Wednesday, November 8, 2017

An Unlikely Story

Story ideas come from unlikely places, sometimes even from the random comments of others. Like my short story “The Old Scout,” published today by Flyway Journal.

A couple years ago, on a mild Sunday in early spring, Husband and I headed “up nawth” to Franconia Notch, where the only section of two-lane interstate in the country runs between Cannon Mtn. on the west and a section of the Presidential Range to the east. It’s gorgeous country, with soaring cliffs and winding trails, cloud shadows and eagles’ nests, still lakes and snow-fed streams. And if you listen carefully, they will whisper their stories to you.

In the green shadows of pines, Husband and I skidded over still-icy trails beside the rushing Pemigewasset River, here just a brook; visited the noisy, swirling waters of The Basin; and paid our respects to the Old Man of the Mountain, the “Great Stone Face,” which fell in 2003 and is still mourned by Granite Staters. 

Then, a bit winter-stiff and getting hungry, we drove over to say hi to Mt. Washington, tallest peak in New England and home to the worst weather in the world. 

Parked at the side of the highway, we followed a footpath to a pretty spot along the Ammonoosuc River, where we munched our lunch and basked in the sun. Husband skipped a few pebbles, and I let my eyes drift over the mica-studded rocks in the water. A couple large boulders caught my attention. Sharp-edged, massive, clean of clinging moss and lichen, unlike the other worn and greened stones. I frowned. “I wonder where those big rocks came from,” I mused.

That’s when the magic happened. Husband gathered the whispers floating in the air and gave them voice. “Maybe from when Mt. Washington erupted,” he said.

It made no sense, of course. These are old, stable mountains eroding their way back to oblivion. Not volcanoes. But what if? What if…

The Old Scout whispered his tale to me, and you can read it here . Enjoy it, and the next time you’re out and about--listen.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Random Thoughts After A Long Weekend

At our destination
If ever someone won the daughter-in-law lottery, it’s me. What a gem! She had the insight and the patience to marry my son, of course, but also she’s smart, generous, and a terrific mom. Love you, Joanne.

Not a bad deal in the mother-in-law lottery, either. She’s sweet, shy, uncomplaining, amazed by technology, devoted to family. Her only flaw is that she refuses to come live near us.

My bold, fearless granddaughter (3yo) reminds me of my mother, who late in life finally got a chance to do some aerobatics. Wherever she is, I bet she’s yelling, “Another barrel roll!” in the same way Norah demands “Higher!” when I push her on the swing.

And my by-the-book, tried-and-true, process-driven grandson sat down with me to help knit a “blanket for poor people.” 82 stitches is a lot for an active 7yo. He had all the right-hand moves down pat by the end of the row.

Hot dog! I brought along exactly the right amount of yarn to knit into four squares of an afghan, plus enough to make a little sweater for Mr. Moose, Norah’s birthday present.

By far, the highlight of the trip is seeing how the grands adore their Grandpa, and vice versa. They play, roughhouse, read, tickle, swarm, hug, tease, wheedle, and cuddle all over him. He eats it up. He was a great dad, but he’s even better as a granddad.

In the car

My sweet lord, I miss George Harrison.

At my funeral, will someone please play Loreena McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer” and Yes’ “The Meeting.” Note that I don’t see either of them in a traditionally religious light. To me they express how one finds the courage to face the trials of life.

Speaking of George: why do I get all teary-eyed about him, but not about my mother?

Thanks to my son for the bootleg CD of a keyboard genius and master storyteller. A real treat!

Back home again

Laundry multiplies when you ignore it for four days. So does email. And bills.

The darned vole dug itself a new tunnel into the garden, but the garlic-based repellent evidently dissuaded it from chewing the beans. I need to pick some lettuce and the last of the peas, then plant some more green beans and spinach. Tomatoes and peppers are in flower, and the popcorn has shot up.

It's amazing how a 12-mile bike ride to work the kinks out and celebrate a gorgeous summer day leaves me feeling weary but surprisingly refreshed.

We were very comfortable at the kids’ house, but it’s good to sleep in our own bed.