Found Art

In the mountains, there you feel free. ~T.S. Eliot

When I can’t seem to write anything new, I like to go through old files. Thanks to the generosity of my federated wiki friends, I have my own federated wiki bookmarked and waiting for me to fork my own insane ideas. What I’m doing will not progress the potential of the federated wiki, I know that. But I have my own little digital writing studio that I’ve titled “BookFedwiki,” and that’s pretty fun for me. I’m going to reap just what I sow (thanks, Lou Reed).

Yesterday I got an outline done, and I went through piles of old work. Most of it is useless. All of it on paper printed from a dead hard-drive. Some of it interesting. None of it feeling like a book. The giant paperclip I’ve used to bind the folder together is starting to rust. Years ago, I titled this folder “Le Livre Maintenant”–literal ugly translation–the book now. I’m close to renaming it “Le Livre Jamais”–literal ugly translation–the book never.

But then I discovered this small installation that my friend Tami and I created for a Found Art Show at UW-Bothell. I never got to see the show in person, but Tami sent a shot of what it looked like on the wall. She also sent me shots of her favorite installations. What a gal, that pal of mine. WP_000500It made me smile to think that this was already three years ago yet we’re still rhyming and scheming for our next backpacking trip. We might get to do two short trips and one long trip this summer now that my jobby job has chilled out a bit. And this year there are caches on our long hike so we won’t run out of whiskey and chocolate! I won’t have to ration coffee. Hot damn! I just put our application in the mail to hike The Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier this summer, so hiking is on my mind. If we don’t get our permits, we’ll head back into the Olympics. The hiking. This book. This book on hiking I want to write is on my mind.

The now that became never is once again perhaps.

Here’s our bit of found art. Tami Takes Photos, I Write The Words: A Memoir.

Backcountry Altar—Alyson Indrunas and Tami Garrard

One of the Ten Essentials of Backcountry Hiking is to “Leave No Trace.” This past summer on an 85 mile backpacking trip in the Olympic National Park, we discovered a most welcomed violation of the rules. After a long morning with 50 pound packs, we arrived at a rest spot near Cameron Creek excited to devour our lunch when we discovered a small shrine of berries, rocks, leaves, and a feather. Charmed by the artful display of nature’s artifacts, we left it as we found it for the next hikers—taking only this photo.


Later that day, we met two young hikers who were sketching plants while eating their own lunch along trail. After a short discussion about maps, the trail, and the weather, we noticed they had drawn designs on their faces with berry juice. “Did you by chance leave an altar at the last camp?” Yes, their nods indicated, that was us. When we said goodbye, we shared blue-teethed smiles stained by the abundance of summer berries.

There’s more to this story. I love meeting strangers on the trail. Dirty smelly arty weirdos of the backcountry, you are my people. Inspiration to keep writing, my friends, comes from the oddest places. Now if only I had kept those airplane sick bags I used to write poetry on back when I got to travel by plane a lot.

My collaborative found art makes me think once again about le livre peut-etre. Peut-etre.–the ugly translation–the book perhaps/maybe. Perhaps it will be.

Found art. Words. Collaboration. Old files. Books. The fire. Bad weather. Snoring dog. Wind too wild for bike riding. Stay inside. Stay. Then later, a movie too. And then home. Oh, it’s such a perfect day. I’m glad I spent it with you.

About Alyson Indrunas

Always learning about instructional design, educational technology, professional development, adult education, and writing.
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6 Responses to Found Art

  1. francesbell says:

    Beautiful, beautiful post. I love the idea of what traces we may leave-nasty polluting traces or lovely artistic but ephemeral traces. It also made me think of more persistent traces like cairns.


    • Frances, you have given me a thought on how to use my endless photos of cairns! What a great observation–I’ve got something new to scribble about thanks to you. Thanks for your kind words:)


  2. Lisa Chamberlin says:

    Every time I read about your hiking adventures, you make me want to throw on a pack and venture forth…of course, for me, it would more resemble Cheryl Strayed on Day 1 and two miles in than anything “girl power” and art-filled. The imagination may be willing, but the body would be going, “What the hell?”

    I look forward to having you sign my copy of your book at the release party 🙂


  3. Oh Lisa, you are such a good friend! Maybe we can stand next to the copy machine and watch it print after our fourth bottle of wine. Then I’ll sign it and we can set it on fire. Ha! Strayed’s description of not knowing how to pack for a trip is really pretty funny. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re almost done with the quarter. Highly, highly recommend taking a vacation during finals’ week if you can swing it;)


  4. maryannreilly says:

    The Lou Reed at the end is a perfect touch.


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