Of Sand and Snow

I got lost in a desert once.

We’d not brought a compass and the shifting dunes were indistinct, impossible to memorize or understand.

We found an edge, a pattern of cacti and succulents, and traced our way back to somewhere stable.

As I reached the bus, I thought of snow.

They don’t find all the bodies up North.

With the shifting snow blinding vision and sense

You can go in circles, never more than a half-mile from the road,

Or you can veer into impossible distance.

Both are effective burials.

When the landscape changes beneath your feet,

Before your limited vision,

Direction and time become meaningless distractions.

It is the stories we tell ourselves that save us-

Silly songs about the trees we pass, the water we cross-

The pattern of dying plants at the edge of infinity.

IMG_1500The ghosts at the edges of death make great stories and memories

Memories and stories make interesting and useful companions.


For more intertwining moments of memory and story, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here. Its sequel, With Honor Intact, can be found here.

Advertisements

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.

IMG_1421

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.

 

A Means of Measure

I’m going to tell you a secret.

We do not count our lives in days or years.

Oh, we mark days in calendars and agendas, plot pathways to tomorrow and next week.

But in our memories…

Our lives are measured from the moments that have meaning, that shape us into the people we become.

Our memories are more honest than our day-to-day planning. They strip away the dull and measured, leaving only punctuations of pain or joy that the rest of our lives circle, circumpolar.

It has been this many years since the death of a loved one, this many days since leaving a home or falling in love or birthing a child.

We move, not from day to week to year, but from bright interruption to bright interruption, the rest of the gray falling by the wayside.

Our lives are good stories, our minds keenly excising all but what is most necessary to strip us to our cores.

Tell me this story: of a series of stars, separated not by space or time, but the breath between the telling.

IMG_1001A story exists to find the colours and draw them together

Our minds are great story-tellers. It is our fingers and voices that need some extra help.


I chase my own version of colours within my writing. If you would like to see my stories, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here.

The Taste of Ink and Honey

We were thoughtful children, mainly.

When we staggered off under the weight of our thirty handpicked books-

the first time, we heard the librarians decide on the spot what the book limit was for children

-we washed our hands before we touched the pages.

(Although not until after my brother made his butter/peanut butter/honey/butter/peanut butter/honey sandwiches)

(And touched everything that wasn’t a book)

(We were careful with books)

We’d find some empty space somewhere and sprawl out, our books laid carefully around us.

We’d lick our fingers sometimes to make stubborn pages turn.

No matter how much we’d washed ahead of time, our fingers would always taste slightly of honey.

Of ink and honey.

There is a great mourning of the slow passage of paper books as we start to read more and more on our screens.

I disagree with this sadness.

As much as I can close my eyes and taste the stories of my childhood, I am eager, excited to see children and adults embrace reading in a way I could only have dreamed of as a small child with a limit of thirty books.

The package that carries the story is only a small part of that gateway to our imagination.

I dream of a day when those who could never have had the access that I did as a child are able to read all of the stories that opened the gateway to my imagination.

I dream of opportunities to share, to re-mix, to be parts of vital story-telling communities that grow with combined strength and enthusiasm.

I dream of ink and honey.

I dream of a thousand other pathways to the stories that I hear when I close my eyes.

IMG_9159There is still so much to explore and share, an unending vista in front of us

Although I am not American, I’d like to wish you a Happy National Book Lovers Day. May your pages be filled with the dreams of your choosing.


I look forward to my own stories being shared in ways I could never have imagined. If you’d like to see the beginning of my series, my fantasy novel,  The Guests of Honor, is available here.

Fields of Gold

The fallow fields are to the south

This time of year

The fields closest to the farm

And farthest from the hills

When the farms are gone

The fields stay for awhile

Before the pine and aspen grow

I walk there sometimes

Those fields left to yarrow

And dandelions

All the more beautiful

For the briefness of their fierce embrace

Of colour

Of living

IMG_2255These are the fields I remember, long after they have passed

I think a lot about the changing face of the land around me. It is always beautiful.


If you’d like to see some more colour, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here.

 

The Darling Buds- Lilacs

They taste like my grandmother.

If I close my eyes, I am five again, hiding under the bushes while my cousins race past, oblivious.

It was a good hiding place.

It is hard to pull apart the smells now, though.

When I smell lilacs, I smell the heavy richness of spice.

I also smell the ghost scent, decay and dirt and death, hiding underneath the floral.

For all that our descriptions are visual, we remember far more by scent than we do by scene.

I don’t see lilacs.

I taste them.

I remember years of frozen moments that have nothing to do with flowers.

IMG_0437Lilac: Youthful Innocence

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 purple writing, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

Afterimage

There were houses once.

Sometimes you find them when you walk through the thick tangle of second-growth.

A foundation pit, or for the older ones, the base of a frame, tied together by moss.

When people write about the post-apocalypse, I wonder if they have ever wandered through the places where the human world has passed.

I startled a garter snake once.

The way he fled through the shattered window frame reminded me of a maggot exiting an eye socket.

In the world where all life balances on the edge of a razor-

We encroach.

We recede.

Our passing marked only by a claim marker, half-felled by snow.

By the words to describe a fire hydrant-

Balanced on the fine border of nowhere.

oldhydrant1A memory and a warning


If you want to travel with me to unabandoned places, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

Passage and Renewal

As the snow melts, the cannibals become visible.

They sit, deceptively fragile, on the surfaces of their forefathers, slowly molding themselves to the greater bodies of times long past.

I can spend hours staring at rotting stumps.

I love watching those tiny saplings, seeded from the remaining trees, struggle to gain purchase on their dead kin.

This is no horror story.

This is a sharing, a passage of life and strength from the old to the new.

My words transit on the page, drawing from stories and memories, things passed and precious.

Neither I nor the saplings can become exactly as the great ones who stood before us.

But we can plant our roots, firmly, clearly in the strength of the past.

Our arms reaching upwards to a new and unknown space.

IMG_5481The emerging future


In between staring at stumps and saplings, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

An Empty House

You can see them everywhere, in certain towns and cities.

The houses that were caught when mortgages failed and never resold.

The houses that were owned and unused, home to dust and fires.

The houses that were abandoned, when the land became too much, and were slowly reclaimed by the forest around them.

There is something poignant and frightening about an empty house.

In the ones that are still whole, there is a feeling of a life paused, held still on a caught breath.

Of a dream waiting and fading, underneath the unwavering march of years.

I write these houses into my stories.

They are not always houses.

But the stories we tell are only corners of much larger, breathing worlds.

Their shells visible in passing.

Their vitality flashing and slowly decaying in the corner of my words.

Sometimes I turn to them directly, fascinated by their passage.

There is power in the forgotten.

There is power in a moss-covered doorstep, leading nowhere.

IMG_0352A pathway to nowhere


In addition to writing blog posts with empty houses, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

What We Carry, What We Leave Behind

When I moved from the city, I left my umbrella with the night manager.

He called out as I ran after my taxi, “But won’t it rain there?”

It has rained.

I have never used an umbrella since I left that apartment.

Not all the things we take with us are physical.

Often our characters, in life and fiction, start their stories with the big move or the radical event that forever changes everything about them.

I have always wondered at those changes.

The past is not as easy to discard as an umbrella.

We leave pieces of ourselves with every person, every place that we have traveled.

We carry always the sound of rain against a window in winter.

IMG_0637A sound and a morning carried