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Back again

I’m home. We have a working source of heat. Unfortunately, the house is roughly 50 degrees at the moment, which means hugging my cup of tea is less luxury and more necessity right now. There are far worse situations to be in, so I’ll hug my tea happily.

Good things of note: kind people are wonderful. I really don’t have any more to say on the subject. They just are.

I’ll come back soon to post something other than griping. (No, no exciting news or anything, just a promise to do more than complain.) In the meantime, I have to go rewrite a synopsis for Wren, and reassure the cats that they will not have to go live in a strange basement again anytime soon. Although the thought of napping in my own bed is a tantalizing one….

This time of year

Yesterday. 5:30 pm. Running.

Leaves have broken out everywhere, pale green and quarter-sized at this point. The rain this week has brought out the Red Efts, and they parade across the trail, requiring the occasional arabesque from runners with large clumsy feet.

Down by the water the loons calling. If you’ve never heard a loon before, go here. Listen. Now imagine being on the edge of a long narrow lake. There are islands in the lake, but tonight the fog’s moved in, and you can’t see far. All you can see is the shore, and the pale stones beneath the water. From somewhere in the fog comes first one loon’s voice, then another.

Back on the trail, there is no fog. There has been rain though, so the birds are quiet. Not so a porcupine, whining somewhere just off the trail along a stretch of trees brought down by the October snowstorm. A grouse is drumming too, more than one, from alternating sides of the trail.

Further, and a coyote joins the trail ahead, loping along for a short stretch before disappearing off to the side. It’s probably still there as I go by, but I can’t see it. The only way to truly see everything around me would be to stop and sit, and I’m too busy for that.

One last quick look at the lake before heading home. A little less fog here, and the closest island is a palette of greens, the pines so much darker than everything else this time of year. I turn back down the trail, passing everything again, and thinking this is why I live here.

A picture break

Outside, it’s the kind of day that makes you grateful to be alive. Inside, it’s all pain and suffering and working on unbearably boring things. Suffice it to say, there are days when I covet the ability to write a high concept story, if only to make it easier to summarize it in an exciting way.

But I’m kind, and I won’t drag the rest of you through that particular mire. Instead, pictures! Why? Because I’m occasionally clever, and am able to not only remember to snap a few, but also to load them onto this creaking relic of a computer.

This is a foundation. With trees! There are few things I love more than old stone foundations with trees growing out of them. Actually, there are quite a few things I love more, but I also love these. The reservoir I live beside swallowed whole towns when it was built. Before the flooding began, the houses were dismantled, but the cellar holes remain, here and there and everywhere. In another month they will be filled with ferns. The forgotten patches of daffodils will have bloomed already, but the old apple trees will just be starting.

One of the things about reservoirs is that they have water. Really! This time of year, the streams are full and busy draining into the lake. They’re not as full as they are some years, as there’s been no snow to melt, but they’re running. I could easily be convinced to sit beside running water until I grew roots and leaves and had to stay forever. Especially streams like this, with the incredible green of the mosses on the rocks and the burble of the water.

One last picture. Along with foundations, there remain other signs of the lost towns. Rusty buckets, bits of pottery, random bits of metal. These stairs are one of my favorites relics. They are surrounded by periwinkle, which will also be blooming before long. They’re along a dirt road, and while they lead to an old foundation, they’re situated in a way that looks more like an invitation to a pine grove. To either side are gnarled maples, half dead and half alive, and further back is a small meadow.

That’s as much of a break as I get today. Enjoy the world.

The waiting

The moon is beautiful tonight. It hangs just beyond the trees in the backyard, and I can watch it through the windows by my desk. Around the full moon everything changes here. The cats run back and forth through the house late at night, and the children sleep fitfully, and I…well, I dream of puppies.

But that’s another story entirely.

I’ve had two days now of no writing. It shows. I’m unable to relax when I don’t write. I pace, mentally, if not physically. My mind is with my characters, and I make them pace as well. We all languish, trapped in the equivalent of a break room in my head, a space with dingy walls, smelling of stale smoke and sweat, everyone sniping at one another.

There’s also this thing about writing novels, about the way they build and build until suddenly they have incredible forward momentum. To pause in the midst feels a bit like asking an avalanche to wait politely while you finish cooking dinner. Only in this case, you’re the only one disturbed by the avalanche. No one else understands why you’re jumpy and upset.

It will wait. It must wait. Tonight the moonlight will reflect off the snow and light the bedroom, and the cats will yowl and tussle, and the kids will talk in their sleep, and I will dream, not of puppies, but of a rocky coast and the cold ocean water and a girl swimming out into the dark.

On the Permanence of Books

I’ve led a geographically stationary life. I currently live twenty minutes from where I went to high school. Aside from being born in Maine, this is the farthest I’ve ever lived from my childhood home.

I’ve patronized the same public library my whole life. Much about it has changed over the years. Once upon a time it was a lovely (and tremendous) old house, stone on the outside, little alcoves and mismatched chairs on the inside. At one point it was renovated, and now is much bigger, with a decidedly more modern feel. Some of the same chairs remain, but none of my favorite hiding spots.

Not in the adult section at least. The children’s section has stayed largely unchanged. Same old stuffed animals arranged along the upper shelves, same benches, same built-in wooden shelves.

Same books too. My children are reading age now, and little excites them as much as a trip to the library. Many of the books they choose are new, but some are not. Some are weathered old hardcovers that have lived on those shelves for as long as I’ve been visiting them.

Last year my son took out My Friend Flicka. It was the first book he’d read that changed his world. As a parent, I could see it happen, I could see that for him it was magic.

For me, it was magic in a different way. That book–that old, taped, green volume, its pages worn soft as cloth with time–I knew that book. I’d held that book as a child. I’d curled up with it, read it, cried over it. It probably still held crumbs in the binding from when I’d sit at the table eating lunch and reading. His hands, mine, we’d shared the feel of that battered old book.

My house can no longer hold all my books. Slowly, painfully, I’ve been shedding my collection, trying to make room for children’s books, for games and puzzles and art supplies. It’s hard to let go of them, my old paperbacks held together by failing glue, with pages stained with tears or chocolate, with passages underlined by my teenage hand.

I understand the arguments for e-readers. As a reader, I’ve only to look at my own cramped house to see one valid reason to switch. As a writer, I see how e-publishing is revolutionizing the field.

As I sort through my books though, logic fails me. Some are weightless, their only impact on my life as a few hours of entertainment on a rainy day. But some…all I can say is that magic lingers in their pages.

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