Thursday, August 30, 2012

Friend or Foe?

If it hadn't happened twice before, I'd think of it as simple coincidence, and that I just happened to be sitting in a momentary hovering place of a hummingbird when it flew near to me. But after yesterday's third encounter with a tiny glistening thing zooming in close enough to look me in the eye, I've come to believe our ruby-throated hummers are a delightfully curious species—and that it might have been the exact opposite of coincidence. Is it possible they zoom in intentionally to wherever I'm long-sitting for the purpose of checking me out?

Yesterday morning I was enjoying a second cup of coffee on the deck, having just seen Sarah and the children off to school, when a ruby throated fellow caught my eye zooming from the feeder to the cherry tree. Next thing I knew he zoomed to a hovering place about ten feet in front of me, then closer, to about two feet away, where he hovered sideways, the better to get a good look at my face. I could hear the hum of his wings. He is aptly named. We looked directly into each other's eyes for a long and breathtaking moment. I don't know what he was thinking, but I was fully entranced.

I like to imagine he carried a message from the universe that it was time to get writing, but he was more likely on a mission to discover what kind of creature would sit so still for so long, and if I posed a threat to his kind. He must have determined me safe because he went directly to the feeder from my sphere of energy.

It's not unusual to see hummingbirds at the sipper now, nearing, as we are, the southward migration season.  But to stare one in the eye was a magical experience that transported this writer straight into her story. Thank you for that, Mr. Literal Redneck. dkm

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Graceful Surprise

I call them pearls. I receive six of them every day. Six quiet hours of writing time during which the children are in school.  It's a term borrowed from Virginia Woolf, who named a free day in which to write, a "pure and rounded pearl."  I rarely have a fully free day, and when I do, I waste much of it, so I've chosen to attach the designation to a free hour. It has made all the difference.

To receive six pure and rounded pearls of grace in a day is a gift unimagined, brought to me by daughter Sarah and her children. It makes for more productive and focused writing. At long last I can see the end of the little work of fiction I've been playing with for the past SEVEN years (!!!!), have even gone so far as to claim a goal to finish it off before my next birthday, two months from now, thanks to having grandchildren move into my house.

The astonishing thing about all this is that I didn't realize it was happening until a hummingbird pointed it out during my long sit on the deck this morning.  More about that surprising encounter next post.  dkm

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Peace in the Valley Farm

To make good on a promise from June 19th, here are a few photos of Jim and Sandy's goat farm, soon to become a bed and breakfast establishment.  It will be a wonderful place of quietude for anyone who needs to return, for a time, to natural peace of soul, and for a hearty breakfast of fresh farm eggs, goat milk, and cheese, not to mention a bath with their divine goat milk soap. It's my location of choice for writing retreats. 

I love the fervor Jim and Sandy throw into their work, resulting in a setting that looks deceptively simple to the casual visitor. But no. Not simple. Except for the house and property itself, they developed the farm together, from scratch. 

Jim built the barn from lumber he sawed himself when he worked at a sawmill. He designed and built a chicken condominium that is the home of any rooster's dreams. He studies the culture of goat farming in all his spare time. He and Sandy entertain guests almost every weekend. They attend goat shows. Who, in our family, knew there was such a thing? 

Sandy is cheese and soap maker extraordinaire. She cans pickles and okra and other southern specialties from their sizable garden. She's the chief mower of the farm acreage. She eats a jalapeƱo pepper like an apple. Sandy is retiring this month from the federal prison system to go to work fulltime on the farm. She is one beautiful, remarkable, capable, savvy, kind, decent, and hard-working woman. I know this because, aside from her work with inmates at the Alabama Federal Correction Institution, she tamed and married my baby brother, a professional drummer of high temperament. Ethnic Mennonite, you understand, but of high temperament just the same. His big sisters and brother are amazed at his current life. We were town kids, for crying out loud. There's just no accounting for dreams. dkm

What? You thinkWE ate that row?
Goldthwaite Kentucky Wonder (Tuck)

I tried to copy Niki's pigtails. 


Friday, August 17, 2012

The Nature of Family

After two months away from writing or reading blogposts, it feels a little artificial to start right in again with no explanation for my absence. Be it enough to say my grandchildren moved into my house? Probably, but au contraire, it's not within my nature to leave it at that.  If any reader friends are still out there, I'll indulge in one post about our new adventure, then return to nature blogging, with renewed intent to keep personal life out of it, except as it applies to my observations of the natural world.

Though I hadn't intended the June 19th post to be my last, on June 23, our daughter, Sarah, and her two children, Makayla age 8, Nickolas age 4, moved into the basement apartment of our house—a major lifestyle adjustment for all of us. Evenso, I kept expecting each day to be the day I would post again, but with grandchildren at every turn, it didn't work out that way.

When I retired five years ago to tackle a long-imagined mirage of becoming a writer of children's stories, I knew I didn't have a lot of years left for such an ambitious undertaking. I worked hard (am still working hard) on this project, and advised both my daughters not to wait till the end of their income-earning careers to make of their lives what they most longed for. I vowed to encourage their visions to whatever extent I was able, as my mother had mine.

So we were not surprised—and wanted to be supportive—when Sarah, who was then working in a university development office, envisioned graduate school in her chosen field of visual arts—especially after she had undergone two major surgeries to remove a paralyzing tumor on her spine, an ordeal that hurled all of us into a new recognition of the fragile nature of time vs life goals. Sarah's husband, Thad, is equally supportive of her vision. Sparing you all the wheels that had to turn to make it happen,  Sarah and children will be living with us in Atlanta during her stint in graduate school, while Thad continues working in Florida with plans to come to Atlanta once a month until he can find work here.

Initially, of course, the apartment preparations and daily summer childcare consumed my leisure hours heretofore spent "long sitting" outside, which had been my path to blogging, in turn allowing the regular practice I needed for more imaginative writing. But everyone is settled now, the children are in school, and Sarah and I have a firm commitment to each other to spend the precious school hours pursuing our own visions, she in her basement studio, I in my upstairs office, which I call the Aerie for its elevated view of the backyard. (V.Woolf's room of one's own, you know.)

Now I look forward to more structured writing hours and have high hopes for mother and daughter to achieve their longings while there's still time. At ages 33 and 63 we must get on with it. Enough about that. dkm
Mak, Sarah, Nick, Thad, Oct 2011