I will forego the usual end-of-year lamentations for time passing too swiftly, and instead continue to live in this year, this day, this moment, as though this is all there is. Which, as we all know but so often fail to appreciate, is exactly how it is.
This morning (I write this on Monday, in a cafe) on my way out for the day (it is my day off, and my writing class is on semester break), my wife asked me to drop off a bag of give-away at a thrift store. The closest one is a Goodwill, and is near to the cafe where I like to write. So I went to the store, dropped off the bag, and went inside to look around: you never know what you will find.
I tried on, and passed on, a pair of rubber-footed insulated boots. Too loose and some lacing cleats were missing. Found a light green ventilated shirt, size M. That’s always a try-on, as most mediums fit me in the body but are too short in the sleeve. I unslung one arm from my jacket and pulled on a shirt sleeve. Not too short, so that’s a keeper. I won’t use it till next summer, of course, but I like to be prepared. Being so skinny, I’ve always heated up, and cooled off, quickly. I remember my 3rd grade teacher being kind of shocked when I peeled off my shirt after doing the second of five laps around the blacktop foursquare area as discipline for talking while in line. Even now I keep multiple shirts, vests, and jackets in my car and work truck. I must be part cold-blooded lizard or something. But I digress…
No camera bags on the shelves to tempt me, so on to the bookshelves!
A copy of a book my daughter wants, good. A thick book of poetry, The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems, by Californian Robert Haas, Poet Laureate of the United States 1995-97. I drive through Olema every Tuesday on my Pt. Reyes area delivery route. So that’s another keeper. Then, to my delight, a book I’d seen only once, years ago, and forgotten about. One of those books too big to speed-read through at the bookstore, and too pricey for me to buy new. “Part manifesto, part artist’s portfolio, and part technical manual” says the inside flap of Julianne Kost’s Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography & Creative Thinking. Happy Monday!
By this time I was getting hungry and had not yet decided whether to walk and shoot photos first, or sit and write. But my stomach overruled my feet and eyes, so here I sit. As I went to look for a seat, I saw Daniella, a photographer who used to work as a chef at a cafe I deliver to. She’s one of those Superwomen who does lots of things and does them well. One of those things is going through the California Naturalist programs offered throughout the state, to train “citizen-scientists” who can get involved in their local geography as volunteers, docents, etc. As I recall, her class project involved studying bears in the Willow Creek watershed, an area I use to ride horseback in and never, ever, gave thought to having bears living within. Having grown up in a time de-populated of cougars and bears, I tend to forget that they have returned to so many places. Silly me, and bravo to the bears! (And cougars, and coyotes, and all the four-leggeds that the two-leggeds tried to kill off.)
It being the end of the month, this blog takes priority over my other writing, but just in the last couple of days I had ideas, or opening lines, come to me for stories. I wrote down the lines or idea-words on pieces of scratch paper and tucked them into the book I am mostly-reading right now, M Train by Patti Smith. (I say “mostly-reading” because I read a lot of books at the same time, but usually there is one that rises to the top and becomes the front runner. Although it depends on my mood and location as to what I pick up at any given moment; I keep books in my car, in my work bag, alongside my bed, in boxes, bags, and shelves… don’t you? But I digress…) Now, I had read some reviews of M Train (some loved it, some did not) and put it on hold at the library. I’m something like #125 in the queue. But, aha! The library now has a section called “Your Lucky Day” that contains copies of new, popular books available only to walk-in patrons. And there it was when I went to the library the other day. I am liking it: lots of writing about writing while drinking coffee in cafes at favorite tables. And living in the moment, and memories of travels, and things that — I don’t know — might be fiction but are delivered in the same matter-of-fact tone as the reporting of mundane activities like watching TV detective shows or feeding the cats. The first sentence, the first paragraph, of the book is: “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.”
Well, it’s on to my free coffee refill. The bear claw is finished (I just realized how appropriate that pastry was to the writing this morning — I like that!) and Daniella has left without saying goodbye (but her hello was warm enough, whereas the pastry was only room-temperature.) Now, where should I go today?