Contributor Spotlight: Michael Garrigan

Michael Garrigan on “Deer Mountain


We were camped right along the Canadian border of New Hampshire when a wicked lightning storm charged through. We could hear the rolling thunder for a good few hours before we felt any raindrops or saw any lightning. There was this anticipation of something brewing, about to be created as the storm got louder, got closer. At one point, we ran down the dirt road from our camp to the main road where we could see the horizon out past the forest and mountains just to see what we could see and to maybe prove that what we were hearing actually existed.

The storm came and drenched the woods all night. There’s something incredibly intimate and immediate about camping out in the rain in the middle of nowhere. All night we laid there, with our dog at our legs, listening to the torrential rain and thunder. Nothing else existed. The next morning was cloudless, the ground of pine needles was saturated and the creek behind our camp was loud, running high. I sat by its side and watched the caddis flutter off the alder and tap the water, laying their eggs, and slowly “Deer Mountain” wrote itself.

I’m always amazed at how many lives a river has. Just yesterday, it was a creek that I could easily rock jump across. But today after the storms, those rocks are gone under the runoff and it’s a raging stream. However, those rocks still existed and still held power over that water. Yesterday they were creating eddies in the water, today, they are creating rapids. I think that’s one thread I was following as I wrote “Deer Mountain” — what we don’t see, or what we only hear off in the distance, still has incredible power and influence on us.