I write just about every single day. Letters, often, though brief Emails outweigh traditional correspondence these days. Sometimes it’s editorial content or news items. Often it is editing and minor “re-writes.” None of it is as satisfying as the totally self-indulgent writing I do here. I can tell when it’s time to sit down and write something. As I go through my daily activities, if I am hankering to write, I find myself composing sentences in my head. Rather than just experiencing, I convert it to the written word.
“Two spotted fawns, with their mother, raised their heads to greet me as I drove past them on the Fox Lake Road.”
“Are the squirrels exhibiting bravery when they – at the last possible moment – dash in front of my car…or is it something darker?”
“A planned day off, filled to capacity with things I needed to accomplish, turned into another day at work, and my long list had to be saved for another day.”
This morning, as I sliced, with my fork, into a piece of french toast, I noticed the pat of melting butter looked like a large eye, and the cut I had made was a mouth.
“A mottled gnome snarled up at me from my breakfast plate this morning…”
I knew it was time to write.
Yesterday, plans had to be put on hold to attend to my paying job. Our summer help is gone. Though business has slacked off, as usual, after Labor Day, we are still short-handed on many days. I went in to work because it was necessary, not because I had nothing better to do.
I was feeling the pressure by the time I got home. With all of my long list of jobs being delayed (which means they are all now crowded in to this one day), and a dinner engagement last evening, my first inclination was to dive in head first, and try to make some progress. I had about an hour before I had to leave.
For the Beacon, I could pull up that one article and begin editing, or send off those obituaries; I could return a couple phone calls and respond to some Emails; I could begin my piece for the next issue, plot out the questions for an interview or write up the article on advertising; I could work on billing for the classified ads or the vendors; I could begin filling out subscription reminders. Too much!
I could rush out to Aunt Katie’s, to try to get her floors vacuumed, swept and mopped before dinnertime. Not enough time.
I could tackle a few jobs that are on my list here, but that list is long, too. Laundry, clean the bathroom, shake the rugs and sweep the floors, clean windows and scour sinks. Outside, the raspberries need to be pruned and the back yard needs mowing…and that is just the bare necessities.
The little dog reminded me that she’d been neglected for another long day, and would like to go outside.
What I needed was a pause.
We headed out to the fields that surround my yard.
My only goal was to pick one hundred blackberries. Of course I would count…I count dishes when I wash them and towels as I fold them…but I had no other plans. I did not bring the bucket, to collect them for pie or for the freezer. I didn’t even bring the small bowl, to save them for a midnight treat with milk and sugar. It was only later that I brought the camera out to photograph them. Pick them; eat them: that was my plan.
It developed into something a little more, in that hour I gave myself. I noticed the sunshine, and the play of the shadows. I breathed in the fresh air, and noted a hint of autumn in the breeze. I tasted every berry as I ate them, one by one: some fully ripe with winy sweetness, others bright and tangy on my tongue. Now and then, one for the little dog, who wagged along beside me.
When I got to twenty berries, it seemed their season was almost done, and I’d never find one-hundred. I crossed the yard to the north side, where wild blueberries and blackberries enjoy the shelter of the old maple trees. At fifty-one, I climbed the fence into the old horse enclosure, to get the big berries in there. At seventy-four, back into my own yard. At eight-five, I thought I was done, until I turned and saw what the bright sun had hidden from view. At one hundred and six berries, I decided I was not dressed to force my way into the center of the wild junipers, to get to the vines that grow there.
I spent the last five minutes just sitting…in the grass…with my dog…and felt that it was a perfect conclusion to one of the best hours I’ve had in a long time!