Tagknitting

February 2, 2015

It’s snowing here. More than a little. The view onto the deck suggests the snow is attempting to swallow the house, a sort of slow and steady boa constrictor approach. The question is whether it will succeed before spring weather arrives. I’m giving it fifty-fifty odds at the moment.

I’ve been on a writing tear, which means things like blogs move way down in life hierarchy. This is the time when my family has to ask me the same question repeatedly before it will sift down into my brain, when I have to remind myself of the date or the time of day, and feel startled to discover it is February, not high summer, like it is in The Lost. It’s when I check phone messages and have that little touch of disappointment that none of them have called, and I must remind myself that they don’t call because they exist only in my head.

In other words, pure magic.

So, I’m not here much. I’m on Twitter a bit because it provides the mental equivalent of getting up and walking around the room for a few minutes. I’m making one of two salads (roasted beet/arugula or kale/quinoa) and eating them while thinking of other places, other times. I’m working on yet another hat, this one for my daughter, dark brown to help her blend into the trees outdoors, and listening to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell read aloud by my husband while the kids and I knit. I’m walking up and down the road, thinking, thinking, thinking.

And the writing? Still a tremendous mess at this point. New pieces to write, old pieces to choose, tenses to rearrange. It’s not just the history of that world I’m rearranging, it’s my own as well. We all live in houses inside our heads, and much of mine has been gutted and rebuilt since I last worked on this story. For now, there are moments when it feels impossibly difficult, and others when it feels effortless. The only absolute is the need to keep going.

In Crossroads, I made a deliberate decision to avoid romance with a capital R. There were a handful of reasons for this, not the least of which was that Blue’s quest was about family, about art, about friendship, about the kinds of love that don’t turn up in Valentine’s cards. By comparison, The Lost is drenched in desire. It’s also part of a bigger arc, and every piece I place now requires thought about how it reverberates through the story as a whole. There are moments when I miss Blue’s open plains, her determination to continue forward, alone, until she’s reached her journey’s end.

That’s the thing, I suppose, about houses in our heads. New wings can be built, strangers become friends, the view from every window can be different. Open one door, I’m looking out from a freight train onto spring in Idaho. Open another, it’s summer in an old farmhouse, and everything is about to break, but for this moment it is quiet and home.

The snow is slowing a bit. My brain is not. Off to write again.

Welcome, Spring

And a fine Equinox to you all.

Today started out with sleet on the roads and ice on the trees. It’s ending with blue sky, and temps in the forties, and rivers running down the hill. In New England, winter and spring can share a day like that. I’m following their lead and working on balance today. A dozen things I’d like to be doing, a dozen things I should be doing, and this little sliver of time in which to do them.

I could, for example, clean cobwebs from corners, or I could figure out what to make for two different potlucks in the next week, or I could research public transportation in Syracuse.

Or I could watch a documentary about kids playing chess while knitting myself a hat with yarn I picked out today (multitasking–has to be good, right?), and then stay up late finishing the book I’m reading. Is there really any question as to which is the right choice?

No, there isn’t, is there?

Cold hands and wooly lambs

Responding to recent suggestions by people in my life that I try to be more social, I arranged to spend the morning yesterday helping out on a farm in temporary need of a few extra hands. It’s a place my children are connected to, and I like farms, and I like being outside, so I went with them.

It was a spectacular spring morning. A little on the cold side, but the sun was bright and the birds were busy, and it was good to have new things to do. The majority of my time was spent digging up stinging nettles in a field, alone. Perhaps it wasn’t the most successful of my attempts to be around other people, but I like to imagine some spiritual meaning to the hours I pass in silence. I suspect I would have made a killer mystic in some other time and place.

Also wonderful–lambs! Lots, including two born while we were digging up nettles and mulching vegetable beds. If there’s a better definition of joy than watching very young lambs running and jumping about in a field, I’m not sure what it is. Sheep have such distinctive voices. It’s a bit like being in the midst of a very talkative party to listen to them bleating back and forth.

As if all that wasn’t good enough, we came home with a bag of fresh shiitake mushrooms. With one or two exceptions, I remember nothing of importance about any paycheck I’ve ever received, but I remember every gift of food I’ve been given in exchange for my time. Apples, potatoes, vegetables, jams, mushrooms–I’m incredibly grateful for all of them.

Today it’s gray and cold again, and our only visitor is a lone turkey who stalks along the fringes of the trees. I’ve been taking a break from drafting, working on revising a backlog of stories instead. At the moment I’m doing neither. It’s time to warm my fingers and go work knitting with the kids. I’m halfway through a scarf, and I firmly believe that once I finish it, the warm weather will arrive to stay.

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