Newness

“Whereas I, even now, persist in believing that these black marks on white paper bear the greatest significance, that if I keep writing, I might be able to catch the rainbow of consciousness in a jar.” -Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

Last week I checked out Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides from my favorite spot in Jackson, the Grand Teton County Library. It’s in perfect library book condition–pages softened from the flipping of readers before me, cover laminated and slightly dog-eared. The new book preciousness has given way to a broken-in sturdiness. I don’t feel guilty stuffing it in my backpack for shuttle rides, or sandwiching it between my wallet and water bottle for a pre-work read near the Bay. And now that I’ve waxed poetic about the physical wardrobe Middlesex is wearing, I should move on to gushing about the book itself. I’m almost through, devouring, chomping, chewing (all verbs that imply a vigorous appetite are fitting). It’s a book about family, about writing, about absorbing the world around you (perhaps that’s a subsection of “writing”). I don’t want to say too much until I’ve finished the book, had a chance to digest it. But the quotation that headlines this blog post struck me in the most wonderful way, when you read something and realize someone’s put something into words you didn’t think could be articulated, or you believed (until that moment) that you were the only one who’d thought it. I feel like I came to Wyoming with hopes that I could “catch the rainbow of consciousness,” that I could engage and record the world in the new way.

Have I succeeded? 3 weeks is too early to say. But this week has been full of new experiences, as every week in Wyoming has been.

We finally made a successful trip to the hot springs this week, where we peeled off shoes and socks to cross a creek that almost knocked me off my feet (Alex threw my dangling shoes to shore so I could keep my balance better). Then we scrambled up a narrow dirt path to two unassuming ponds, quietly steaming like unattended kettles. Logs lined one end of each pond like a headboard, and we cautiously dipped toes into the water. Would it be that warm? Yes, it would be. The lower spring was the temperature of a warm bath, and even though mosquitos pricked our exposed shoulders and our feet kicked up clods of dirt and pebbles (and a beer tab), I felt more relaxed than I had in a long time. We only lasted in the upper spring for five minutes–it had the almost-scalding heat of a hot tub, and our backs were swelling with the telltale welts left from the mosquitos. Afterwards we bought firewood and s’mores fixings from the convenience store and headed back to Colter to build a fire. Two food groups have been dominating my diet lately: s’mores and deli samples. You haven’t lived until you’ve smeared a generous spoonful of chunky peanut butter on a s’more; peanut butter and chocolate have never found a vehicle more appetizing. You also haven’t lived until you’ve spent an afternoon hiding in the unseen corner between the oven and sanitizer sink, a compostable spoonful of Strawberry Cheesecake, then Black Cherry Vanilla, then Peanut Butter Cup raised to your lips. There was also the afternoon we received a free pizza from Leek’s Marina, and we made a baker’s dozen of chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. The Deli Diet, though dangerous, is a tasty one.

I have more to say, but a shuttle to catch, and a story to work on, as I’m attending the Jackson Hole Writers Conference on Friday and Saturday. I’m planning to blog about my favorite places to eat in Jackson next, so get ready for some shameless food pictures.

But for now, it’s off to chase that elusive rainbow of consciousness.

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