Refilling The Well

Canada Geese northbound

 

It’s spring, and a young bird’s fancy turns….

Okay, I finally believe it. Spring is really here. I mean, once I’ve seen the Canada Geese flying north in formation, I know it’s just me who hasn’t felt it. I trust their internal clocks more than mine, because their time doesn’t get messed with, they don’t deal with things like daylight savings time and other man-made idiocies that keep us thinking we’re somehow in control of nature. (can you tell I’m not a fan? Grump, snarl…)

But I digress.

I’ve introduced my neighbors before. But in case you missed it, here they are, sharing a quiet moment in a nearby tree.

eagle pair

One of the great joys of living in the Northwest is seeing these magnificent creatures on a regular basis. This time of year, almost daily. One of the first bird calls  I learned when we moved here years ago was theirs; it’s unmistakable once you’ve heard it. (I was given a small, stuffed bald eagle as a gift once, the type you squeeze and get the bird’s call. They got it exactly right.)

Everyone, writer or not, I think finds themselves now and then in a place where they just can’t keep going. Where they’re beaten down, too weary to go on. Where they’ve gone to the well once too often, and this time come up dry. Times like this, you need to know what refills your well, and then make a conscious effort to do it. For some it’s reading for hours. For others it’s getting outdoors, walking or hiking. For some it’s traveling.

For some, like me,  it’s doing something with your hands, creating something entirely different. Knitting, for me, takes up an entirely different set of brain cells, and lets the writing part of the brain rest and refill. And when I can combine it with sitting outdoors and waiting for my neighbors to come by, it’s even better.

Since I’m between books at the moment, I’ve had time to enjoy the show that truly means spring around here. My neighbors are celebrating the arrival in the way only they can. By flying, soaring, together.

eagle pair flight

And this year, for only the second time since I’ve lived here, I had the soul-stirring joy of watching an eagle courtship flight. Something impossible to describe, impossible even to really show in pictures, but once you’ve seen it in person, you will never, ever forget it. These two glorious, powerful birds soar skyward. They turn. Lock talons. And fall. Fall in a turning, twisting tumble that is breathtaking. Locked together they plummet, cartwheeling, trusting their instincts and their own strength to save them when at last they break apart, only to soar upward and do it all again.

Courtship. Of the most heart-racing kind. A little bit dangerous. Requiring complete trust. But worth it, in the end. And if you didn’t already know, bald eagles mate for life.

That’s why they refill my well, in a way few things can.

 

eagle dance crop

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There Will Be Tomatoes

Why is my deck wet and what is that stuff falling from the sky?

It’s raining. In Seattle. Perhaps the very definition of “That’s hardly news!” But this year, it is. You see, up until it started late yesterday, it had been 82 days since we last had more than the barest measurable rain. And I love the rain. I missed it. Then, in the space of a few days we went from 70-80 degree days to 50s or 60s, and dropping low into the 40s at night. And my green, green view from my porch is now looking like this:

Weren’t they all green just yesterday??

If you just arrived here today, when it’s cold, wet, and windy, you’d swear it could be a winter day. It wouldn’t be the first time we skipped an entire season;  a couple of years ago winter lasted until June and we jumped straight into summer, skipping spring altogether. It can be…disconcerting. At least, it is for me. The wind is howling, rain hitting the windows, there’s a chill in the air and I’m thinking of building a fire, and yet….

And yet this morning I picked these:

Hard to believe these were once considered unfit to eat or poisonous–and tell me all you want it’s a fruit, to me it’s a veggie and one of the few I love. Don’t pop my bubble!

And then, so inspired, I trekked up to my apple tree and cleared one branch of apples.

Yes, I said ONE branch!

So you can see why I’m having trouble with the idea of winter suddenly being here. (then again, some sunny days in October aren’t that unusual, so who knows?) I fully realize that the reason I’m drowning in tomatoes and apples likely is that lovely 82 day dry, warm, and sunny streak. It certainly isn’t because of me; the tomato plants are lucky if I remember to water them, and I feed them once, after planting. The apple tree I ignore altogether, except to prune away crossed branches sometime in January. And then, only the ones I can reach. Still, every third or fourth year, it goes insane and every branch ends up like this:

At least the deer won’t have far to reach

So, what does this have to do with anything? It struck me that this sort of confused, sudden transition instead of the usual gradual one is somewhat like finishing a book. My writing routine is so ingrained, half the time I’m up and at the computer before I remember I’m not in the middle of a story at the moment. Like the plants that got used to the sun and now are suddenly looking at rain and cold, I’m in a startled kind of in between. Yes, there’s another story on the way, the synopsis already on the way to my editor. But in between now and starting that book, there’s that unsettled period. I’ll knit, of course, that’s a given. The rest of the time I could fritter away playing computer games or catching up on movies I’ve recorded. I should use it to finish cleaning out my garage before new doors finally come (a sad story I won’t go into here). But somehow I think I’ll be taking out some of those odd little bits and pieces of stories I accumulate when I’m in the middle of a contracted book. Things that call to me enough that I know I have to write the bits down or they won’t leave me alone. Things that may become books of their own, be woven into books already planned, or become a part of a story as yet unformed.

The only thing I can be sure of is, as long as the seasons keep coming, there will be tomatoes. And apples.

And stories. Thankfully for me, that’s not news. That’s life, for a storyteller.