Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hog Island report #2

I had hoped to report to you from Hog Island a couple times, but work on the book was so engaging that I let the flow take me over and, well, I figured the blog entries could wait.  But I’m home now and figured an update was in order. 

I have to admit, I’ve never had four weeks quite like this last month.  When I’m just going about the business of living my life, all kinds of stuff pops up in the course of a day.  Grass cutting.  Junk email that looks kind of intriguing.  Grocery shopping.  Riding bikes with the grandson. 

But on Hog Island, all of that melted away and the book was before me all the time.  I guess I wasn’t sure just how that would work, but I have been in the process of working on the darned thing for so long, given the chance to focus on just Nature’s people worked for me.  When I was in Cumberland over the winter, I didn’t know if the book would come to me or not.  Over the first couple of days there, I just felt stressed about it.  Not so on Hog Island this time around.  

One thing I have learned about my book writing process, as I’m sure I already mentioned in the last blog, is that my ADD brain truly benefits by shutting out the outside world while I’m trying to assemble the book ‘puzzle.’  Full sequester kept me calm and after my library and notes were set up, I just ‘dropped in’ and progress happened any number of ways.  And for that I am very grateful.  Next sequester is the month of October back at Cumberland where I hope to do some damage to two more chapters.  Next January/February is currently lined up for the fourth sequester, which I hope gets the book into good final draft format.  

Aside from writing success, though, I wanted to write today about working in the very place that Mabel Loomis Todd built.  It was not intimidating, and no, I never felt the presence of ghosts, though Mrs. Todd had to have died in the very room where I worked.  Story is she collapses on the porch and died a couple hours later.  Surely Frank Lailer and Howard Hilder, her caregivers who were on the island at the time, brought her into her loved ‘living room’ where she was made as comfortable as possible over her last hours.  I find it touching, too, that Hilder inscribed her last diary entry as a way for closure in that precious daily document.

Though I didn’t feel her presence particularly, I did speak to her often.  I thanked her and the building she built for my ability to be present to do the work I was doing there.  I refrained from playing music to ‘fill the house’ until late in the day both for my own concentration and entertainment factors.  And when I did play some music, it was ‘New World Symphony’ and some Mozart.  And, yes, I did play a bunch of my patented annual collections.  I remember once explaining to her who Roy Orbison was.  I hope she would have enjoyed that music, as well.  I visualized her dancing to some of the livelier pieces.  

But I’m home now and hope to get some work done on the book before October.  Still, it’s hard to tell.  I must admit I am not quite overwhelmed with life since my return, but yesterday was pretty full catching up with stuff in front of a wifi-powered computer, putting stuff away, sorting out dirty clothes, and cutting grass in a big yard that was weeks overdue.  Life at home jumped right back into full impact.  In a way, such disappoints me, but on the other hand, it is what my life is:  house, family, gardens, etc.  It’s tough to dismiss life if that’s the way you live it, you know? 

Such an amazing month on Hog Island, that much I can tell you.  I mentioned somewhere that it felt like walking into a time machine every morning going to work in Mrs. Todd’s summer space.  Air flowed, birds called, red squirrels rattled, rain fell.  And I worked through it all, doing my best to put myself in that place when she would have been present.  I told her I hoped my story telling would do honor to the work she did in her life.  Such is my goal.  I hope she agrees when all is said and done. 

Today’s elder idea:   
We always knew that the island is like Paradise in many of its delightful characteristics, but this morning when I came to the little lobster house, I found the beach literally paved with shining crystal.  It was like a pavement of cobble stones, only instead of the unknowing stone “whose coat of elemental brown, A passing universe put on,” the individual stones were of the purest, most transparent clear glass.  As the rising sun shown more and more clearly on this fairy floor, iridescent colours shot here and there making the whole beautiful substance more exquisite than imagination could have pictured.

Mabel Loomis Todd
on jellyfish from her unpublished Epic of Hog

image:  Mavooshen’s front porch at sunny sunset.