Alright, alright, alright–good to be back after a nice Thanksgiving with family. We plunged onto the highways after an overnight ice storm, which was pretty much a relief compared to the furious onslaught of snow, wind, and ice the meteorologists predicted. We kept it slow, had a few iffy spots crossing the ridges (Pennsylvania has a series of high ridges along the spine of the Appalachians, oriented north to south, that a traveler must cross to go east or west–they don’t look like much if you’re accustomed to the Rockies, or the higher segments of the Cascades, but one takes them less than seriously at his or her own peril). I have to admit that while I was clutching the steering wheel a little more tightly than usual, I was also enjoying the snow and ice–very seasonal, it got me in the mood. I’m unabashedly in love with the landscape I live in, and a grey day of wind and foul weather is just one of its moods.
Turkey, mashed potatoes, the best stuffing I’ve ever eaten, cranberry sauce, and all that good stuff. Seven pies on the table, quarts of ice cream, and growlers full of some fairly mind-blowing microbrew from my cousin Jarrod, a beer genius who, after several years apprenticing with a prominent Pennsylvania brewer has been hired as a brewmaster for an ambitious mid-western brewpub–good for him, and good for us. We get to drink some sublime liquid bread, and he gets to support his family doing something that he utterly and passionately loves. How awesome is that? How rare? I’ll be writing about him again soon enough–to keep you posted, to tell you where you can sample his work.
I took most of the past week off from this blog while we were away, and also while I finished my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo–learned a few things along the way, too. First, it is possible to sustain that pace for the better part of four weeks (I was actually done on the 26th)–something like 1800-1900 words/day. Second, while doing so, one can expect to pump out some utterly horrific prose. I got the words down–and will need about 20-30,000 to wrap things up–but the manuscript is a mess. Still: I wrote 52,000 words in 26 days plus all the stuff I did here. I even managed a couple of poems. So I pretty much rocked.
Got the Christmas lights on the house today, too. The girls and I got everything bright and shiny in about 40 minutes–amazing what you can do in a light coat, without wearing gloves, at 23 degrees F. We were motivated. No pix yet, but here’s a stylized shot of our hundred-year old homestead from several years ago. We’ve since gone to LED lights, eliminating that $35 spanking the electric company used to deliver each December, when we were using the giant, old-fashioned C-9’s. Highly recommend the LED’s.
So, that’s where I’ve been. How about you?
Clomping down the stairs,
No strength to glance back again
Steel storm door hissing closed
Lug-soled boots bang torden!
On the dry pine treads.
Yank on a soft scarf, spun around,
Teeth crack against teeth
Tongues hungry tentacles,
Roots seeking soil,
It’s snowing hard outside, blowing
Sideways, windows clatter
Your thigh insisting between mine,
Cold hands beneath your sweater
Growl when you flinch and shriek
thumbs forward, Fingers pressed
into the soft of your back
clench your hips,
*this is the final excerpt from what I’ve called the “big truck” series–an abandoned, unfinished road trip novel I lost interest in 17 years ago and recently revisited. I added it partially in response to posts by our friends over at the excellent Great Plains Trail blog–where they’re building something awesome. The Great Plains are remarkable, and filled with beauty and wonder both magnificent and subtle, but all that open land always strikes me as a little spooky, a sentiment that carried over into the following passage
From the hive he drove straight on, stopping three hundred miles in, when the fuel tank approached one quarter. Standing tight-shouldered and shivering at a self-service pump, feeling the fuel surge through the hose and into the truck, a tangible exchange of power, perched on the edge of unending Iowa, he looked out on hard gray fields frosted soil and stubble pierced here and there with copses of trees clustered about tiny empires of tidy framed houses, barns, and outbuildings: feudal kingdoms of maize, wheat, and soy. He wondered what sort of paradise it would be once the trees donned their canopies; but something about the flatness of the land unnerved a young man who had spent the relatively few years of his life traveling far, but only in latitudes, only up and down the broad, fecund spine of the Appalachians and the lands that separated those ancient mountains from the sea that once lapped at their flanks. Too young to fear death or need great favors, his musings rarely turned to the protestant God who had perched, predatory, above his childhood, but he thought it chilling that in the great exposures of plain and prairie, there was no place to cower and hide and cringe-that God could reach down to smite and scatter and howl vengeance unimpeded by mountain or foothill or cliff. And indeed He did, Hart realized, needing no great powers of concentration to recall the droughts and floods and blizzards and twisters that ravaged the region in biblical justice, almost ritually scourged and scoured the Midwest. He supposed that these were the prices exacted for the privilege of living in the long, flat shadow of God.