Last night, while cleaning out some space upstairs, I picked up A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. Hypnosis ensued, and I found myself sitting at the kitchen table way past my bedtime reading page after page. She is one of a handful of writers who inadvertently created what I consider a masterpiece. If you have not read this book, and have a profound love of nature, then you are doing yourself a great disservice.
I pulled myself away after fifty or so pages. It was well after one in the morning and I am the rooster in my house who is expected to get the kids up for school at six; a task that is encumbered with difficulty as it is without compounding it with little rest. So, I shut the house down. Starting with locking the back door and turning off the kitchen light, I moved soft and catlike through the upstairs creating darkness behind me as I traveled past the kids and into our bedroom. It was there, as I undressed while pondering the book I had laid down, that I saw my copy of Trout Bum by John Gierach resting on my night stand.
Settling in under the covers, warmed by my Jill who had been there for hours, I picked up Trout Bum and just opened it and started reading. This is another one of those books that no matter where you open it you are going to find good writing. Two in the morning and I put it down to try and settle into my rest.
As I lay there in the dark, Jill breathing deep and slow beside me, I thought of these two writers. Not of them as individuals, nor of their particular subject matter, but of them as writers. What transpires within the mind to get works like these flowing? I suppose if questioned on this, both would give a nonchalant answer, that in itself would create more questions. And also, how can I ever possibly hope to reach such a lofty level of excellence?
Just like hiking in to some remote trout stream or lofty vista within the Smokies...you start climbing. You imagine as you travel about what the end of the journey will be, but each time is different in its own way. Moments appear and disappear never to be repeated. Therein is the joy of the journey and the subtext of everything that makes it to the page.
Sitting here now, I am mulling over a myriad of ideas, making plans, outlining in my mind. Soon I will be well enough to engage in the glory of nature, do some fishing, find my muse, and write. Perhaps one of these journeys will hold the key to that magical story that will propel me to the next mountain top. Perhaps.
|Photo by jermz|