Writers spend so much time behind their keyboard that sometimes it can feel like we’ve crawled into our own little world, separated from the rest of the planet. That’s why now and then it’s important to take a break. Daily, if possible. Breathe in fresh air. Clear the mind. Kick your endorphins into high gear. S.K. Nichols wrote a post recently entitled Detoxing The Brain And Opening Up New Worlds and Robin Rivera from Write On, Sisters! wrote a post entitled 5 Life Hacks For Writers, about writers being at risk for health issues because of always being seated. Both posts are superb. If you get a chance I think you’ll enjoy them too.
When the weather cleared — it was a long winter in New Hampshire — I started taking walks. And what I discovered was incredibly freeing. Instead of describing it to you, I thought I’d take you with me.
Come take a walk on the
rural wild side…
The first thing you have to understand about this area is it seems the entire town is on the side of a cliff. What this translates to is you are either walking up a hill or walking down. Rarely do you get a straightaway. When you do it’s like a ray of sunshine on a cold winter day.
I love this area. Truth be told I’m a country girl at heart. Even when I lived in the city — traffic, beeping horns, commuter trains — I dreamed of country living. For fifteen years we lived on the coast surrounded by nature and sandy shorelines. Pretty surroundings. Still, I longed for mountains and lakes, a quieter more peaceful existence. Three years ago we finally made our dream a reality.
So now, I walk…
Let my mind wander. My imagination reaches through branches, around rocks and fallen trees, over pine needles and across streams. There’s no limit to where I can go.
Imagine black bears coddling their cubs, nestled in the trees, Momma teaching her young to forage for food, pilfer garbage cans and bird feeders, how to stay concealed from hunters, or defend themselves for when she won’t be there to rescue them.
Is she hiding in those trees, snuggled with her infants in her arms, a slow tremble starting in her chest, eagle-eyes on a nearby intruder?
Shuffling leaves. Crackling sticks. A light breeze whisks through a canopy of oak, birch and maple trees shielding the forest floor from sunlight.
Who lived in that shack that’s now abandoned in the middle of nowhere? Was he a mighty woodsman, a leper afraid of humiliation from the townsfolk? Or, was he a writer using this cabin as a retreat? His escape that allowed his imagination to drift to far away lands, where dreams always come true or where reality takes other forms. Did he have a wife and kids at home who were waiting patiently for him to finish his novel?
These are some of the questions I ponder as…
Can you hear children laughing? Their spirit very much alive as they play hide and seek in the forest. An older brother left in charge of his baby sister. Five years old, I’m guessing, with a curious innocence and a smile that could illuminate a room during a power outage. She likes to throw a handful of leaves in the air and run underneath, screaming as though the crisp edges might sting if they touch her unscathed flesh.
The heavens open up and grant this wondrous place light. Maybe an angel hovers nearby to watch over the animals. She has long, flowing, golden locks and porcelain skin like that of a china doll. Her voice is barely audible to human ears, a little more than a whisper in the wind. But if you listen closely you just might hear her heart sing.
Who, or what, lives up there, I wonder. A troll in a mushroom-shaped cavern? Perhaps. He waits patiently for wanderers to stumble across his domain. As they approach he cackles to himself, palms rubbing together, an evil little smirk arching his lips. “I’ll get you my pretty. And you’re little dog, too.” His favorite lines from the Wizard of Oz.
Then one day the unthinkable happens. A beautiful troll happens upon his little abode and asks for directions. Mr. Troll tries to resist her charm, his heart blackened from years of bitter loneliness. But her warm heart fills him with something he’s never experienced before… love.
Not wanting to intrude on their courtship…
You may think this is an oddity. It’s not. So,
The stream looks refreshing about now, snaking around rocks and under packed-down winter leaves. I wonder how many animals have stopped to rest here? Moose, deer, bear, coyote, wolf, fisher cat, bobcat — yes, we have bobcat. After the mighty hunters enjoy feasting on their prey they stop, glance in all directions and lean down for a cool drink.
A gunshot rings out.
False alarm. Just some good ol’ boys shooting at cans. Pickup trucks, tailgates down. Country music blares from speakers as their women chew on straw and strum the banjo. This is sounding more like a scene from the Deer Hunter.
Time to make a quick exit.
A little faster now. I can see my road up ahead on the left. But first, I need to stop and say hello to my new friends. This is Big Red. He’s the main squeeze on campus, popular with the ladies.
Up the side of the mountain where I live. Across my yard, just showing signs of spring. Yearlings and flower sprouts peek through the earth and reach for a tangerine sun. Soon colorful blossoms will grow from their arms — glorious scents of lavender, rose and cherry will waft in the warm summer air. Until then,
Thanks for coming with me today. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to work. Playtime over… for today.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with this: do yourself a favor and make time for the little things in life. This crazy, fabulous, hard business of ours can crush you if you don’t take the time to enjoy life. So, go for a walk. Get out from behind that desk and experience the things we write about. Let your spirit soar — your creativity run wild. Then… get back to work. There’s always more to learn.