singing bowls and hide scrapers

Near the edge of an Irish Sea, metallic spinners hang from the trees of a man who listens to singing bowls whenever, wherever he encounters them. It’s not the same if you pursue the bowls; coming across them is vital. Here in Montana, I long to strike a singing bowl, but have yet to even see one. Tell me everything you know about them, I ask.

And so he writes about copper and bronze, silver and thinned walls of metal. He tells me something I recognize: Every one has a different tone. And what does it take in our life, our journey to discover what our own tone is?  One day when you walk into a smudged-window shop, chimes hanging from a pine cone the color of eggplant, there will sit six bowls. Each bowl sounding deeper than the next. These bowls with their hammered curves, which one knows your song?


In the Beartooth-Absaroka Wilderness a photographer hikes over ten miles to capture light on water, bouncing off canyon walls. He hopes his photos will convince others to keep industry and tourism from spilling into these untouched corners. Protect what cannot be protected. Is this possible? Ask him. Yesterday, just yesterday he flew over a basin meadow in his small prop plane to watch a grizzly feed on moths.

A grizzly can weigh between 300 and 600 pounds. When I googled the weight of a moth, well . . . imagine how many moths it would take to fill that grizzly’s belly enough for him to curl into a cave and hibernate through winter. And along the way of learning how much a moth weighs, I learned  a Luna moth (not found in this region) never eats. It dies within a week, living just long enough to mate.


It’s six o’clock in the morning. My brother’s dog is in the back seat of his Blazer, on alert and ready to chase gophers the moment we open a door. But we are waiting for the sun to crack the morning open. He places a Tupperware container on the dashboard. The defroster will warm the Saskatoon pie the Hutterites gave him in trade for some scrap iron.

Now the berry is called Juneberry, he tells me, and offers a thermos of hot coffee. But the closer you get to the border, the more you hear it called Saskatoon because it’s closer to what the Cree first named the berry.

And in the dark Blazer’s cab, I give my brother a rock I found three hundred miles south of here. If you look at it, it looks like nothing. Just another fist-sized rock. But in the dark, you can’t see. So you feel, running your fingertips along its smooth surface. With your dog panting in the back seat, berry pie warming on the dash, something stirs inside. You feel a handle, you feel a grip. Your thumb slips neatly into a slight depression. It’s an artifact. A tool belonging to another time, once belonging to another man.  And you catch your breath. His rock fits your grasp.


About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website:

8 responses to “singing bowls and hide scrapers

  1. Red Mitten girl, you continue to thrill me with your blogs!

  2. Kerry

    This writing took my breath away…the tones of singing bowls and feeling the artifact in the dark. I can only relate it to a richness of words that is you. Thanks Sherry.

  3. These words strangely humble me when I read them. Somehow they seem to give humankind validity. We are different, custodians I think, of many things.
    In life there are see-ers and listeners and the words here arch over me like the picture above them. I want to place the palm of my hand on the bark of the trees and touch the words..

    • redmitten

      neil, your words continue to inspire. example: giving validity to humankind. yes. and now i am deep into considering “custodian” now that you have brought that up. good to hear from you.

  4. Your writing reminds me of how important it is to care for and protect the imagination. Only a much-loved, well-cared-for imagination could have written that last perfect paragraph. Or the rest.

    • redmitten


      i appreciate your encouragement, thank you! i spent some years in a former relationship where my imagination was often a burr under someone else’s saddle. it’s wonderful, liberating to share this story and connect with another’s imagination. the rock, by the way, is featured in another post in this blog (plain view). as much as i wanted to “keep” the rock, it didn’t feel right.. handing it over to one of my brothers was a gift for both of us. the rock (truly) is now in good hands.

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