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A moose and some sunlight

I had a birthday last week. It was birthday-ish, with cake with sprinkles and a Buster Keaton movie and a moose. A real moose, four long legs and all, hanging out to say hi. We find signs of moose everywhere, but I’ve still only seen them in person a few times. Once when I came round a corner in a car and found a bull moose looking back at me, and another time when a very busy one trotted past us in the backyard, on her way to someplace important.

So that was good. We’ve also had a pair of Hooded Mergansers in the beaver pond of late. The male is quite handsome and a little full of himself. The female is lovely. For some reason the female mergansers, any variety, appeal to me far more than the males. They have beautiful cinnamon crests, and just look…I don’t know. Like a creature who has flown through the loneliest of places, a temporarily lost fairy queen, perhaps.

While the snow refuses to leave (we had yet another snow shower this morning), the sun continues to return. It is strong enough to warm the house during the day, and to make my winter coat seem a little foolish. I forget this every year, the fact that it is not that the winter decides to move on, but that the sun gains ascendancy. It’s comforting. There is no White Witch, keeping it forever cold and dark. It’s simply a question of waiting until the days lengthen and the sun rises and the birds begin to sing again.

When I was young and fascinated with astronomy, I was devastated to learn that some day the sun would run its course and be gone, and with it, us. That’s the trick of life though, isn’t it? Everything must run its course, and still we build and dream and sing and sleep and love and try to make the most of this impermanence. It’s not the lasting forever that’s important, it’s the passion we bring to our time here.

In which I do not manage to summarize 2012

I started writing up some great state of the year post yesterday. I stopped when an owl came to visit. In the last week, the snow has finally arrived. There are tracks running through the backyard–dog, fox, children–and the leaves we didn’t rake are now hidden away.

The skies have been gray as well, and against such a background–dull silver and the black of branches–a flying owl stands out clearly. She landed in one of the pines and stayed there for much of the afternoon. During the winter, when the nights are so silent, owl calls carry a long way. It’s how I’ve come to think of winter nights since moving here fifteen years ago, a time of moonlight on snow and great echoing voices.

The owl came to usher 2012 out. The sun is here to welcome in 2013.

I’m not sure what to say about 2012. If I take a simple arithmetic approach, it had many pluses. It was a year in which I had seven stories published, completely overshadowing 2011’s two. There was a brief giddy period in the spring in which I sold every story I had available to sell, and I suddenly felt like a WRITER.

What I discovered is that I am very much in my adolescence as a writer. I’m tripping over my own feet everywhere I go, and stressing over the unruly state of my hair in the morning. At some point I will grow out of it, know who I am and where I am going.

But…but there is power in adolescence too. There is freedom in not yet knowing it all, in testing and trying and rushing into places that maturity would dictate foolish.

There is fun.

The thing about writerhood is that there is no clear graduation date. I’ve passed most of my arbitrary markers at this point. I sold my first story. I made my first professional sale. I earned my SFWA membership. I received an invitation to submit. I made it on to paper and into the library. I have an agent.

I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing.

Both my children are involved in wilderness skills classes. They have fire challenges regularly. Make a fire that …burns this long, this high, with these materials. Make your bow drill, find your tinder, work with wet logs.

The path to the fire varies. The fire itself still warms.

This is my 2013 goal. Keep learning. Find those challenges and test my skills. Learn to keep my feet under me, learn that unruly hair has its own beauty. Listen to the owls on winter nights, enjoy the sun on my face on a January day.

Happy New Year to you all!

Home again, home again

The title kind of says it all.

However, if you want more, it was a good trip. There were seals, and spider crabs, and clams that we watched burrow into the sand, and more seals, and whales, and, cue Jaws music, a large shark cruising right along the shore while my husband and daughter walked on the water’s edge. There are no pictures, not mine at least, because I am the sort of person who would put a camera down in the sand and forget it completely until the tide came in and washed it away, if anyone were foolish enough to give me a camera.

And now it’s over, and the sunlight tells me fall is racing its way here, and…sigh. It is hard to let go of summer.

I spent too much time thinking about a project that I really shouldn’t start, but will probably have to now. Some stories wait politely in line, some shove their way to the front and argue loudly until I agree to write them. More on it later, when I’ve slept in my own bed a night or two, and the cats no longer have to cling to me and tell me how terrible I was to ever leave them.

In the meantime, if you’ve had a vacation this summer, please, tell me about it. I’m a better reader than writer at the moment.

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