Danny James

Tag: backpacking

389: To the light

A man enters a valley such as this, and at last he is quiet. All of his grandeur immediately and rightly disperses into nothingness. A most natural and healthy state is surely quickened to the light.

Patagonia, 2013 - 2014

Patagonia, 2013 – 2014

348: Patagonia part 5

We were lucky with the weather, as fine days seemed to follow us mostly everywhere we went. Though it was the middle of Summer, the temperatures were as high as 30 to mid 30’s in Santiago, then dropped to around 4 deg Celsius I think, in Ushuaia. The wind could be quite fierce at times and meeting up with rain, it made for very unpleasant trekking conditions. Lots and lots of layers needed sometimes and it was always difficult to predict, changing from one moment to the next. It really is a very special place, and probably one of the better things I have experienced in my life so far.

Patagonia, 2013 - 2014

Patagonia, 2013 – 2014

309: Patagonia part 4

No matter now in what city I find myself, when a cold wind is such that it penetrates to the marrow, and scatters the rain into a melee of fine mist-fall visible under a street light, I can’t help but peering up at the brume be lulled smiling into memories den; down the burning corridors of the years winding and strange with yet an air of curiously warm familiarity, as an about-face that points you home after a spell adrift in the world gathering the lessons you needed to have. And I go on though wearily, knowing, towards what light I can see where glowing sits my arrival awaiting, that there is nothing expected of me there and something benign, inviting as a cabin wood-fire, easing as the welcome of a dear friend whose love by absence appreciates to a quality such as decades could not overthrow; images past of cold shining skies and golden smiles that with one look breaches the cocoon that since entombed the heart and with an alchemy of dazzling joviality encircles it. Activation! Roots are agitated. A network, from its periphery to the core engages with a dusty preparatory hum. The spaces flood with a gladdening anaesthesia and that good hibernating heart looking out with puzzled alarm, realising liberty is confirmed and at hand sighs at last a long-smothered rejoicing. The mind out of the static isolates a decibel of laughter saved, the eyes glaze a recollection. A spark catches! Sensitivity swells again, surging an affection spent. Sharp and vivid pictures of captivating scenes and painfully poignant encounters with adorable people, all hauntingly mislaid and lost to the din of fumbling busyness, come rushing now back to me but in fragments of delightfulness burgeoning, and flashes of forgotten insight like a flickering of sunlight through the dusky woods in Autumn. A story emerges out of the stuttering. A frayed slide show of a life lived so far. And it’s a glorious thing being alive and young. Perhaps more so to have been young, when you can finally figure what gift you had, and what you have now. Nature is aware the astounding splendour is, all at once too unbearable and so unfurls it she carefully, so as not to sink the senses unprepared into that seductive lower-most layer of liquid reverie from which the traveller there absorbed might not recover. With the heaping of irreplaceable love and impassable loss revisited, falling resembles flying and visa versa, and tardily will follow the relief that ever the things that took, shook you, and changed you so profoundly even happened at all, and slow to ripen is the emotional stability to stand it. These are the very things that being young, both marvellous and more difficult make: Risk without reservation, for the years ahead are many that you have to get over anything, and the soul here stands at a greater hazard by its own fearing. You leapt more. Antagonized the dangers and considered less the consequences of an etherial trusting of greater things. Divine and battered, by god, by Nature, by whatever you lived! Forget me not.
Once in a lifetime friendships made in an instant and achingly touching moments that tattoo the heart and can never last. Soaring highs and crushing lows, such as you will never entirely overcome, and so you find the percepts a place of safe-keeping for the days when strength is enough. Or you will be twenty or thirty years from here standing in a room wondering why you came there because by some skip in the consciousness, your automation of thought had broken up and you forgot your reasons. Your staring out of the window now, groping in the vacancy trying to place your steps, all of them up to this point, beginning at the last time you were surprised like that, though you’ve woken with a start it seems each morning ever since. Somewhere on the other side of a deep fog where lost things dwell, and scattered like a whisper on the wind, a cry paled at a divide, faint as an angles feather falling on a cloud; an echo of a ghost trying to reach you through the noise. What to do? There is the panic and pandemonium of a siren wailing but you don’t hear a sound. And at nexus of halls are you compelled, drawn like a canary down a hole, down a passage unlit, scared and helpless, in which appears at the far off nethermost middle, at a mere bend perchance in a Labyrinthine weave of memories, a frantic, pleading, limping dot, that recedes the more with your apprehension to approach. You are afraid of course, of what might reflection find, until above all pervades a sudden understanding of a broad and foreboding necessity to resuscitate this failing glimmer in the randomness, the trying pulse of some gravely important and completed sensory brush grasped by the psyche and secured away to the recesses on purpose. Your guardians last attempt.
Just as your daring rises to plenitude and looks your Goliath surmountable, you are about to lunge into the abyss of its jaws when suddenly there is a noiseless flash you can’t compute that engulfs the entire in a white wave, and in the next second your blinking up at a sun so bright and tranquillising as will appear in a dream, and it is the most breathtaking and magnificent vision of effulgence you have ever seen. You swim in the daze and drench of satisfying light beaming out over a glacial wall so mammoth and crystal-blue that can’t the eyes read a cease of its largess, nor the mind fathom a more beguiling allure. All tension melts away in that swoon, all regard for time and presence softly detaches and disperses, for here you are amid the ongoing and unbelievable that is Patagonia. It locks you up in a silence and furious bewilderment. Your smallness and responsibility moves you to tears as well a feeling of overwhelming gratefulness that you and all your disgraces should have happened upon this hallowed place in this coming together of moments perfect, and are not at all dispossessed but essential. While gazing out over the spires of those gargantuan curtains of ice, vast uninhabitable meadows of snow and water suspended, frozen in a pause for all time, glistening in the sun like dunes of diamonds and glass, in your periphery Amy is watching your watch. Smiling with a forlorn tenderness and uttering nothing because cometh the hour you’ll be too soon and forever separated in the world, she would later confess in a letter not sent. You offer no response or acknowledgement of her pensive and doting intrigue but look right on ahead, deeper into anything else as though you didn’t notice and know exactly where you’re headed but you do not, and you are just as adrift as anyone though increasingly here you are warming to the fact if by cruel expense. You don’t know why you did that, but maybe you needed to focus on yourself for a change, than rather what somebody else was focusing in on, about you. Just now a cold snap for which the faculties were not braced whips at your skin and threads the ribs. Fibres twitch involuntarily and immediately are you seized by your own constricting humanness. A glaze of frost is thrust over your nerves sending a biting shudder through your being like the cold steel of blade pushed into the chest; an ominous déjà vu which you have endured with a fright at intervals now and then for centuries. So now you look.

And kneeling there in the dark by the failing embers with a curious wondering piecing together the shards of recaptured frames of my sweet Patagonian experience can I enjoy the adventure again. All the thrills of moment-to-moment living where the weeks become fortified in legend, with all the significant constellations and heroism of a lifetime thoroughly lived. From being born erratic through the journey of ‘unheavening’ right up to a dispersal composed and sublime, enhanced and hemmed into 23 days like an eon in a snow dome. A solar system within a marble sitting on the ocean floor rolling with the beckon of an undertow. As well there were exams that revealed him, who I was most proud to have become that I had until then not discovered the amounting to were at all possible. To reminded be that still he is not done, nor to be restrained any more in luxury, and too of a time in my life that I think shall ever unsurpassed remain as the very best that I had lived.
When, however cutting and inclement, and no place more so than exists I’m sure, there was always close at hand the warm heart of a friend who two weeks before, you never knew or cared to know existed. Who would offer their only jacket because yours was an inappropriate match for such climates, all the while reminding the group with a stuttered yet indomitable cheer as we traversed terrain and conditions could no supposition have equaled, that somebody else whose birth place or last name you can’t recall had rushed on against the gales to prepare a fire and raise our tents before supper and storm.

Those rare and special people you’ll find dotted across the globe in corners hidden and places hard, like flowers in a cave. Where scarcely known are the comforts that fatigue and drive us further from ourselves and from one another. These very much-mattering, endearing acts of unhesitating consideration you can come to expect on the road from strangers who would rather be family. And as much as I’ve wandered from shore to shore, through valleys low and stark not within lights reach where prevails still a most fascinatingly and animated little civilisation you’ll not find anywhere else that one dare not profane to long step there, – and there’s such a place for us all; among grand and agleam peaks of powerful majesty weeping into lakes of the purest blue that arrest the tiny looker into a sudden compulsion for silent propriety: More than any mountain, the human phenomena of immediate unreproach and dependable tenderness never ceases to fire me to new incentives for compassion and service, always bringing me home a better man, and upon me after the hardest days, bestowing a far better rest than I could have hoped for. To see it, be touched, punctured and set loose by it is a wrath of pleasantness intensely I pray for and to what I know not. Perhaps to the Cosmos which inform with its patterns of seeming disarray and yet precision of order and celestial fairness. If it can pull planets, kill stars and toss fire like missiles across an infinity and still find occasion to mystify us with a drifters faith and the honest goodness of foreign folk, music, love, drunken sunrise pacts with new friends and pretty smiles in passing, surely can it inspire us to consider less ourselves as a disconnected self and more as a part of an order serene, that we may then tirelessly to the work of prospering an entire people to a standard of aversion to such separateness, and encourage by bitter example the kind of society we would all admire, and for which would one tilt to all the winds and blades of a thousand Siberian assaults for. Finding in our unity, a strength not stirred without, we can exhilarate that which sorely requires the present wide world through which we stumble: that is, dissolution of that indifference, that, until recently I had championed for too long and thought to be a trait of the strong, which I know now of course to be untrue.

Passing through the tunnel of a curative meditation are you restored. A buoyancy finds again the space beneath your feet, careening within and through you. Things are far gentler than you imagined. There is breadth at last, for all the things that you would feel, and the few things of which reason guides you need think. It is not as much a vacation as we need so much as an hour quiet and sincere with the soul, where your work will become known to you, to be taken up in earnest for all the days of your glorious tenure until it descends upon you to sleep and take your leave.

Danny James blog Patagonia 4 pics

Danny James blog Patagonia 4 pic 2

217: Patagonia part 3 (Amy, somewhere)

Strange it now seems that it bothered me how she would always dawdle behind while there was so much to see, and I’d never notice at the time that she was happy enough just watching me. Heading toward wherever I was, to end a searching in my arms that were never open.

I recall with fondness her poise and determined gait, and private strength of wherewithal that sometimes did take leave of its throne and put to helm a smile acting with not falsehood enough to cover over the deeper melancholy in her world, but a smile anyway. Amy disliked her pronounced calves and yet wore tights, no matter how thoroughly the Patagonian gusts would blow and yet often complained hilariously indignantly and unnecessarily of observed human errors of judgement and the like, long after the affray upon her dignity subsided and the offender, stooped and cloaking his villainy with shame had departed, sullen and regret addled. Amy’s relentlessness was tiring, to many if not all of them, but not to me. And often while they leered at her would I leer at them, more perplexed about them than disliking, for at last here was a little storm of transparency rare as the breathtaking within her berating into correctness or exhaustion a person failing, – that ushers away sun-shower pretensions with her brooding cloudburst veracity.

And I liked her calves too, looking furtively on their contours and contractions during the conquering of an incline. I said as much though little more, and it still seemed to matter immensely. I liked them best when ahead of me they brushed through grass and brambles on a hill-side meadow saturated by cold, dying daylight one December afternoon in some place, the name of which I can’t recall and made no effort to remember, by a highway remote in South America. You get tired of making plans and keeping notes. Abiding schedules and hitching your time and cares to duty and a whereabouts. We just walked, talked nonsense for once and wondered what were in the ovens of all the homes that blinked across the plains under perhaps the most magnificent dispersal of dusk cloud, the likes of which had never the skies before bestowed upon us we awed, in the end resigning to the fact that it was no different from any other as much as we were here with new eyes. Bursting apart with our pent-up hopes and anxieties, like the first Spring flowers through melting snow. Sometimes Amy would quietly look away and slump into a sigh that halted the planets in their cycles and cast suddenly over the hissing prairies of my heart a shadow crawling. Then, she would look back over her shoulder with a smile that betrayed an arrived at relief I knew only too well, and immediately a solitary lance of light shot out across the slopes from a source unknown yet knowing all. The Earth and all things resumed their movements and I could breathe again at ease, that all is indeed well, if she is well.
We were happy here with each other just as incomplete as ever, hidden in an interval of our lives and free to entertain the ecstasies of our wildest wonderings. I’m willing to wager, being years from these events that you will not have known a happiness like waking up face down on your cold tent floor without an air-mat, and with no shirt on in near-zero temperatures, with her cheek on your shoulder-blade and fingers clutching your lat because she loves your back even in her sleep, and her warm flesh against yours is keeping the world holy though she has three-fourths of the tent and all the sleep sack. You can hear the morning campfire and some of the group is awake and huddled around staring. The smell of instant coffee is utterly arresting and who knows what’s for breakfast or when it doesn’t matter. For a moment you forgot to remember that you can’t bear the thought of going home again, to describe so desperately these things that severely matter with people to whom they do not. It doesn’t even cross your mind that one day we would all be gone and that for many years before, we would all be looking back on these days from our separate and lonely corners of the world with a sad impossible longing to hold them all again and do absolutely nothing differently. You are too busy trying to recollect what it was that you were both laughing about so fervently before you fell asleep in each other’s arms with nothing and nowhere to be in the morning.

Somewhere in Patagonia, December 2013

Somewhere in Patagonia, December 2013

125: Patagonia

Dec 14 ’13 – There is a point in the auroral air, when, not arrived to full definition, cloud and sky are one hue dividing gradually, and the hinted at majesty unfolding pours steadily into the patient soul a satisfied resignation. Birds inform of the event by song, and flutter in the blue darkness from branch exuberantly to branch, becoming increasingly silhouette against the burgeoning light of Earths lantern approaching over the bend. The warmth of sun is felt far and wide before it spills over its gold and becomes a fixture in every eye. The clouds too declare it, now glowing pink as burning embers; with night thinning to extinction, – the magnificence inevitable. Commencing a pristine infinity, to enter upon, – an everything ahead of me. It is this in-preparation, I have recently discovered, that fulfils me to the zenith of amends, and when it settles it is time to board an escape pod, and ride the skies to Patagonia please.

121: What I came for

Extravagance of air and light today fetched me early from indoors, and no way knowing or caring where, would I follow so long as were sun and breeze proliferate. Being my final day in Nelson, instead of thus choking for want of natural restoratives, agonising the golden hours decrease under airport ceilings, I went some time afoot along the brow of Nelson’s lesser ventured neighbourhoods to draw my tonic. They appreciate a quiescent and leafy verdure, whom reside their cottages at the gardened feet of the hills which smile down at them and permit every bit of sunshine saturate that can. The escalation too is cordially progressive, and lures from the road many an ambler wearied with the flatness to immerse the senses awhile. I saw myself, three walkers at the least, suddenly stuttered in their way over inner reasoning succumb to the promise of cool escape therein among the reeds. Detouring into one of many pockets of shade, there lies a niceness often missed and never regretted once enjoyed, where the freshest state will seek its repose, and awaken a pleasure in being alive again it might not have known was slumbering.

Rows of hanging trees lean off to one side of a track, and dip their curtains into ebullient brooks providing an extensive tunnelled wonderland for whom may saunter along the fringe of that Eden. It befalls all aspirants a passage slow and blessed, for the eye darting, trying cannot rest on every confection, and the mind… laced with the soothing scent of summer flowers seeping in, sinks into a docility resembling what drapes the access of dreaming.

There isn’t a treasure else in the world could spread before me I would more alluring deem, and scant left in traditional busyness or responsibility to bribe me here from tending to my affairs. There is no shame in a divergence, of rational self-interest. Your very maintenance compels it. All the world will uphold its meddling be assured. Seize a duration and abduct your space, let the crowd where they will. Few roads or shoulders collide where a man’s primary enterprising steals inward, making his own acquaintance, and getting to know his needs. To spend some breath getting a better air. It is above all requirements, the principle requisite to living a useful and satisfying life; to obtain by sentient intention a precise and unhindered self report. It is from this which one gains strength, by which are all virtues bred. And thank foresight thus, that my chance for recess was not squandered, for in one deranged interim from a knot have I slipped and made through the fence like a bandit won. Yet it need not have been so well-engineered, having found whom for I wagered to discover, all the while dwelling in the privacy of honest council, and I am eager with that mans clarity to see in a short while, and in the very nick of all the while too, my longed for Patagonia.

Nelson, New Zealand 2013

Nelson, New Zealand 2013

120: Storyboard

Sunday came as Sundays do, with utile retrospectives of the week that was, breaking dawn over the yawning consciousness. These early ended days and seasonal moods seem no longer parallel with my evolved pursuits and may after all prove the last debris of habitual civilities being to a better advantage left as I go to the grove. It is not now enough that I can draw rational ends from what is done, but consider need how they may be useful if only in ways ahead. Just as Auroral warmth will, in the course of time sun the outermost blades of a dew-dampened glebe, it touches the curiosity sooner or later, of who linger long enough after young ire cools, that perhaps many more insights might be hidden in the forest bed that could rend the former outworn. The idea of setting in to meet a future self, more intelligent and virtuous, that you never could imagine much less decide on, becomes with accidental age an increasing prospect of interest. The flow of streams do not cease, and though the refractory trance of shimmering light gives good reason for satisfied reflection, the brooks on which they bend keep right on pouring into an unknown. You will appreciate then a favourable discomfort when can you dwell on renewal, and receive it well, knowing there is some knowledge to be gained from the mountains still, which, from their peaks impart more than will the valleys ever read, and can the mountains themselves even tell.

The areas I would explore, until today I’d stalled in visiting. Knowing well the enjoyment gathered there before, would be increased with new awareness added since, and compounded further by anticipations of forthcoming study. I went once more to the woods and felt instantly recognised and secure. By a warmly gesture of introduction, the entrance appeared fitted with a near ceremonious fanfare proceeding long back to the mark I ventured from, growing in a silent fervency not immediately obvious. Leaves rained down from above, every so often at first, tumbling in fine spun algorithms too sharp and delicate for the pace of human eye, then, in multitudes were flung unabated and cheerfully to enhance the charm of the trail.  Meadows bristled with tactile hush, – the very roots playfully inspected by low swerving gusts which without warning suddenly would surge up, bursting clear and jubilant from a gap in the grass, to rejoin the surface current. Much of the forest in concert swayed solemnly, but the diligent observer would have noted dotting the flanking elevations in crucial positions amid the chime, stood sentry Coniferae, ominously firm yet acknowledging in generous respects. As I passed through the thicket there intimated a mysterious parting of things on approach, that closed to my heel, swallowing before it fell, the very dust hurled by my arrival. It was as though an agreement had whispered over the lands, that I had consent to saunter unhindered and accepted, a brother lost to the years, and finally come home from his wilds.

Though all the day long, storm clouds had moaned the difficulty of holding verve, I found it trying nonetheless to suppose a more lenient setting than I’d found in the dandelion meadows where I lay a good hour. With none but the breeze for company and fits of chimeric spray escaped and washing the distant hilltops to delight my attentions, there is sufficient shelter and entertainment here no doubt, should the lid relenting begin to weep, and in doing so arrest the course of any traveller. There remained however, much of the valley to reach and while the thought of staying had qualified it’s charisma, worsening tempers in the sky did thrust a buried preference forward, impelling thus a need to gather at once my last looks and be on my way.
So into the great Maitai I pressed deeper, neither hurrying nor with delay, and with the constant threat of a downpour hanging where I went. I can tell you, that time in the meadow with my ear to the Earth, and feeling the heartbeat of Thunder throbbing all the way through, indeed was the finest hour of the day.

Setting off from the hostel to Nelson town in the early evening, to take my final walk of this December 8th, one event of disagreeable familiarity transpired as I approached the Collingwood bridge. No sooner had I marked a black portentousness in the summits, now buried in shroud of pending tumult, than it barked recognition and volleyed at once towards and upon me loosing an increasingly light-hearted cloudburst that suffered no malice to it, and within mere seconds tapered into a drizzle. How six years ago coming to that same bridge I met with a similar inexplicable wave that did rush to welcome me my first hour. Although I had not since been still, having lapped the Earth over many times, and numerous personal revolutions undergone to the fact I am almost somebody different entirely, it was here finally the fretting sky had caught up with me.

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Nelson, New Zealand 2013

Nelson, New Zealand 2013