Rogue River Journal

This evening I finished reading Rogue River Journal by John Daniel. By this I mean I read the final page, and the Acknowledgments.

But I’m not ready to put it away.

I’ve been told by enough people that I don’t quite fit in. In fact, it happened again this morning at Panera. Scary Man (I assume he has a real name but I do not know or care to know it.) chatted me up at the trash can by asking how things were at the farm. My response that it was beautiful elicited a “but it’s winter and cold!”, to which I tossed out a line about the warm wood fire and liking the winter as I edged slightly away hoping to end the discussion. He asked where I was from, and being born right downtown I answered Tulsa. “You’re from here and you don’t like the hot summers?” he asked in a shocked fashion. (I don’t know if he was really shocked or just trying to prolong the dialogue. Neither idea thrilled me.) I answered in the only way I knew how, “I’ve always been a freak of Nature.”

In Rogue River Journal Daniel spends an entire winter in a small cottage secluded in the Klamath Mountains of Oregon. On purpose.

I love this. I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to spend winter in the woods without encountering another human. A deeper inner knowledge surely must begin to grow from the solitude. Without other people present you wrestle with questions and have no one to bounce your ideas off of. The resolutions, if they happen, are all your own. Depending solely on yourself would you have to face your true strengths and weaknesses, not as society sees them but as they are? What about your internal schedule? Does it tune to daylight and the sounds you hear?

Daniel invites the memories of his father, and his own history into the cabin. He is blunt about his escapes in the sixties, familial conflict, and love lost and found. His prose on the Nature that he shares his retreat with is lush and moving.

This book is not for everyone. But I found it moving. And inspiring in a way that makes me realize that I have a lot of work to do in my own journal before I fully understand myself and where I’m from.

Pardon me – but pen and paper beckon.

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