The River Runs

When I was twelve, I found a mink swinging from a snare. We were taught to be careful of traplines, but this one was unmarked. That mink, silver wire biting its neck, was the first sign that someone other than ourselves had traveled up the creek.

I’ve seen death, before and since, but something about that mink and its empty eyes, its head at an angle no head should sit, has stuck with me through the years.

I’ve also remembered that space behind the mink, the soft sound of running water, continuing impervious to the drama on its banks.

Impervious to either death or life, its course set and maintained long after my passage.

It’s been a strange year.

One of my favourite comfort writers once said that there were people who placidly moved through life, taking each day as they came. Then there were those who experienced all the highest heights of sensation that the world had to offer, but the price that they paid was that they also experienced all the lowest depths.

I wonder sometimes about the lives I don’t live, but I accept the valleys that I might scale the mountains.

It’s certainly been a year with plenty of both.

I think sometimes that it is easy, in both life and writing, to focus on one or the other – the dead-eyed mink or the impervious cheer of the running water.

But as I think of the most powerful moments of my life, it is the intersection of the immovable and the transient that have held me, have shaped my own life and thoughts.

I followed the stream bank today, back past the mountain shadow and deep into the canyon.

There were no bloody footprints, no signs of a desperate, stilled struggle.

Even in their absence, I know that there are always snares, unexpected.

I stood for a long time on the bank and watched the water move.

I am still standing.

The river runs.

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It has been a year worth remembering. I hope that it has passed well for you.


If you would like to see more of my writing, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor is available here.

 

The Middle of Nowhere

I grew up in quiet places.

While I have lived in cities and towns and small basement apartments with coaster-sized spiders, I am most comfortable and most happy where I can hear myself think.

There is something that sparks the current of creative electricity when I am miles from other voices, other stresses.

The smell of rotting wood, the soft buzz of small insects and muted bird calls, the press and scratch of deep moss against my ankles and my hands-

My head is clearest here.

In these spaces, I can slow down the thousand miles my brain travels every minute.

I can pull out the individual strands of colour and thought, rearrange them into something new and strange.

I am inspired by the sensation of the sun as a tangible hand stretching through the trees.

I am inspired by the opposite of the sound of a slamming door and footsteps retreating down the stairs into the night.

IMG_9169There is a unity in silence, a knowledge in an endless sky

This is a week about inspirations, both obvious and otherwise.


For the thoughts inspired by the silence, you can read my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

 

Scheherazade

In another lifetime, I was meant to become a classical musician.

Life happened, in the way that it often does, and my path swerved sharply from that course.

I have never lost that bone-deep love for music.

In my own writing, the rhythm and melody lines are more obvious in my poetry, but make no mistake, my stories owe as much to Allegretto and Andante as they do to adjectives and apostrophes.

Because of the way my head processes sensory information, I’ve always had a more intense reaction to music than other people. It has always been mildly embarrassing to be frozen in place by a melody line or shivering because of the intensity and beauty of a well-built chorus.

It is why, if I am honest with myself, there are more pieces of music that have profoundly affected my life than any other type of creative work.

The first time I heard Scheherazade, I was playing it.

I was in the middle of a group of well-trained, but still inexperienced musicians trying to force their way through a rich, complex interplay of parts.

And I felt like I’d been struck by lightning.

I’d always felt some kinship with Scheherazade the character, her of a thousand stories with an overwhelming force driving her to tell them.

But that melody line…

It felt like someone had reached into my chest and pulled out my heart to display to the world.

I have always carried a trace of that song in the back of my head while I am writing.

I stand naked when I write, whether it is my tale or someone else’s.

All the best and worst parts of myself are spread through the voices I create and the melodies of plot and words.

I can only hope that the song I share carries its notes somewhere in the back of the brain, the bottom of the heart.

IMG_0461Beauty is the song that reaches for the sun beyond the clouds

This is a week about inspirations, both obvious and otherwise.


For the story that sings its own strange song, you can read my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

 

 

The Darling Buds- Columbine

Many things changed that year.

By the time I was strong enough to follow the mountain creeks, it was nearly autumn.

By then, I had spent a long time thinking and I was sick of my head and the endless replays of no-longer possibilities.

So I walked.

I was  a long time walking, longer I think than my memory now glosses over.

The small meadow formed where the trees had been downed by the winter storms was a welcome surprise.

The greater trees had fallen, but the stubborn columbine had risen above their carcasses.

I spent some time watching the light play over their blooms before I turned and left.

Despite their delicacy, their small windows of opportunity, the columbine never ceased to reach for the unattainable sun.

Neither have I.

IMG_0451Columbine- Resolved to Win

This week of the Darling Buds brought to you by nostalgia, Victorian flower meanings, and the letter “Y.” As in, “No, there’s no real reason ‘Y’.”


Resolution, sun, and determined plants are also found in my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The Darling Buds- Pansy

My grandmother loved spring.

She loved all times of the year and all types of weather, but there was a special energy that she reserved for the change from sleep to wakefulness in the world around us.

As a small child, she would take me out in her garden and point out the different plants and flowers, each with their own name and story.

Pansies were a particular favourite.

She would point out their adorably grumpy faces, glaring up at us with such earnestness that it was impossible not to laugh.

When I couldn’t see what she was talking about, she would take my fingers and use them to trace the shapes of our shared imagination-

Of our shared love.

Today is her memorial.

I have cried enough in her honour.

Today, I want to celebrate her boundless joy and generosity.

I want to remember wrinkled hands over small smooth ones, guiding me to trace the love present in the smallest petals.

IMG_2454Pansy- Merriment

This week of the Darling Buds brought to you by nostalgia, Victorian flower meanings, and the letter “Y.” As in, “No, there’s no real reason ‘Y’.”


If you would like to see more joy in action, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The Darling Buds- Lupin

We never climbed the mountains after mid-September.

August was pushing the length of time we could avoid the snowfall and the uncertain weather of the alpine.

September carried a guaranteed edge of danger.

To make those late hikes carried an element of risk-

And an explosion of colour.

The time to grow and live in the upper meadows is short and unpredictable.

Everything grasps at the sun as it appears, desperately reaching for light to blossom and seed.

The weeks before snowfall are a dizzying carnival of colour.

I didn’t pick them, but I’d often sit down there, amongst the lupin and the heather, near the alpine fireweed buzzing with the insects feeding before their approaching ends.

It was easy enough to imagine that I was in another world entirely.

There was a heavy, alien intensity that became muted the further I traveled down the slope.

There is something magical about short, powerful lives.

About the weight of dreams, quickly and intensely fulfilled.

IMG_0478Lupin- Imagination

This week of the Darling Buds brought to you by nostalgia, Victorian flower meanings, and the letter “Y.” As in, “No, there’s no real reason ‘Y’.”


If you would like to see more imagination-inspiring colour, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The Darling Buds- Narcissus

It took me years to realize that narcissus had no real scent.

I never grew it by itself – it was always joined with nasturtiums or hyacinths or deep-throated koolaid irises.

The heavy florals rose above it so strongly that I was always afraid to pick it.

I was scared that the house would never recover from the bouquet.

If I am honest, it intimidated me.

Its delicate lines were so foreign to the fuller flowers around it.

I was always afraid to touch it for fear that it would crumble under my fingers.

Years and miles later, when my nose had been burned out on exhaust fumes and oil, on a city soaked in urine and vomit, I found a small mound of narcissus growing near my apartment.

The scents I had thought it held were only a faint memory, but I buried my face in those flowers as if they were a mask.

And smelled nothing.

I stayed there, grateful that no one else had seen me.

I had forgotten what it was like to not have my breath burn in my throat.

When I rose, I stared at them, haphazardly placed between a dumpster and a walkway.

I left and did not return.

IMG_0467Narcissus- Stay as sweet as you are

This week of the Darling Buds brought to you by nostalgia, Victorian flower meanings, and the letter “Y.” As in, “No, there’s no real reason ‘Y’.”


If you would like to see more worlds, scented and unscented, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

The Darling Buds- Rhododendron

The winter I nearly died, I dreamed of my childhood garden.

As I lay there, my body burning and aching, I filled my head with flowers.

I was a thousand miles and eight years removed, but I could still feel the petals beneath my fingers as I sat beside them.

For my tenth birthday, I was gifted a rhododendron to grow with me.

Every spring I waited for its blossoms as a true sign that the worst had passed, that the gentler days had come.

I dreamed of it often that terrible winter, pale pink blossoms growing and decaying behind my eyes.

I survived the winter and returned in the spring, weakened but alive.

The rhododendron was nearly dead.

It was a terrible frost, I was told. Between the heavy snow and the freezing, it was a wonder that any of it survived.

I watched it, heart in my throat, as the true spring arrived.

The rhododendron managed three bundles of flowers, so much smaller and more fragile than the other blossoms, but I have never forgotten their beauty.

It lives still.

Never as healthy as those around it, but every ounce of strength forced into flowers as pale and beautiful as the time between one breath and the next.

We cannot warn ourselves of danger because the risk is in living itself.

Instead we can celebrate each frost, each breath-

Each bold flower opening to the sun.

IMG_0429Rhododendron: A warning of danger

The Darling Buds will be my week of flowers. There’s no extra meaning to that. I just wanted to write about flowers.


If you would like to see more exploration of danger, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.