Marching through Wood Shavings and Ashes

ashesMy late mother’s ashes in a box on my bookshelf remind me of Lent, which started with the traditional service and an ash cross on my forehead.

I’m not saving her ashes because they are her—her soul left her body in December—but rather because snow lays thick on the ground. If I release them, they’ll smear across the landscape until the next snowfall. Given that she was a fan of everything beautiful, and I have spent the past five months honoring her wishes, I’m certain she would NOT want to be remembered as a wash of pale gray on white.

So when the snow melts (in May), I’ll scatter ashes across my meadow, among spikes of the wild purple asters and mounds of the wild pink roses that she loved so well. But for now, even as in life, she’s looking over my shoulder.

0222161434As I adjust to a world without her, life marches on. The woodworker continues to build my desk, my only literary indulgence (so far). Yesterday, I stopped by to see the wood for the skirt. It’s Sapele from Africa. We believe it’s linear quality and deeper color will compliment the swirly and paler cherry that comprises the desk top and legs.

0222161438bHis faithful assistant, Shotsi, is my “paws on the ground” between visits. She’s supervising amidst the wood shavings as he prepares the pieces that will, in a few short weeks, be the foundation for my manuscripts—literally! I suspect that every woodworking shop has a IMG_8651pooch, whereas most authors I know have a cat. (Guilty as charged.)

And just as I rely on a variety of tools—travel, maps, atlases, history books, articles, and other reference materials that occupy my bookshelves (with Mother)—to create manuscripts, the woodworker’s shop is a wonderland of clamps and saws and hand tools. Manuscripts and furniture also share careful planning and imagination, and a willingness to risk.



My new desk is symbolic of my rise from the ashes of Mother’s death. I’ll move into the future, with new projects and stories and energy. She’ll be a part of the process as the meadow turns green, and the roses and asters bloom each summer and fall.

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