When living in Cleveland, one should develop a hearty measure of acceptance for cold winters. Alas, I have not. This is why I squeeze each fall completely dry before letting its crackling husk shoosh away on the Erie winds. Recently, Patrick and I took the kayak out one last time on the open water.
My mom and I journeyed to Hocking Hills, which, if you can get to Southern Ohio, is a must fall activity.
We stayed in a thoroughly charming cabin called The Poet’s Tree. It was full of warm pine and inspiring poetic works and perched on the edge of a wooded ravine.
I confess I wrote not one word of poetry there, but read a lot and definitely brought home some inspiration. I took along Ruth Stone’s Second Hand Coat, among others, and found so much resonance there with her poems set in rural locales. This from “Communion”:
The sky, vague blue behind a gauzy cumulus;/Pale fall sunlight glazes the barn shingles. /Now a chorus of bulls forcing music out of their bodies,/ Begins and begins in terrible earnestness./And the birds, undulating and rising, circle/And scatter over the fall ploughed strips./What they are saying is out of their separateness./This is the way it is. This is the way it is.
I also read with my Take Nine soul sisters at the wonderful Mac’s Backs Bookstore in Cleveland Heights. Because we didn’t have a planned program, we dropped our names into a trick-or-treat bag and asked attendees to pull them one by one to determine who would read next. I got to play emcee and felt a bit like PRI’s Michael Feldman as I made the rounds—we even had an audience member all the way from Olympia, Washington (and no, she didn’t come all that way just for our reading).
I have always been a sucker for picking things out of a bag. The fun of feeling around and pulling out something unexpected: “And the winner is…” It makes for a great writing exercise, too. Collect words that appeal to you—simple, concrete nouns and interesting verbs work best—and place them together in a bag or small container. When you need a jump-start for your writing, pull a few words and see where they take you. The more disparate, the better—in a workshop I facilitated recently, someone pulled blink, hyacinth, liver, wander and chime from my word-box.
Maybe these are already working on you right now.
Happy deep autumn, happy writing, whatever your weather.