Have you read Where The Red Fern Grows?
Have you read Where The Red Fern Grows?
“Erslebet persuaded her husband to come to bed early. She waits for him there. As he enters the bedroom, he senses her perfume unfolding around him, a narcotic atmosphere of musk, ambergris, vanilla, iris, rose. She prepared this invisible landscape for him to cross.”
-Jody Shields, The Fig Eater
Let me tell you dear readers, about a man who lives in a cottage in the woods. He built most of the cottage himself and the lines are clear and strong, much like this man himself. He loves his life there, on his land, with a good strong house and a dog to keep him company. It’s peaceful and serene, a harbor away from the stormy outer world.When the windows are open, the sultry beat of John Coltrane drifts out into the clear evening sky along with the yeasty smell of fresh baked bread.
But there’s one thing missing in his cottage in the woods…a woman to grace his table and his world. He pictures her there, sharing the evening soup, his dog lying under the table and he pictures her in his bed, happy flushed face as they kiss and kiss again. He imagines her smiling in the doorway, viewing his cottage, his life, his cozy life and walking in, to sit on the loveseat where they embrace. He has so much to tell her, this woman, so much to share, to give.
He begins to search for this woman, first near and then far. Here and there, kind women say hello, and he sends them playful letters, that smell of pine needles, smoky fire and starlit skies. He sends a light wisp of air kissing the woman’s wrist before floating away.He weaves stories to circle the woman’s waist and draw her closer still.
He waits, and he is patient, for just the right woman to respond. One who sends letters that smell of cinnamon and cloves, who is quick to laugh and even quicker to passion, who satiates his mind with bountiful dialogue and never-ending curiosity. Who wants to join him there, in his cottage in the woods.
The pen is still scratching across the page, so we don’t know yet what happens with this man, dear reader, but we do know this. We know that love is the most powerful force in the universe, and we know that if we have an open heart……love will always find a way.
“Her eyes rest on his, or his on hers. Green-flecked. He feels a tug. A continent still unexplored and he about to leave! A pang, a tiny pang of loss, shoots through him. Pain not without pleasure, like certain grades of toothpaste. He can conceive of something quite serious with this woman, whom he will not see again.
“I know what you are thinking,” she says. “You are thinking we won’t see each other again. You are thinking what a wasted investment.”
“What else do you see?”
“You think I have been using you. You think I have been trying to reach your mother through you.”
She is smiling. No fool. A capable player.
“Yes.” he says. “No.” He draws a deep breath. “I’ll tell you what you really think. I think you are drawn, even if you won’t acknowledge it, by the mystery of the divine in the human. You know there is something very special in my mother, yet when you meet her, she turns out to be just an ordinary old woman. You can’t square the two. You want an explanation. You want a clue, a sign, if not from her, then from me. That’s what you think. It’s all right. I don’t mind.”
Strange words to be speaking over breakfast, over coffee and toast. He did not know he had them in him.”
-J.M. Coetzee, What is Realism? Best American Essays 1998
It’s not a New Year’s resolution….it’s soaring off a cliff, my wings spread wide. 2017 will be when I finally settle into writing in earnest…after yearning to for so many years. I joined the writing community of Medium this year and it has added rocket fuel to my resolve. I am sharing an exchange I had in October with the magnificent Oliver Shiny because it needs to be together in its entirety and because every time I read it….it fires me up anew. Links to his writing at the end.
OLIVER:(responding to someone else’s story)
Fuck, I hate people like you, because if you wrote this at twenty-four, and in the face of ennui as you’re suggesting, then that means whenever you get to be my age then you’ll be blazing fiery trails of quietus and rage around me. You’ll be running past my simpleness like a roaring storm and making me look like I’m standing still.
It’s people like you, with your talent and abilities, that make me feel like holding the crowd back and shouting, “watch that one soar! There goes a bright place. Keep your eyes wide and your minds unmired, if magic’s to your taste, because you’ll see some here, bright as the stars arising.”
There’s you, raising standards and sitch… And here’s me, sometimes proud but usually muzzy for my headachy feebleness and hollow trying.
I hate it because you’re, like, raising the stakes. You’re like a dare. You’re like a train made of howls and fire that’s shrieking up the pike after me, and I’m liable to get got, if’n I don’t step it.
Damn, that’s good.
Like wicked good.
So good I want to write this amazing reply to your whole post and take the stakes even higher. But it’s one in the morning and I am tired.
Can I get a rain check?
Rain check given.
LYNETTE: (next morning)
You should know that when I saw your rain check this morning my first thought was GULP, and I thought about leaving that, just that one word reply, gulp, to be funny and also to say in just that one word just how impossible it felt to write anything remotely as brilliant as your response, and thought, maybe that’s stupid and then thought, fuck no, nothing written is stupid, just maybe shades more or less profound, you should see the tornado brewing in my head just from your post.
If you can write something so crazy good, so brilliant, so masterful, off the cuff, just as a REPLY just what are you capable of? I want to buy you a beer or two or three at some little pissy bar and watch your hands, that write so well lift the beers to your face as we solve all the problems of the universe, because we all know those are best solved over copious amounts of beer, and not the best beer either, just the bar specialty that runs through you fast so there’s many trips to the loo, as we laugh and snarl and twirl a finger to signal another round.
Burn it, Lynette! We’re all made of cold, dense, waiting. Coal-black not-much that’s weighing us down and wasting our un-grown fire. We’re full of fuel. We’re made of wailing-stuff and wanting-stuff, and our main cleverness is ignoring it and preserving it, cold and dense and waiting.
Burn it, else tomorrow will have no light. Set your waiting screams of slow-dying on fire, give them the life they want, and make. I care not what you make. Just make it.
This. THIS. This is what drew me to Medium.
I have nudged an artist friend from time to time to seek fellow artists and be part of an artist community that supports each other…he has a sensitive eye when it comes to his own paintings and tends to see what he wants to repair instead of just how great his paintings are…but he doesn’t reach out and I think it would be wonderful for him if he would.
Reading all the great writers here on Medium, ones like you Mr Shiny, likeTremaine L. Loadholt, Jason Stelzner, Heath Houston, Braden Turner, Wild Flower, Garnet-Shaw, H. Nemesis Nyx, Night Writer, and too many more to list, and those are just the blazing extraordinary talents I have discovered so far in my first two months, has humbled me, excited me, and inspired my writing to a frenzy not felt in the past 20 years.
so thank YOU, and you over there and you and you and you.
Also, I ain’t sure I deserve your kindness. Ain’t completed my novitiate as far as I’m concerned, ye ken? But I thank you for it.
We can all use a wee bit of encouragement and praise with our morning tea, whether it be for latching the garden gate securely against the evening gales, or for something more substantial like a beautiful work of art….it’s nourishment.
And you most certainly deserve it.
Looking forward to seeing what you write next.
Isn’t he WONDERFUL!!! I am in constant awe of his magnificent talents. Here’s where you can read more of his writing. And you SHOULD. Oliver Shiny On Medium
HERE’s to a SPLENDID 2017!
“The events of the past always color how we view the present and future, so it’s important to put them into a useful perspective. We do have that choice…we choose the lens through which we see the world. So now, as I’m looking into an uncertain future it strikes me…isn’t it always uncertain to some extent?
So much has happened in my little corner of the world this year. My Mom passed through the veil, several friends have experienced trauma and life-threatening illness, one is currently in the hospital prognosis unknown. It’s been so difficult to find the good in it all.
But, as I sit here, sipping a cup of tea, with a pan of brownies in the oven, warm, safe and comfortable, I know there is good to be found. Not as much in the grand things, but in the small everyday things we tend to take for granted. It’s in the love and support of family both blood and chosen, friends, and community. It’s in being healthy enough to go grocery shopping and cook…and having the funds to do so. It’s in sharing experiences and time with friends…and the stories that are the result of those times. It’s in being there when someone needs what you have to offer.
People have stepped up to help me in ways both large and small, from listening to me pour out my grief, giving me lifts to events to putting in a walkway to make my home accessible for my new scooter (yay!). Thank you.
There is, indeed, pain in the world, more than enough to go around, and we all have some. Remember, though, that the ability to sense pain is a good thing. It warns us when there is danger, it’s the signal that something is wrong. The thing is, we can choose to see it as a barrier to joy or as a jump-start to change. Going forward, I choose to focus on the simple day-to-day pleasures of good food, good friends, good times. I choose to use those things to fuel me enough to offer what good I can to those around me.
As individuals, the choices we make can seem small and insignificant. But as a drop of water becomes a powerful river when it joins with other drops, together we can change the world. So choose wisely.”