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12 August 2008



Thanks for this, Larry. The Nooksack had intrigued me since the first time I read Snyder's poem. Now I have beautiful images, in words and photos, to complement the poem.

I'm fascinated, too, by that thought: how memory builds expectation. I think you put your finger on a kind of uneasiness I've had for a long time, about revisiting places that have deeply moved me. Among other things, this is what I enjoy so much about your blog.

Debbie Lee

"What I dislike about memory" If you've ever been with a loved one who has Alzheimers, you know that you can NEVER dislike memory. It is who you are--absolutely. You must cherish your memory as much as you cherish you heartbeat.


And that's a good thought too, Debbie. An elderly friend of mine had Alzheimer's, but I missed the worst of it; my memories of him are not (or barely) tainted by the kind of sadness his family had to endure. Now, of course, there can be no expectation.

Memory — is it among the greatest forms of creativity?


Pete--Glad to give you a few more senses of the Nooksack. Thanks much for calling my attention to the Snyder poem. Ultimately, as I thought about the poem and went back through my books of his poetry, I went also to the library to search for the circumstances under which he wrote the poem. It was composed after Snyder and Alan Ginsberg had hitchhiked from San Francisco to Washington and into the Cascades following the famous poetry reading at which 'Howl' was proclaimed to the public.

Debbie--I'm not sure that I accept your assertion (damn my contrariness!). I have a sense that our memories and our histories with them are too complex to suggest that one could never dislike memory. Surely our relationships to our memories change over time.

Pete--I like the idea of memory as one of the greatest forms of creativity.

Debbie Lee

Yeah, of course, our relationships to everything change over time. Maybe a memory makes you sad, or happy, or, like you say, makes you feel two or three different emotions at once. Maybe you dislike how a particular memory makes you feel today, and maybe 2 years from now you don't dislike how that memory makes you feel. But to dislike memory altogether seems really odd to me. I think of memory as so fundamental to Being. It's like saying, "I dislike my breathing" or "I dislike my pumping heart." In my memory of the Nooksack I see my uncle's brother, a shy, bucktoothed man, who owns a house near the river, and his bucktoothed daughter who is 15-years-old and has a 1/2 Indian newborn baby out of wedlock and my parents whispering about it in a bedroom. I'm 13-years-old and I understand this could happen to me. Everything is damp and gray and cold. It's not a memory that makes me feel good, but it's fundamentally part of me. I guess I'm just being a linguistic quibbler here--but I'd say it's logical to dislike how certain memories make you feel, but not "Memory" as a function of Being.

Anyway, I agree that Pete's idea that memory is the acorn and the oak of the creative mind is right on!


Loved this, especially the use of Snyder. It's hard to drain memory of expectation, but then it's hard to drain anything of expectation; for some of us, that's the work of meditation.

I love the natural process of waterways -- damming, backing up, overflowing or redirecting -- as metaphors for the progress of the spirit.


Jarrett--thanks for your thoughts. Your comment about waterways and metaphors captures, I think, some essential aspect of our response to rivers in which we seek to convert their flow into the movements of our lives.

Greg Higgins

A Nooksack memory to share with all of you: http://www.nooksackcirque.com. On to the source!...the Nooksack Cirque.

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