One week from today I will be greeting my family in open arms, and most of us will see each other for the entire week, wherein, despite foot problems I am bound to go to Turkey Run and hike. We’ve also been talking about a possible Lake Michigan Dunes trip. And I’ve been trying to figure out how to work swimming into my schedule now that running is still out. Mom goes to a pool each week for water aerobics, so I may see if I can tag along. It sounds like the pool is a little empty. But of course swimming in a lake is more ideal. Maybe even inner-tubing down the local river. I haven’t been able to spend this much time with family for a while. The last time was at a funeral, and it was just a short weekend. As this blog describes, it is the outdoors that motivates me. Being in nature. Being with family and old friends on top of that is a double-bonus.
I still don’t know what’s going on with my ankle and calf. I have had two ultrasounds and a knee x-ray and two sets of bloodwork, and nothing points to why there would still be swelling and pain. I remain positive because of how healthy I am; my blood pressure and heart-rate are low. I don’t have indicators of arthritis. My other vitals and hemoglobins are within normal range. One of the ultrasounds hasn’t come back with results yet. I have considered recently renaming the blog since I have not been able to run in a month and a half, but I still hope this setback is of a temporary nature, and I will run again. So it stands until further testing and results. But the nature of the blog, getting out on the trail (like when cycling) and exploring the wilderness, will not change.
In this downtime, there is still a positive outlook on everything. Life just seems good, though of course there is some heartache here and there when I think of people I’ve lost like Dad, and the missing of family so far away, but overall I often hope that this blog doesn’t come across as bragging just because I am truly happy in life. I have a natural skill of ignoring drama and focusing on important things in life.
Part of my motivation for writing anything is to inspire people to try to find the real rewards in life–meaning the down-to-earth, not the arrogant or self-delusions of wealth, fame, and power. And in doing so, I like to try to expose what it means to live in this era. My life-long work has been not just editing and writing but documentation, which is an important work in an anthropological sense–that we document our times so that our descendants may be able to see what we were like. This documentation can be nonfiction and memoir, as in this blog, and it can be in fiction, which is a deep love of mine.
I think I mentioned it before, but I decided to re-create my debut novel Back to the Garden (pen, Clara Hume) as the first of a series titled The Wild Mountain series. Part II will be To the Waters and the Wild. I’ve written 5,000 words this week so far–more than that, but I’ve removed some of the prologue. I’m also still working on Up the River, as referenced before in this blog. Writing seems to be going well. I think all writers mature some as they go along, but I’m constantly exploring what it means to write about climate change in fiction, and it is way more complex than one would think. A recent article in Book Riot attributed Jeff VanderMeer as describing fiction as “an organism” and “a living creature.” I thought of his book Annihilation, where one of the characters, the biologist, discovers a tunnel and is investigating it and sees organisms writing letters on a wall. I may talk about VanderMeer quite a bit, but as far as looking at climate change in fiction, Jeff really is a prominent spokesperson in the field of environmental fiction overall, and his ideas are some of the most well-thought out and wise.
It is helpful to read such things as I embark on more writing that attempts to address climate change in fiction without being didactic and just creating a good story. How do we know if our stories are good?
I think with this running downtime, I am just going out on the trail in fiction for the time being. From a draft of To the Waters and the Wild, copyright Mary Woodbury:
Early autumn settled on the mountain, and after a week of rare rain, I went riding. The trail in parts was windy and full of switchbacks and wild blackberries growing so high that sometimes they suspended from the canopy in jungle-like vines that appeared as deathly as snakes. Buttercups peeked through the trailside flora, which spread onto the dirt path as if trying to take over. Tilting over the trail were bright red and yellow butterfly weeds, and to the distance, the deeply rich red Indian Paintbrush swept across the floor of the mountain beyond the trail. Red and orange dominated the trail beyond the green, with poppies and hyssop. On horseback it blurred by with the constant wind. I was drifting in thought, coming to an area where the switchbacks ended and I had ridden to a higher flat mesa. I saw two eagles above, squawking and chasing ravens in the gray canvas as sunlight tried to penetrate the dance. Their wings were taken by the crazy wind.
This trail was my favorite. It went into the eastern wild. I had seen bear, deer, and tiny frogs on it. I had found rabbits and the occasional feral pig. On the straighter part of the trail, I moved to a canter and looked forward to getting a cold drink at a stream ahead, which was a long tributary off Whiskey Jack creek to the northeast. My horse would appreciate it too, once he walked his heat off. I heard the tiny stream before seeing it. Seemed like every year when I rode this trail, the stream became narrower. The water was still cold, and I filled up my canteen. The wooden bridge had rails, and I tied up my horse, giving him a long leash to walk and then drink out of the creek. He whinnied happily. I took off my boots and sat on the bridge, dangling my feet over the edge so that I could feel the cool waters on my calloused and tired feet. And that’s when I heard something. I thought it sounded like voices. The sound was carried by the wind.
Nature as place. Nature as character. Nature as expansion of the person speaking. Fiction as a living creature. This exploration is a constant part of life, a reason alone to get excited (but seeing family is a plus).
The featured image is one I took on the trail run above the Cliffs of Moher, near Doolin, Ireland last summer.