walk later, slow, and I thought about age, the way the
body succumbs to the weight of what we carry.
The run today? You made me cry. It’s as simple as that. As complicated.
It wasn’t even you, or the loss of you or the
so many years gone gain of you.
It was the way of you, the away of you.
I’m not running away from anything.
I’m not running toward.
I’m just here, now, stopped-time, still motion, suspended animation.
One leg poised, step-siding a deer print, a coyote print, an imprint
in the muck of where we’re never going, where we’ve never been.
Tomorrow I will feel this, the way
muscle tugs on bone tugs on breath tugs on lung.
Tomorrow I will feel this, the way
fists fingers fears untangle loosen let go of hearts.
Posted by: Shanna Germain | 03/25/2010

Pg. 211: Puff the Magic

Some kind of puff-ball fungus or shroom? I’m guessing? But I have no idea what kind. Some kind of magical being of the forest, no doubt.


It rained today. A lot. All day. Big fat cold rain that splattered the windows and dampened the dog and made the mud slosh my galoshes.

I had fully planned to go for a hike today, to walk these woods and get to know them and speak the names of newts on the back of my tongue and whisper soft to the moss.

Instead, I mostly sat inside and watched the fire and wrote words that I didn’t know I could write. There is fat chinook salmon in the stove and dark beer in the glass and more wood for the fire. The rain and night and the words fall like stars from the mouths of gods.

Far and fast, s.


Posted by: Shanna Germain | 03/24/2010

Pg. 210: Sun Through The Heart


Sunny day, with clouds.

Light filters through leaves and petals and wispy white things and golden strands of hair. Water trickles through the mud and roots and ponds and the dog’s legs. Flame burns away left-over directions and yesterday’s bagel bag and this morning’s splinter-chopping and a year’s worth of salted tears. Words flow from my mouth and my fingers and the neurons that tick-tock in the silence of my brain.

Sunny day, with clouds.


Far and fast, s.


“You can close your eyes to the things you do not want to see, but you cannot close your heart to the things you do not want to feel.” ~Unknown

Posted by: Shanna Germain | 03/22/2010

Pg. 209: Chicks & Eggs

Strutting chicken prepares for her next set of dance moves: doing the worm.


It’s been a long time since I had chickens in my life. In my youth (the Girl Formerly Known as Cow Milker), we had chickens. Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks. (Segue: I always loved the names of chickens, perhaps more than the creatures themselves. And as it turns out, Barred Rocks are also known as Plymouth Rocks, something I never knew until now. Or perhaps I once knew it and it’s been long-forgotten, along with college algebra and the names of the members of Duran Duran. Two Johns, right?).

One of the sounds of spring at my childhood home was the peep-peep-peep of baby chicks. From the bathroom. Where we kept them in a kiddy pool surrounded by heat lamps. Now, my recollection of this might be hazy, since I know that a kiddy pool would not have fit in the bathroom, but still, that’s what I remember. Or maybe the kiddy pool was in the cellar. Which would make more sense, size-wise and in terms of the cats, who probably wanted nothing more than a tender, pre-heated chicken dinner.

Chickens are good birds. (I want to say — I don’t think there are bad birds, per se, but there are definitely some boring birds). I’ve never been much of a bird girl (sorry sis!), but I like chickens. They make this soothing clucking noise, they eat the flying kinds of bugs that would like to dive-bomb my face if left uneaten, they also eat all of the leftover veggies and fruits, they do this awesome little sitting thing when you stand above them that makes them easy to catch and move around, and they lay eggs. Lots of eggs. Four chickens. Four eggs. Per day. Right now, I’m on a mission to give away free eggs to anyone who will have them (or who is unsuspecting and will let me hand them anonymous packages labeled “Fragile.” Also, if you have any egg recipes, I will gladly have them.

Unimpressed Chicken is Unimpressed.


Chickens are mostly smarter than they seem, and probably smarter than humans in general. They go inside at night to sleep, they come running in the morning because you might have food and if you don’t, then you probably brought a swarm of bugs and thus even so you have food, they stand still for the camera (mostly). And they know the joy of laying down in a patch of sun-warmed dirt and getting comfortable. Also, they will find any way out of anything, just for the joy of it, and will return back to their shelter if you offer food, or the promise of food, or just the sound of your own voice, calling them home.

Far and fast (with wings and eggs), s.

Fresh-laid eggs, plus dog disguised as a bear.


Posted by: Shanna Germain | 03/21/2010

Pg. 208: Oregon Wild

My new Scotland-inspired Wellies. Perfect for slogging through mud, feeding chickens and kicking tires.


After ten or twelve incidents, namely getting stopped by the cops while walking, having a twice-delayed plane (first time for a communication equipment malfunction, the second time because the replacement plane got backed up over the… uh… luggage cart), getting a flat tire and various other maladies, I have arrived in the Wilds of Oregon!! (Yes, it must be said aloud like that, with capital letters and exclamation points).

I am here for a month, writing, cooking, walking, mellowing out after too much cityscape and too much time devoted to things other that wellness and words. I’ve forgotten what the sound of nothing is. And what it means to live without having to watch clocks, watch people, watch myself.

Here, it’s just me tap-tapping the keyboard and the dog barking at nothing and the chickens making nesting noises as they gather in for the night to lay eggs. Peace.

I’ll have lots more to say on this soon, I’m sure — it’s the final month of Chapter 37, it will be my 38th birthday in a few weeks, I’ve remembered why there is part of me that wants to leave cities behind forever and return to the green. But for now, I’m going to walk in the woods and see if I can’t scare up a newt or an owl or some hidden part of me that only comes out beneath trees.

Slow and serene, s.

The Little House in the Woods. Actually, it’s quite a big house.


“By reading Huckleberry Finn I felt I was able to justify my act of going into the mountain forest at night and sleeping among the trees with a sense of security which I could never find indoors.” ~Kenzaburo Oe

Posted by: Shanna Germain | 03/14/2010

Pg. 207: Look Back


This is where it all began. Almost a year ago. I know it’s early to talk about this year of travel as though it’s been completed, because in truth I have one more plane ride and one more car ride to take before I land at the way-out-in-the-woods writer’s retreat that will end these twelve months. But I’m already thinking ahead, moving on to what might be next, planning. I’m a good planner.

And I’m looking back. There’s a lot of joy and excitement and love and pleasure in those backward glances. But a lot of melancholy and fear and stress and pain and life-changing-too-fast in my rearview mirror as well. It’s been a year of serious growth and stretching. And also a year of regression and shrinking. Which, I guess, is how it’s supposed to be. I am just lucky enough to have been able to write it all down so that I can look back over it and remember, and feel these things again, and be buoyed by all of you who have come along on this ride with me.

A year, when you look at it under the microscope of writing, stretches out. A year becomes a long time.  A long time to be on the road. A long time to remember. A long time to forget.

Far and fast, s.


“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” ~Winston Churchill

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