In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Time, Strawberries, and a Red Squirrel


I see it's been a few weeks since I've added a post here. Some seasons are like that: I visited my sons and in another state my sister, got the vegetable garden planted, hauled a hundred wheelbarrows of shredded bark to dress the flower gardens and the new hedge line, and more. But I'm back in gear.

Last weekend I stood in a nicely shaded oxen shed at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds with eight or nine other authors of Vermont fiction, chatting with people who came to enjoy the Vermont History Expo. On Saturday morning I hurriedly picked some strawberries from the garden to leave on the table for my husband, who gets up a bit later, if time allows. Sunday morning, though, I didn't have time. But Sunday evening when I got home, before I even unloaded the car, I went to water the hanging basket of petunias next to the strawberry bed. Oddly, right in the middle of the "meditation bench" there, I saw a red strawberry. Could I have dropped it there on Saturday? It didn't seem likely. I was so tired that I just shrugged and left it there, figuring I'd catch up with the strawberries on Monday morning (today).

When I got up today, I went to the top of our office stairs, as I always do, to sit out in the fresh air and be silent for a few moments, remembering what Life is for. The stairs lead down to the meditation bench and the berry bed. As I opened my eyes after my pause, a flash of movement on the bench caught my eye! I stayed perfectly still, and realized a bushy-tailed red squirrel was there. A moment later, the squirrel ran away from the bench, toward the other side of the yard -- with the strawberry neatly held in his or her mouth.

What should I believe? That the squirrel has been carefully pilfering from the garden, and accidentally left a berry behind one night, and came back to retrieve it? I am amazed!

Of course, we are already sharing the garden with the robins nesting under the steps, and the catbirds and wrens, and I know the crows come peck holes in the ripest berries. To add a squirrel family as well seems a bit of a strain on the breakfast harvest for my husband.

So, with regret, I fastened the nylon "bird net" over the berry bed just now.

But I don't want the squirrels to have hurt feelings. So every single "rejected" berry from today's picking -- the ones the crows tasted or the ants nibbled -- is now lined up just outside the netted garden, on the grass. Red squirrel, come back. We are in this together, your family and mine.

Oh yes, this is a true story. I must add that assurance, because when I talked with readers at the Vermont History Expo yesterday, we walked carefully along the borders of What Really Happened and how to craft fiction that reflects actual events, not the ones we wish had happened.

"To have peace, we must have justice. To have justice, we must have truth." These are the stories that matter.

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