I would say this morning was a shocker, but I find that being from New Hampshire means early May is always hit or miss. While in the Washington DC area and other southern parts of the USA, it's usually in the 60s or 70s with flowers in full bloom and people smiling about, in northern New England we are flipping a coin trying to figure out if it's still winter or our one day of spring has arrived.
The nice thing about snowy, cold, and windy Saturday mornings is that many are quick to stay in bed. This meant a quiet running wonderland if you will for me. There was no hum of fishing boats on the lakes or cyclists doing their best Tour de France imitations. Even those early morning dog walkers were leery to leave the safety of home. For me this was all a good thing.
I debated on visiting my deer friend, wondering if she was game for another conversation. No, that encounter will have to wait for another day. I'm too consumed right now figuring out the best way to deal with a feisty oriole. This bloated bird has decided that words are unnecessary and defecating on my car daily is the way to go after I took away the bird feed and cut down part of the rhododendron his family was residing in for countless generations. Yeah, I know this sounds like an intervention for Jerry or Maury.
While I am sure I have more adventures and random tales to share, I have to take a look at google maps for a 90 minute drive north. For some reason I decided a 1992 World Book Encyclopedia edition with 17 books is the next mission before I can sit down and write a substantial story again. Till next week . . .
Perhaps the titles says everything. I have a new crush or dare I write there is a new crush on me? This isn't some fan of my books or a secret admirer, nope this is a girl I ran into while running this morning. As I parked my car at the town park, there she was in the distance. Always friendly, I waved. She turned her head and looked curiously at me.
I told her she didn't have to leave, but maybe in hindsight I shouldn't have been so inviting. Starting my warm up I watched this long legged creature mimic my path. She stayed far enough away to practice good social distancing, but she made sure I could still see her.
I turned onto the dirt road towards the lake and boom she bolted from the trees directly in front of me, maybe twenty feet between us. She even stopped mid stride, tilted her head and nodded.
"What are you doing?"
She slowed her pace and waited for me to catch up. At this point, I thought she might just head back into the woods, but no my deer friend kept a close eye on me with every step I took. She must be a fan of the Police.
I wasn't sure what to do. She had a skip to her walk and I swear she smiled as we continued to exchange glances. Like most of her kind, I figured she would disappear at once but not this atypical girl.
I walked onward.
"It's okay you can go back. I'll just walk for a bit."
She didn't like my words. Perhaps she fumed or she was disappointed, all I know is she ran across the dirt road and over the fence into the adjacent woods.
I thought that was the end of our exchange, but she stopped yet again. She kept looking at me.
I have to admit, I felt a bit apprehensive at this point. I wasn't sure what her intentions were. Turning around, I decided to go back to the main road.
She would have none of it. She hastened her approach through the trees.
"Stay! I have to go and run. You stay!"
She lowered her head. I didn't look back to see whether there were any fresh tears on her face.
Independent and true to her spirit, she didn't want me to forget her, that much was clear. Her long legs jumped over the fence and she ran across my path one more time before returning to the forest.
I shortened my stride and decided it was time to run. I didn't need her as a running companion despite the potential banter and companionship.
Over the next hour I ran along the lake without incident. Despite the light rain and the warmer weather, it felt like any other run, save the thoughts of this sweet deer who crossed my path. Feeling more confident that I would be solo for the remainder of the run, I cut onto another dirt road.
It was less than two minutes when I stumbled across her and one of her girlfriends. I imagine she had been busy sharing her version of the story of our fateful meeting. While her friend rushed for the trees, she was hesitant. I watched her follow for several strides only to stop in a small clearing where she would have a direct view of my path.
We exchanged one final look as I disappeared on the windy road.
Leaving her behind, I wondered where did all the men go? During this quarantine period were they separated too?
It's hard to believe but I have been virtually on self quarantine for close to six weeks maybe more. I don't know about you but at this point the days and weeks are rolling together. While I know what day of the week it is, the fact that we are only now ending April is a bit surprising. Come to think of it, my winter was muted and quiet with only a few storms, but since my move it has felt colder than typical years at this time.
Perhaps that's one of the perks of quarantine is noticing the small details and changes to our days. Not only has it been consistently in the low 30s - high 20s in my new home, the birds each day appear more in number. This includes a rather husky Oriole who decided to take a number two on my deck chair yesterday then perch on the hand rail, taunting me with his heaving chest. We'll see who wins this battle in the long run. At least I know enough to not keep flying myself into the glass door. Maybe the third time will be the charm, right you bloated orange-feather-monster?
I kid though but seriously the bird might be a bit confused. I also don't think it realizes there is a wandering black panther, or domestic cat (everything looks bigger at 5am), that stalks the perimeter of my home.
In between my nature watching, home improvement, and food runs, life is filled with work. Counting myself as one of the lucky ones, school is still in session. That's a good thing for the students and for me. This is typically the toughest part of the year for students. We have gotten through the winter grind and are looking towards the end of academic year. Historically, many kids have vacation now but with so many states issuing at home orders, vacation is a loose term and well for many schools now a work week so they can finish in mid May or early June.
The continued challenge is that in previous years students have spring vacation as a quick respite before the final push to the finish. Now there is no respite and the push is filled with unknowns and other variables beyond our control. For those graduating or transitioning on to a new grade or school, those end of year traditions are being lost. While I feel for those students who were looking forward to prom or walking the graduation stage, now they will have a different story to share with future generations likely filled with multiple versions of a fat oriole and a panther causing havoc at home.
I don't know if that it's a good thing, but at least there's a story involved right?
I don't know if I really should call it blues because as a more introverted person by nature, I prefer to avoid the masses. Still, the last 5 weeks have been quite chaotic even for me, perhaps not for the reasons one would think. I bought a house and moved. After that it's been getting settled and things put away. Now with Easter in the rear, I'm taking a moment to breathe and collect my thoughts.
With that, this website is back up and running for those eyes that find it. For far too long, I'm let this whittle down to nothing. Granted, part of it was life circumstance but another part was just not being in the right place to contribute. To that end, I think I'm in a better place now to do that. Heck I even have a writing loft in my new house with a white board wall for my ideas.
Wanting to write more, create, and share, expect to see more entries in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, here are some photos from the last few weeks. I have taken to drives during this crisis period. I don't stop anywhere but go out an explore new spots. That's the fun in living in a new area. I even found a closed prison less than four miles from where I live, perfect for future book settings.
I will be the first to admit that my greatest reads in my early years were no other then the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia. While I can tell you a great deal about dear Frodo, if I had to choose between the two, Aslan wins every single time.
As I have gotten older, my appreciation for C.S. Lewis and his books have only grown. While they aren't the longest fantasy books, the messages throughout are universal and timeless. The idea of Narnia, the talking animals, and just the adventures that the children had resonated to my core.
Today, there are two reasons for my sharing. To begin, it's the holiday season and well the White Witch will be arriving soon in my part of the world. Once snow begins to fall, I find my treks through the trails reminiscent of Narnia. With that in mind and the fact that last year while shopping I found another reminder of the world, magnifies this winter season. I have posted the picture for you to see.
For my writing, without Narnia, there would be no Luza. You can call it fan fiction if you want, but the world I created paid compliments to Lewis and to everything he shared. Even some of the characters, Aslan specifically, make an appearance if you pay close enough attention.
As the holiday season gets underway and you find yourself looking for a warm familiar read, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe might be a good choice and for those wanting a new adventure, take a look at Luza.
With school well underway, I have been busy to say the least. At night I have made a habit to read before bed. While I should be sharing more on the latest books that have caught my eye, in all honestly I have been revisiting my books for the last month or so. Going back to the beginning of September, I've been inspired by my special woman. First, I found myself revisiting my time living in Italy by reading Head over Heel by Chris Harrison. The book itself is not only a travelogue but a love story on how Chris relocated from Australia to be with his Italian love. I read the book prior to moving to Italy and then two times now since my return. All I can say is that if you truly want to understand the people and the ways of southern Italy, this is the book to read. The story encompasses the passion, love, and spirit of the Italian identity. For me this opportunity to read the book once more, made the time I had in Italy more meaningful and an experience I will cherish in the years to come.
Fittingly, after I traveled back from Puglia, I wanted to read some of my older books prior. I don't know if many authors do this, aside from the editing process, but this was a first for me. I hadn't read Swimming With Angels or Going Home since their release over four years ago. I will admit the reading was eventful. Sure I grimaced occasionally at an awkward line, word, or even typo, but I found myself intrigued with the writer who sat down and created this story. Where was I in my life when I wrote that chapter or developed those characters?
I don't know if revisiting these stories was cathartic, but personally I took so much from this reading experience. Where the writing process allowed me to work out continued grief over the loss of my twin and where I stood in that progression of time since his passing, the reading process was equally rewarding. With Christian embodying so many of my characteristics, I had a front row seat in his journey and could compare it to my own. I think in many ways, I was able to reflect and learn how to move forward in a manner that the character was unable to do.
While this is more personal than many of my blogs, I share it because I think we all should revisit a favorite book or story. There are layers of meanings for us to digest in the most juicy of tales. Even if we know the story by heart, the reader, you and I have changed in those days from the last sit down, that the experience alone might leave us forever changed.
In the days ahead, read a book from your youth or from days gone by. Who knows you might find a shift in yourself or a new appreciation for the story that you never knew.
Earlier on the radio this week, I heard the host state that fall arrived. Once Labor Day passes, at least in New Hampshire the shift away from summer is underway. Many of the tourists that blanketed our small coastline or went to their cabins in the Lakes Region, are back to school and the routines they left in June. While the weather is still warm and pleasant, the trees are telling a different story.
Some of the leaves are changing color, although they won't be glorious for several more weeks. There is a chill in the air one that we didn't notice a mere three weeks ago. Even last weekend, I was in the lake swimming. The water will remain pleasant enough until early October and then the downward spiral to winter will ensue.
Like many people I found myself busy the last month with a week vacation to Maine and then just getting ready for the pending school year. I have been with students now for three weeks and so in a way, my summer ended mid August. My summer goals of writing a new book had to be put aside for other things and so I look towards the months ahead and on when I can possibly return to those unfinished tales.
To that end, I'm grateful for the shift. While the winter is long in New Hampshire, as the seasons pass, I do look forward to the transition. I may still be out in shorts and a t-shirt, but others have already gathered up their hoodies and parkas. Whether out of habit or necessity, for them mid 60s means summer really has come to an end.
Inspired by Freddo's album, I decided to post a gallery of some of my favorite pictures the last five years. Many of these have influenced my books, whether it be specific scenes, characters, or even settings. As a rule, I like to place my books in real locations. I'll add comments on some for your enjoyment.