A long, dark, quiet, tunnel that runs underneath the mountains. Two girls having fun taking pictures. They see a man approaching slowly from the other end of the tunnel but don’t give it much thought, until he’s right next to them. He’s mumbling incoherently and the only word they catch is “jail”. It’s the same pattern of speech over and over, in spite of their attempts to ask him if he’s ok. He’s bigger than they are and not many people are around, so as he steps closer they know their best option is to get out of there.
They calmly gather their things and excuse their selves away from the man. He watches as they head down the tunnel. As they approach the center of the tunnel, the lights overhead go out, leaving them in total darkness, save for the literal, distant light at the end of the tunnel. Daring a glance behind them they see the man is still in the tunnel and they can’t tell if he’s following or only watching. A fit of laughter overtakes them at the ridiculousness of the situation, and laughing is better than crying in panic.
Finally out of the tunnel and safely in the sunlight the friend decides to call the police to have them check on the man in the tunnel in case he’s lost or truly dangerous. Only to discover there’s no signal and then the realization that at some point they are going to have to walk back through that tunnel.
That was my Saturday afternoon folks!
What a crazy couple of weeks it’s been! I got word from my publisher that the manuscript for my new novel “The Dark Side of the Woods” has been accepted! YAY! I am so excited to see that story come to life. Of course, with the excitement comes a bit of anxiety as well. This book falls into the young/ new adult genre and I’m curious how it will be received.
Just following that news was a trip to Charleston, SC with some of my best friends. When I say best friends I mean lifetime, could blackmail me for eternity kind of friends. We drank rum on the beach and laughed until we cried, we shopped and dressed up for a fancy dinner at Husk, one of Charleston’s top restaurants. It was perfect and we are already making plans to go back.
I’m not usually a beach person. It had been ten years since the last time I went. I don’t get a lot of inspiration from the ocean but it quiets my mind. Sometimes that’s needed too.
And then yesterday, I had to lay my sweet tortoise shell cat, Munchkin, to rest. I’m not sure what happened to her but after she didn’t come home for dinner or breakfast, I knew. A walk in the woods confirmed my fears and I carried her home through the thorns and leaves to bury her in a corner of the backyard. I’m going to fix a sweet little garden for to rest in with a headstone, maybe plant some catnip and hang a birdhouse in the tree above her. Twelve years is a decent life for a cat but it’s never long enough.
Even though my heart is broken I have wonderful things to look forward to in the coming months and five rambunctious foster kittens who know that I need extra love right now as much as they do.
The three of us crazy ladies outside of Husk. I’m the one in the middle.
My sweet Munchkin.
The mountains are our mother, ever fixed and strict. She teaches us the hard lessons, the pain of birth and death. She makes us earn the roof over our head and the food in our belly through the sweat and blood of a hard days work. She teaches us the unfairness of life by the crop destroying heavy rains and drought.
She sings us to sleep with her gentle winds and distant calls of whipporwhills. She teaches us gratitude when we can sit in the porch rocker at the end of the day and simply be. She teaches us to persevere just as the tiny creeks flow and carve out deeper trenches through the ancient rock that is her foundation.
She gives us rich soil and woods full of herbs to heal what is broken. And when all hope is lost, she reminds you to turn to the Creator of it all.
We grow up saying we can’t wait to get out from under her watchful eye and her scolding switch. When we leave, we find nothing can bring us comfort like she gave. And so, we return. No longer taking for granted her little joys and lessons we once would have scoffed or overlooked.
Those who leave and never return were never hers to begin with. Not truly, for those of us who go back through all our generations know this where our blood started and this is where it will someday end. We will one day feed her with our blood and bones just as she has fed us.
She is our mountain mother who has watched over us with her bowed back and worn hands. She has sacrificed for us, she has let us tear the coal from her body and the trees from her dress so we could live. And as any mother, she loves us, she holds us tightly to her protective breast and when we leave, she lets us know we will always have a home back here with her.
Soft as lamb’s ear
Sharp as honey locust thorn
She prowls around at midnight
The time when witches are born
She gathers her nightshade in a purple, quilted bag
With her cat by her side, they all think she is mad
She smiles to herself and hums a soft tune
The owls come to greet her in the dark of the moon
She likes it this way
Being left alone and a bit feared
They find her when they need her
It’s been that way for years
When justice isn’t served or love goes unrequited
When the baby needs healed or the old man’s scared of dyin
They’ll venture to her with payment of choice
She’ll do what needs doing, without raising her voice
When the work is done
She’ll disappear just as quick
And they’ll say once again
Stay away from the witch
Some of us just know. We grew up believing in the monsters in the closet and the fairies in the garden like most children. The difference is as adults we just learned to stop talking about them, not believing.
We know the twinkle of lights that catch our eye is not seen by everyone or that the fluttering of a single leaf on a tree is where a fairy is playing. We know by the feel of the breeze if it is signaling a change of weather or if it’s bringing something in or blowing it out. We feel the change of seasons like electricity before the first snowflake falls or first crocus blooms. And try as we might to ignore the nagging whisper of “something’s not right here” it inevitably comes to pass with a much louder “told you so.”
Whether it’s the voice of God, the universe, or our own intuition, it’s there.
Two of my most vivid memories as a child were pretending I was in another realm with the fairies and dressing up as a fortune teller in my grandmother’s long colorful skirts and scarves with a globe from a light fixture as my crystal ball. I have no idea where either of those ideas came from at such a young age.
In the mystery and horror television shows I loved to watch I never wanted to be the main character, I always wanted to be the witch or little old woman who lived way back in the woods. I wanted that wisdom, to know what people needed before they ever even asked.
I’m not the little wise woman in the woods yet, but I’m working on it.
I feel sorry for those who can’t see the nearly invisible web of life around them. How everything is connected, and nothing is coincidence. How there is magic hovering in the air, in the earth, and inside of every living being, just waiting to be tapped into and used to help us through this confusing existence. You have to believe in the wonders of the world to see them, otherwise you will miss out on so many miracles.
I’ve been busy lately. Busy writing, busy selling books (or trying to), busy planning for Christmas and as always busy looking for inspiration.
A few weeks ago I woke up in need of inspiration. I’ve learned I get my best ideas when I get away from the house and get outside. I checked my phone to see it was going to be a beautiful, warm day, a true rarity for southwest Virginia in December. My husband agreed to my spontaneous Sunday adventure so off we went to Cumberland Gap.
Cumberland Gap is only about an hour drive from our house and if I had it my way I’d live right downtown. The little town is simply adorable and incredibly rich with history. We did some hiking along my favorite trail and although I had forgotten how much of the walk was uphill, it was exactly what I needed to refresh my desire to write. In fact there is one particular spot along the trail that gave me the idea for the book I’m currently working on.
There must be something special about that one area to inspire an entire book. I told my husband as I stood there I wasn’t sure if the story was coming all from my imagination or if secrets of the land were revealing themselves to me. Either way it’s a pretty awesome feeling. Ever since our walk I’ve been writing like crazy.
We were very lucky that day. The weather was so lovely, some animals came out to enjoy the sunshine as well. We walked right by some deer that were eating among the leaves and made a path around a tiny little snake getting warm on a sunny rock. I always consider animal sightings to be a wonderful thing.
Along the trail there are many other incredibly beautiful places; a little wooden bridge where you can stand over the water flowing down from the mountainside, an old salt cave, and the hand built iron furnace.
Once hiking has made you good and hungry you can walk into town and eat at Angelo’s, a fabulous little Italian restaurant with a charming, cozy atmosphere. It’s one of my favorite places to eat, ever.
We have to take inspiration where we can get it. There are a few places where I always know I can find my muse hanging out. If you have a place that makes you feel that way, appreciate it and go there whenever you can.
So I’m terrible at updating apparently. But since I’m going on day 6 of being snowed in I figured I could manage to write an update of some kind.
We have at least 18 to 20 inches of snow that has fallen since last night. It’s absolutely beautiful to see it blanketing the ground and hanging from the trees; but I would have enjoyed it more if it had made its appearance in December. I like being home, but I also need the option to get out of the house and go somewhere if the mood strikes. Being stuck on top of this mountain with no hope of getting off until some of this melts has nearly made me claustrophobic. Ok it has definitely made me claustrophobic. I never thought being snowed in for several days would really bother me that much but scenes from The Shining have rolled through my head a few times. haha
On the bright side I have gotten a fair amount of writing done on my new novel. I’m very excited about the story even though the task of starting another book is daunting. I try to just take it a thousand words at a time. I don’t make an outline or plot, I just start writing and see where the characters take me. This one is quite different from the last and I can’t wait to see where it leads. Meanwhile my twelve year old Russian Blue climbs my head and lays across my computer any time he sees me working. Cats believe in making things challenging and encourage procrastination…unless it’s feeding time of course.
The card chosen for this week is “It is time for me to…”
It is time for me to work on my new book and not feel guilty about neglecting the house for an hour or even a day.
It is time for me to drink tea and plan my garden for spring.
It is time for me to get up early and practice yoga every day so I can honor a promise I made to myself.
It is time for me to learn to play the fiddle I’ve had for two years.
“Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation?” Jane Austen
What is it time for you to do? Stop waiting and do it!
I love writing fiction. I am never at a loss of stories to tell (with my writing, not out loud!) and characters to explore. However when it comes to writing ideas for my blog I am at a total loss. I could ramble about the goings on in my life, story ideas, herbs and lifestyle things but there would be no real rhyme or reason to it and I just don’t feel like it would be that interesting. So I had an idea. Many years ago I bought a book and card set meant to be used for journaling. I did use it for a while and enjoyed the process. The set is called Book of Exploration by Charlene Geiss and Claudia Jessup. You randomly choose a card with a writing prompt, then read the corresponding book page before journaling. I decided once a week I will pull a card from the deck and that will be the subject of my blog. Here goes nothing.
The card I drew is Three Years from Now.
The things you do or don’t do today are the seeds you are planting for tomorrow.
First of all I would be pretty ok if not much changes in my life in three years. Life is never perfect but mine is good and I’m grateful. Nothing would make me happier than spending my time writing, decorating, tending to gardens all the around the house and doing fun things with my family. I have hopes my book/s will be successful but I don’t need to be rich and famous. I would like to travel and do a few book signings though, that would be pretty amazing. But three years ago I couldn’t have imagined I would be where I am, so it’s my hope three years from now life will be more incredible than I can picture.
I feel I’m on the right path and I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing. I want to continue to plant seeds of success and happiness because as far as I’m concerned I already have both.
“Life is a promise; fulfill it.” Mother Teresa