Every year about this time, I open my mailbox to find the course catalogue from the North Cascades Institute. And every year, a little piece of me dies when I begin reading about the things that, in all likelihood, I won’t be doing. I won’t be watching the night sky in the high desert. I won’t be learning about local food by touring Skagit Valley farms. And I won’t be reading Jack Kerouac at a mountaintop fire lookout.
Argh. It’s only April and already it feels like another year gone.
But this year, I’m not quite as dismayed. That’s because I’ll be co-teaching a class there this autumn. It’s called “Will Write for Change: Communication Tools and Techniques for Activists” and it’s being held the weekend of October 2-4 at the NCI learning center on Diablo Lake, nestled in the heart of the mountains. (Even better, I’ll be teaching with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bill Dietrich—which sort of feels like asking me to batting practice with Ichiro — as well as a batch of other very talented folks.)
There’s really nowhere I rather be spending my time than in the North Cascades, as that region is broadly defined. And I think maybe that’s why every year the NCI course catalogue depresses me a little: it’s a memento mori. Life is passing; my remaining summers are finite; and whatever else I’m doing, I can be sure that I’m not spending enough time in the North Cascades.
Lucky for me, NCI has a new-ish blog called Chattermarks (which I think is a brilliant name). I’m glad they started a blog because now instead of waiting for one big annual reminder of my mortality, I can find frequent updates about how my life is passing. The dogwood twigs are budding. Diablo Lake is still icing over. And there are mountain lion tracks in the snow around the learning center. Sigh.
Whatever. At least I’ve got my laptop and wifi. And if folks are interested in signing up for the class, you can do it online right here. I even promise not to whine about how I wish I were in the North Cascades.