this post has baby birds in it

This summer is shaping itself into a natural wonder! We’re getting daily visits from Groundhog Jones, the local groundhog, which glues my kids to the window like some kind of magic tablet. A slate junco (it’s a little grey bird) made a nest in our shed and we’ve been on tenterhooks waiting for the eggs to hatch – which they finally have! I’m not sure who’s more excited at this point, their mom, my daughters, or me.

there will definitely be baby birds in a short story soon…

There’s also been a few adventures with snakes. Not everyone likes snakes so I hesitate to post pictures, but let’s just say, 15 km into a drive is not the time you expect a garter snake to pop their head up from the little wiper well on the far side of the windshield. The wee snake looked at me like “Are we there yet?” Did I teach the girls a naughty word when that happened? Yes. Yes, I did. Fortunately we were on a lonely road, so I was able to stop and usher the snake into a more snake-appropriate situation.

This, on top of biking, gardening, swimming and generally making the best of summer before my youngest starts kindergarten, should be killing my wordcount, but somehow I’ve been managing to get up a few hours before the kids to get some writing in. I’m fairly useless until the coffee kicks in so I’m not as efficient with that quiet time as I’d like, but I’ve been consistently writing over a thousand words a day. Most of that has been short fiction for various anthologies opening this summer (including this one and that one), but this past week I’ve been plotting a cozy fantasy trilogy (gulp!).

I’ve also set a deadline of the end of September to get a newsletter off the ground. That will give me a few weeks of quiet time to figure out the technical mechanics, pin down how I want it to be, and polish my reader magnet, which IS written… the only thing keeping me from feeling completely in over my head with this project.

I think a newsletter is a terrifying beast for introverts like me – listen, I will talk to you about anything except myself. Take this blog, which was a showcase for short fiction openings for the longest time. But a friend pointed out that I can also talk about the things in my life which inspire me – like weird photography, nature (see the start of this post), and the amazing things I’ve been reading (speaking of which, I loved this short story in Lightspeed – you should absolutely check it out). I also highly recommend Jarod K Anderson’s second book of poetry, Love Notes From the Hollow Tree.

adventures in the gorge

Summers here are glorious and humid, creating a vortex of increasingly unbearable heat. Write in the mornings when it’s cool, then escape. Grab the kids and follow the water.

We’ve been spending our summer weekends exploring and hunting stories. Down the mountain from our home lies a deep, protected gorge with a creek running through it. The trees are old, the creek is cold, and the wilderness is criss-crossed with aged dirt roads.

The gorge has a long history of logging, farming, and we’ve heard rumors of abandoned villages. We haven’t come across those yet, but we did find this structure.

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It might have been a section of an old boiler (based on surrounding structures) or a possibly a brick oven. I prefer to think of it as an abandoned goblin lair, myself.

There are stories hiding everywhere in these woods!

In another section of the gorge, we came across the ruins of a castle. Okay, okay, not a castle, but a stone wall once built to border a farm long since invaded by forest. I have long dreamt of finding the ruins of a castle in the woods. Coming this close was a thrill.

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Following a dirt road at the bottom of the gorge with some vague directions from Google maps, we fjorded the creek past a caved-in bridge and hiked along a quad trail to a covered bridge. Covered bridges are fairly common in our area, but we don’t often find them this far into the wilderness. Perhaps it was the missing bridge along the road to it which made it feel like a secret place.

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There were three well-worn camp sites near the covered bride, and an excellent swimming spot for the kids beneath the bridge. It’s fun to hunt for trolls beneath the bridge and look up at the construction to see how they were built way back when.

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Ever since I was a child I’ve wanted to build a fort in the rafters of a covered bridge, tucked up from the road and sheltered just enough. This bridge, nestled into the woods with the mountains towering on either side, brought that urge back with renewed vigor.

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Are you taking breaks from your writing to have an adventure or two this summer?

 

thoughts of the weeping willow

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She liked to relax in the summer, branches slouched down, fingers of leaves catching the breeze and wafting to and fro. Her inspiration came from dusty cobwebs, discarded plastic bags, and the minnows which swam in the lake.

One day she noticed the tadpoles had all grown, the nights felt cooler, and the wildflowers started going to seed. She sighed, thinking autumn such a lot of work, winter too blustery, and spring too busy what with all the budding and the leafing out. She wished she could skip through them all and start with the first day of summer again.