“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones” — Albert Einstein

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Lonely Pursuit Of Delight

Bear with me as I draw an odd correlation this morning. It was brought on by NPR’s John Augustine’s review of a biography about Beryl Markham, the first to fly solo East to West across the Atlantic against the headwinds that aided Charles Lindbergh.

Her feat thus surpassed Lindbergh’s, but the acclaim was his. She also wrote an autobiography, West With The Night, which is one of my all-time favorites. 

It occurred to me that writers have a lot in common with solo pilots who pursue this “lonely impulse of delight,” a term coined by Yeats to describe solo piloting, but one he could have as easily applied to his own life’s work.  The ultimate flying experience seems to be that of the solo pilot. But for writers, there is no other way to work. 

Yesterday Sally Ride, another pioneer female aviator, died from pancreatic cancer. Ride was the first American female in space. While we often think Americans were the sole pioneers in flight, many terms from aviation come to us from the French: including aviation, fuselage, and May Day, to name a few.   

We have always been as intrigued by flight as we are mystified by the singular pursuit of a writing life, which many see as nothing more than the pursuit of failure. In that regard, there’s a lot of hot air out there about the lonely drunken writer. We don’t need any more hot air in the atmosphere. The oldest flying contraption was the hot air balloon, but the most rewarding profession is writing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

On Fire

It’s a mysteriously foggy morning. The lowing of the cattle carries through the mist and the sun is at bay, like a banked fire. There is garlic to dig and tomatoes to trellis. But first there’s time for a cup of coffee and contemplation while the fog burns off and the landscape emerges.

I’m on my porch now without my sister, she of the musical voice and many words, now at home in a place far away. She of long but infrequent visits, the muse for whom the ink flows, the bubbling brook from which is drawn the angst of regret and the exhilaration of creativity. The visit is over and we plan for the next. The time in between main events is like a lull in the storm, the days we don’t remember, and the people we forget.

I received a Kindle Fire for my birthday. Thus have I entered the age of the electronic reader. I like it. I didn’t think I would.  My siblings got together and made it happen. They think a writer should not be without an electronic reader. I think they're right, as always. I'm the middle child and just try to get along.

About the Kindle: it’s slick as a whistle with color and amazing graphics and a touch screen that is easy to navigate. It’s the gateway to words I can download fast as a hummingbird, even my own. But unlike the hummingbird, I can hold it and keep it.  My first free download was Monsters of Templeton, and then I found Ramona, the tragic love story that takes place in California when it belonged to Mexico. From new releases to lost novels, the Kindle will find it. Some of these treasures are even free. But now I wonder, because I'm suspicious about our new electronic world, can someone with devious intent track what I read, what I highlight and hesitate over? What I return to and the words I look up? Not to spoil the moment, but I'm just saying...I’m old school, a pencil and paper kind of gal.

But I’m not afraid to try new things and while it will never replace the paperback novel and the hardcover treasure, I can see there is a place in my reading life for the Kindle Fire. This is what surprised me: I was reading in bed and evidently deeply absorbed, because at the end of the page,  I lifted my hand to turn it. Yet another occasion to laugh at myself. With the Kindle, you tap the bottom right hand corner to go forward and the left to go back, or you can slide the page with your finger.  I’m still trying to turn them.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Girl And A Dog In The Night(Friday Flash 55)


The girl left the house at dusk and the dog joined her. They hunted field mice in the pasture under the eye of the moon. His excitement pleased her. The grass rustled, and the night was warm. He suddenly paused with his nose aquiver and hackles high. The voices from the farmhouse grew distant.

Friday Flash 55 with Mr. Knowitall is back!! If you have a story in 55 words you'd like to tell, visit him here and let him know, or even if you don't, check the link for lots of super shorts.

I'm a little rusty. Hope you didn't mind a walk in the dark with a dog....


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Staff Of Life

The wheat has ripened to a golden wave, and the harvest has begun. Wheat is impervious to dry heat. It likes it.  I collect the leavings the harvester missed at the row ends and along the edge of the field, like a gleaner. Nothing should be wasted. The oats are next and then the barley. The grains make beautiful arrangements.

Walking the field at sunset I think of Woody Guthrie and his anthems for this land. I wonder what he would think of the preponderance of gated communities and fences that block the view of our lakeshores, the signs that tell us to keep out and hamper our wanderings. Woody knew that all who wander are not lost. I’m proud that my father always posted signs that said: Hunting Permitted. People were respectful. 

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California to the Blue Ridge Mountains
From the Gulf Stream waters
To the redwood forest,
This land was made for you and me. 

As I was walking along the highway
I saw a sign that said
But on the back side
It didn’t say nothing
That’s the side for you and me. 

-Woody Guthrie

After posting this, I noticed the headline in Poets and Writers: A Lost Novel by Woody Guthrie
Isn't that bizarre??