Friday, January 27, 2006

I'm pleased. I made a recent sale to 'The Dalhousie Review'. Actually, I'm ecstatic. I've made some other recent sales too, to which I also feel gratified. While writing books, the short stuff keeps circulating, and in the circulating, comes the sales.

I've had it with winter. I drove through the parkway this morning, noting how the sun cast the snow into sequins, and how the stark branches of trees look like dark capillaries spreading out against the sky. Beautiful, yes, but I yearn warmth. I want to be able to lounge on a porch, candle lit, bare feet resting upon a stool, to take in the greenery of arriving summer. I miss the hickory scent of barbecues; the drone of evening cicadas.

Soon, I shall post some writing to the site. Life is hectic, blending the days between work and writing, family, and finding that rare quality of moment called 'down time' where you can stop for a few minutes, or longer, and not feel compelled to have to 'do' something.

I wonder if retired people often find themselves with too many 'down' moments and push themselves back toward a sense of structure?

Outside, the wind tosses windchimes into each other, and the sky has turned to the color of ash. In stores, shelves of forced tulips, crocuses, and daffodils forge a sense of greenery and spring for the price of $2.99 a bundle.

We need color in the winter. The landscape is devoid of most of it, save for swatches of dried grasses and evergreen set against alabaster.

Soon, it will be time for all of us to awaken from our slumber.

Goodbye winter; hello spring.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Into the new year

One day into the new year, and into the usual scattering of accompanying resolutions - some writing-related, some life-related, some day-to-day related.

I've concentrated a lot on writing books over the last few years, but let the shorter work slip while doing so. Recently, I've begun to write more short fiction again (completed a short mainstream collection, "Dark Heart" recently, and made a recent poetry sale, as well as a non-fiction writing article sale. The poem, "Burial" will be out in January's "Poe Little Thing 4" published by Naked Snake Press, and the article in this June's edition of "The Canadian Writer's Journal". I have been prolific over the holidays, having produced a half dozen non-fiction articles for marketing while tinkering with the fiction end of things.

I look forward to joining a local writer's group this winter, a compendium of local authors with serious mindsets toward writing and publishing. We need more of this around here. Cheers to the venture!

In another week, classes begin again (sigh); they can be time-consuming, and lately my energy has been depleted by too many things. I'd been walking an hour a night for months, but found that I got the chance to do little of this during the month of December. The reasons were varied: poor weather, viruses, work schedules, and the ruckus of the holidays.

Truthfully, I'm glad that the holidays are done and now I can get back into the regular routine of things. Plow through winter (no, I'm not a skier, nor do I own a Skidoo) but I am a kayaker and look forward to the spring with much anticipation of the warming thaw, and the opening again of the riverways and tributaries. I am also a hiker and bicyclist who covets the clear paths through woodlands and valleys.

Set the boat in the water and step in, using the oar to push out from the river's edge. Immediately, fine mist and the river embraces you. You float out, slowly, moving the paddle just enough to forward your momentum into the current. The river deepens below you. You look down and watch the water deepen in hue as river grasses expand and rise up, forming mountains of emerald filled with tiny fish whose shadows ripple along the bottom of the river. A faint aroma of brine and water fill the air. In the distance, ducks take flight at your approach, their wings beating a path over the water's surface until they rise into the air, silhouetted against the pink sky. Sunrise on the river. In the helm of the kayak, dry bags contain fresh vegetables and fruit, energy bars, a small cookstove that will be lit upon the flat surface of a dry rock upon reaching a distant shore. Hours of paddling inspire a hunger and thirst.

Nothing quite equals the sheer joy of being alive than to sit in soft grasses by the water's edge in a place far from the regular flow of human traffic; far from highways and trails, on the lip of an island out in the middle of the river, with metal coffee mug clasped between hands, kayak pulled out of the water so that it's tip rests against sand, the waves rocking it a little, to watch the morning wane toward noon.

After a morning and afternoon like this, I come home and write. Writing keeps me sane, and kayaking ties the package together like a silken ribbon, putting the final touch around the day.

I did walk this morning; husband and I set out with dog into the woods, skirting the frozen surface of the landscape coated in last week's ice rain offering. We walked, collars pulled up high around our cheeks while dog bounded ahead, back legs scissoring with precision between front legs, canine-style. Snow crunched and collapsed under our feet, creating miniscule craters depicting our passage through what had otherwise been virgin snow until our walk. We watched our breath form clouds ahead of us. The air was as crisp as the snap of a dry branch. The colors of the land were alabaster, ochre, and the subdued brown of wood bracing itself against this often merciless season. Somewhere, a hint of wood smoke, a promise of warmth hidden inside a hearth. At one point, ice hid beneath a dusting of fine snow and compromised my footing. I did an involuntary little pirouette before righting myself. The river flowed ahead of us, mostly frozen, save for meager patches of cobalt where the current stays active.
"We could kayak in that," says husband.
"Simply run with it, allowing the kayak to float across the ice and out into the pool," says I. Wistful thinking, that.
With a smile and a shrug, we turned around and headed back to the car. Dog bounded ahead of us, unpeturbed by this yearning to paddle, or the weather.
Home to a hot toddy with a generous dollop of rum.
And now, the anecdote shared, of a winter morning that inspired me to write.

Happy New Year to those who have stopped in to read. May the year be generous to you, and may you discover your own island in whatever it is you choose to do.