Today I Took The Ladder

Out of student loans and tree house homes, we all would take the latter (ladder?)

I hid out in my son’s treeĀ  house today. It’s perpetually unfinished, lending even more depth to its special quality that can only be described as general awesomeness. My husband calls it “nine-year-old chic.”

The tree house, sometimes NASA command center, sometimes island in a vast green sea, stands sentry in the border territory between groomed (albeit irregularly) yard and wild woodlot.

typewriter keys

I had to come up here, somewhere away from the civilized confines of my house, because I have to report terrible things about Pam, who happens to be my editor’s favorite character in Devolution. I’m not doing terrible things to her, just peeping through a hole in the weathered boards between my room and hers, and writing down what I see.

Now she’s plunging her arms deep into the sea-chest of her memories: journals, spy-glasses, flasks, hair combs and pearls and even a piece of the cliff where she spent her youth, just a tiny-finned lass.

rose and camera

There’s more, much more, and I’d better get to it. For it’s cold up here in the tree house. The wind blows chilly out of the west this spring day, tumbling down blooms from the tulip poplar tree. Pam looks toward me, and though I am certain she cannot see my eye at the peephole, a wisp of cool breeze comes through the crack. It stirs her hair. Brings her a whiff of honeysuckle, out of season where she is. She can’t see me, but she knows I’m here. She starts to tell me her story.

I hunker down in my camp chair in the tree house and get to work.


Accidental Hike

I accidentally went hiking today.

While I am writing, Knoxville the basic infrastructure for my vagabond author’s habit, (working on the second book in the Mermaid Underground series…book one available here) I often stop to take a walk. It’s a good way to get back into that smooth writing groove.

One of my favorite parks, New Harvest Park, has a paved quarter-mile track. It’s pleasant enough, rising at the back end to give walkers a view of the trash bins behind Target and Great Clips. There are benches, too, at the elevated back end of the loop.

And, just off to the right, behind the benches…a mown path that soon turns up into the trees. No sign, no invitation or explanation save this mown path through the tall grasses and brambles. Today I took this dubious welcome and veered off the paved way, up, up into the shady trees.

woods and trail

Tennessee woods are moody. They can exhale a sweetness that cools even in the heat of summer. They can be oppressive, drawing in the hot breath of still, moist air and laying it on you like a blanket. Today, rain was coming. The breeze was cool, the sky gray. The woods met the rain with rising moisture from the clay mud below my feet, and I was caught between.

Spiders had flung their nets, thin as a single strand of hair, over the trail. Strand by strand I was caught and broke free, until, by the time I emerged back to the clipped lawns of the civilized part of the park, I was shrouded and veiled, festooned with near-invisible wings, legs, pieces of exoskeleton left behind from the feasts of spiders in the night.

I found the delicate wings of a lunar moth, severed from its body. I took them with me and kept them in a mint tin.