Thursday, September 7, 2006

Writer's "Blog"

Let's call it writer's BLOG instead of block. I haven't blogged much this summer probably because I've been writing and editing--working on the revisions for IN THE PANTRY and also on assignment. It is exciting to have the book come together and now it is in the hands of the graphic designer, to be returned by Halloween. I can't wait to see what they come up with for font, book "look" and layout. So far the editorial process has been far from daunting. On my initial rewrite in June I was concerned that the concept was not being understood (it is by nature a history/design book with lots of quotes and footnotes) but I have not had that feeling at all in the pre-layout revisions. The editors have been a pleasure to work with--even though we are separated by thousands of miles. E-mail has been a salvation for remote accessibility--and for firing text and images back and forth. [I think Emily Dickinson might have published had she had e-mail and a computer--she certainly would have been an even more prolific letter writer! I am convinced she also would have avoided the phone, as I tend to do.]

Once over this odd-uneven transition time into the autumn I plan to blog more than I have been. It is still a week until our two boys return to school. Their private school, while lovely in so many ways, believes in late returns. I'm all for the day after Labor Day: late August is too early and mid-September is too late. This is about the time we get ready to ship our children off to the nearest bidder! [Or perhaps it is the time of year to plan on booking a long weekend somewhere, just the two of us.]

So I relish the time ahead when I will have at least six hours a day uninterrupted. But with our youngest child going off to first grade and his first full day, the time will indeed be bittersweet. Our oldest has already begun her senior year.

For all of us it will be a year of transitions in many ways. I have always regarded September as the beginning of the new year: even when we no longer have children in school, September begins a more inward journey, a more contemplative time. Even the earth has begun to pause and retreat into itself. The days have shortened considerably since mid-summer, the air is cooler and the leaves are beginning to change their color. The crickets are in a full-throttle 24-hour chorus, singing their lives to their conclusion. [There is nothing more fun than to have crickets come into the house, still chirping, holding on to what little life they have left--we always leave them to sing and find their way around.] Now I have begun to think of woodpiles, and filling the pantry, and being more domestic. I could have easily been a squirrel--scurrying about, bringing nuts back to the nest, organizing them and preparing for a long winter.

And there is nothing like donning a flannel night gown or pajamas and slipping into cold sheets piled high with blankets and the wind whistling around the loose old windows of an ancient draughty farmhouse. I miss that time when we heated with wood and you could warm yourself comfortably by the fires downstairs but know that you'd have the best sleep of your life in the chillier bedrooms. Old New England farmhouses were always like that: the kitchen or keeping room was the center of the home, providing warmth and light for working or sitting. Now as a culture we are separated by computers and remote pockets of media throughout households--some children are even allowed computers and televisions in their bedrooms. Houses, like people, are meant to converse and are meant to breathe: to expand and contract, to have some life in them. Like the rhythm of a year, a good house has its own dynamic and routine. It is the keeper of the flame, of the family spirit. And it really does all begin at home. I would not have made a very good pioneer woman or nomadic wanderer. I do enjoy travel, but less so than I used to. Mostly I'd just rather be at home.