“Anticipation, Anticipaa-aa-tion, Is making me late, Is keeping me wai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ting.”
Although “Boys in the Trees” is a great album, I’m not a particular fan of Carly Simon because she brings to mind Mick Jagger. (That’s a little weird. But they dated, and I can’t forget that romantic romp.) However, her song, “Anticipation,” describes my mood as I await the third manuscript from my formidable
assassin editor, who has been gallivanting around Ireland with her beau. But I’m not wasting a moment of our short summer, which is precious. Like life itself.
I hiked almost seven miles along a mountain ridge Saturday, starting above 10,000 feet. The cinquefoils (the yellow flower in the banner photo), lupines, and mountain parsley are exploding. The views were breathtaking—although the climb might have been the culprit.
I’ll fly fish one of our great mountain rivers on Friday, and another next week. Runoff has been formidable because of heavy May snow. Rivers rage and creeks rush, delighting rafters and frustrating anglers because heavy waters obscure the wily trout’s vision to the point that it can’t see a fly. (Bummer.)
I’m attending two concerts before Sunday, as well as celebrating the Fourth of July with family. Perched under my umbrella for shade, I’ll watch the parade through town: little kids on decorated bicycles and big kids on decorated motorcycles; bands, floats, clowns, and costumed dogs; promenading rodeo queens. (Yee-haw!)
And the garden. On, my garden. It’s amazing, thanks to that May precipitation. I haven’t seen a doe in two weeks, which means they are birthing fawns. I expect the yard to be covered in hungry spotted creatures in days, and I’m drowning valuable plants in DeerOff. (Our wet May means the meadows are green, so they may feast elsewhere. Thank you.)
A rabbit has dug a burrow in the lavender border beneath the utility room window. Rambunctious bunnies should cavort soon, easily traceable by wiggling tall grass and piles of petals at the base of stems. (They, too, can dine elsewhere, since DeerOff repels rabbits.)
All these activities, for reasons unrelated to literary syntax, return me to the third book, which I’m eager to polish. I’m absolutely thrilled about it. My middle-aged female protagonist, archaeologist Grace Madison, is alone in hostile territory, battling far more than fawns and bunnies and Mick Jagger. I’ve shared little about this book so far, but it’s a personal journey of understanding. And growth—something I hope I never stop doing.
Growth: the stuff of summer here. And, I hope, the story of my life.
Happy Fourth of July!
I have walked with Oswald Chambers, via My Utmost for His Highest, since 1977, the year I purchased my now-tattered copy of that iconic work. My exploration of Thomas Merton, the pacifist monk, coincided with my move to this mountaintop, and I confess that I am addicted to his devotionals.
Today’s piece, from A Year with Thomas Merton, is so spot on. (There’s a reason this book is my most dog-eared.) It’s entitled, Needing to Turn a Corner. It starts with this line.
“The realization that I need to turn a corner, to slough off a skin.”
Exactly. My skin gets thicker every day. I barrel through my tasks, inundated (despite intentionally limiting my exposure) by global negativity or Godlessness, and focused on my life, my people, my world—much like my protagonist, middle-aged archaeologist Grace Madison. It’s not that we’re neglecting responsibilities or doing bad things. We’re just busy with our environments as our skin thickens, comfortably distanced from the need for compassion to move beyond what surrounds us.
Merton goes on to say this.
“Certainly I can write something. But not to preach, not to dogmatize, not to be a pseudo-profit, not to declare my opinions. And yet it is essential to take a moral stand on some point.”
That’s where the fiction comes into play for me. I write about characters engaging with issues that are dear to me, like potable/clean water and war, and who are committed to a Christian worldview. By writing fiction, I try to create my own context within the realities of our world.
Merton concludes with these words, which resonate with Mahatma Ghandi’s non-violent resistance. (BTW, I realize that war can be necessary, so hold your fire.)
“What is required of some of us, and chiefly of me, is a solitary and personal response in the form of non-acquiescence, but quiet, definite, and pure.”
Of course, Merton cites the totally individual nature of his response, as well as the need for his action to reflect his beliefs alone. But to do that, a person has to know what he or she believes, and why. And that knowledge inherently tethers an individual to a community because beliefs are refined by others, and we exist in communities every day. (The exception is to become a hermit, which sometimes sounds like a viable option, right?)
Do you know what you believe? Has your skin become too thick? Does your life offer moments of quiet and solitude in which to explore your heart and soul?
The last couple of months have been filled with eldercare while completing the third manuscript, which is in the
assassin’s editor’s hands now. While I was in Texas, cows floated through the flooding at the neighboring ranch, so I returned to my mountaintop especially thankful to be out of a low-lying area. I now am enveloped in a very green early summer.
A herd of cow elk hover at the tree line on the peak north of me, and they’ll calve soon. A rabbit that lives under the rock bench on a knoll above our meadow has blessed us with blond bunnies. Their antics make me smile every morning when I brew my hot tea.
The first of the house wrens is warbling madly outside the office, on a perch on one of the mountain blue bird houses. A pair of vicious magpies attack me when I walk behind the house, fiercely protecting their nest in a serviceberry bush in the meadow. I remember protecting my young, so cut their aggression some slack.
We will choose to ignore the pile of bear scat on the driveway. Thank you. I will garden armed.
The past four summers have been amazing: landscaping, church activities, writing, marketing. But this is going to be different. I have neglected that which is most important: family and inner growth. I plan to practice the Christian discipline of solitude this summer (once I finish incorporating the editor’s assault on my work). To hear God, I have to slow down a bit and focus on listening.
This parallels my protagonist’s, archaeologist Grace Madison, journey in book three. While my upcoming posts will reflect an inner journey, they also will include bits and pieces of her journey. Hers is much more dangerous, of course, somewhere far more volatile than my peaceful perch. Here’s a hint!
I’m so glad you’re here. You make this adventure much richer. I appreciate you and want you to know that you are a part of my success: we’ve sold almost 5,000 books in eleven months!
Summertime! Share it with me.