Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lady's Slipper

Up the driveway, around the curve, down a hill, past the barking Dalmatians, through shadow and shade to the brilliant sun. We step carefully, for the road is full of fuzzy caterpillars. Half a mile in, we come to the turn-off, the path to the river. Grassy, muddy, mossy, we're in the tunnel of the trees where all is silent and holy. Past the pond, the full-sun pond with cattails and croaking frogs. We come to the deck built over the wetlands, then we're in the trees.

Grass gives way to moss-covered roots, forget-me-nots, star flowers, parchment berries, wild lily of the valley. Oaks, maples, pines above. At our sides, ferns whisper, poison ivy tangles with blueberry bushes.

"Look! There's a lady's slipper!" We count them on the way to the river. Two, three, four.

We are underwater, we are in a dungeon, we are in a cathedral. We sing at the top of our lungs and the sound echoes. We would dance, but the roots and stones stop us, caution us to slow down, to see what accompanies us on our walk. We sniff the air, so sweet and full.

And then. Oh, then. Wall of trees hiding, hiding, hiding, but we know. Oh, yes, we know. There's no secret here. Water rushing, water gurgling, shining sun pressing down. A flash of gossamer light: fly-fisherman in the middle of the river, looping, cajoling, caressing, a tempter of what swims below.

The path continues, fallen pine needles, trodden, trodden, tread. Tread lightly, says the lady's slipper by the river's bank. And when the wind picks up, when the fisherman wades ashore, when the explorers have explored, we step lightly back through the brown and the green, out from the cathedral, out from the dungeon, back to the brightness of the day beyond.

But there--
By the side of the road
Between those two trees
Five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve.
An even dozen.
Pink lady's slippers dancing dainty, bobbing on their stems.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Good Book

It's cold here. And wet. Very wet. The perfect sort of evening to curl under a blanket with a good book. So here are my latest recommendations:

1. The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams and not just because Carol is a friend. The writing is brilliant; the story is disturbing. The book will leave you aching.

2. The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages. Again, beautifully written. If you're in the mood for a WWII-era historical novel about two unusual girls, this might fit the bill.

As for me, I've got Little Brother by Cory Doctorow up, then I'm going backwards in time: Owl in Love (which is not really that old), Tom's Midnight Garden, Peter Pan, and Five Children and It.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


There is something to a physical memory. Yes, the mind remembers things: the Jabberwocky ("'Twas brillig and the slithy toves...", my college phone number (377-PUKE), the lyrics to "Jingle Bells" in Latin, the radius of a circle. But after years and years and years of dance training, practice, hammering away at technique, I can verify that the body remembers things too, all on its own. Though I'm about twenty years past my last dance class at the studio, my body remembers these things without me even thinking about them.

I can say this because in a burst of energy, I took a cardio-dance-fusion class on Saturday. As soon as the teacher began calling out stretches, it became hard to remember that I'm really not nineteen anymore, that those days are long gone. Three days later, and I can now walk up and down the stairs, mostly free from pain. Ahem. Mostly.

Those long hours in the dance studio are apparently part of my DNA, fused into me, the way a branch is grafted into a tree. You can take Ginger out of the dance studio, but you can't take the dance studio out of Ginger.

I think of these things, because life is about to change again. After two years of monthly packet deadlines, punctuated by ten-day writing residencies, I am about to graduate. Again. And while I certainly haven't yet worked my 10,000 hours advocated by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers: The Story of Success, I can only hope that the hours I have spent in training, practicing, hammering away at a different kind of technique, has culminated in a new me--that the neurons in my mind have shifted a bit to welcome something new, so that the words I dance with now are not only an integral part of me, but that they are something greater than me, something more than just words.

And, maybe, just maybe writing won't be quite as painful as dancing has become.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Did I Write That?

See below.

Really, did I write that?

Could *not* have had a more different experience today. Completely hit a wall. Chapter four awaits me.

And....nothing. All day. Kept my rear in my chair, but nothing. Nada. Niente.


Capricious employment, this writing thing. Maybe it's time to pull out my tap shoes. Some street corner somewhere awaits me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Revision, Re-Vision

In my fourth packet of the semester, I have been requested to revise the first six chapters of Spectrum. So I toil away. Sometimes revision is so tedious, and other times, revision becomes re-vision, where the blinders come off and I can see so clearly what's at fault, what's missing, and what's superfluous.

Today the revision has been re-vision.

I've been reading my childhood favorites: Bridge to Terabithia, A Wrinkle in Time, and Tuck Everlasting. Maybe that's what has been giving me clearer vision. Nothing like returning to your childhood self in order to see what's what.