It’s black Friday. Will is skiing with friends; Bill and Liam are home making bread; and I’m in the library. I’m thankful yesterday was Thanksgiving, for I’ve brought a mug of green tea and the first sip has scalded the taste buds on my tongue. And that’s where we seem to be many days, scrounging around for the good amidst the bad and the ugly. I want to associate the word “relentless” with the “good” for a bit.
With a little prompting by a message delivered at church a week ago, I sat down with a blank page the night before Thanksgiving and began the list of things I’m grateful for by taking a spin through photos on my phone. What a great place to start, for I rarely take a photo of something I’m NOT thankful for!
A lover of writing lists, this one is particularly rewarding because there are no restricting rules for writing it and no actions required after writing it. I can even lose it and simply write another one; it doesn’t need to be the same. The beauty of this list is in the reflecting and initial writing, rather than the rereading.
I managed to come up with a full notebook page of hand-written good stuff. It meant walking away from the TV, social media, newspaper – and those other lists with the prefix “to-do.”
I have been revising my manuscript more than writing lately. I have a deadline of the end of November to send the manuscript for a reread by a professor/editor I met at the Writers Institute over the summer. The biggest challenge has been to organize my musings so that they will make sense to a new reader. I do not write based on a calendar with a topic slated in for each week, reflecting a natural arc or flow or theme. Scattered, random, and sprinkled are the more positive ways I would describe my writing process. Disorganized, strewed, diffused would be those adjectives on the polar opposite of my description. I’m looking for a meeting place in the middle of the two.
However, today I’m not working on the manuscript, rather I’m in my corner office and reflecting on a corner in Mom and Dad’s basement.
When I walk up the steps to the quiet room in the library, it feels like a grand cape of the every-day-non-writer Linda flies off and glides to the floor. It lays there with all that is “that me” until I depart the room a couple hours later. Similarly, Linda Malcolm the writer doesn’t think too much about the quiet room when I’m not in there. However, I noticed the quiet room recently when I was on my way to the post office, which is next door to the library. Early morning sun was shining on both buildings and my eye gazed at my corner office. The whole annex on the right-hand side of the building.
Pivot to scene two. A week ago, I went to Iowa for a pre-Thanksgiving trip by myself to see my family. Mom had Thanksgiving dinner early with all my siblings and their families. After the clean-up, the dishwasher sprung a leak and flooded the kitchen floor, then seeped through the beams to the basement where we soaked up and DryVac-ed up a small pond. If this little event hadn't occurred, I may not have noticed this corner.
Scenes from childhood live like apparitions. The feeling of a time and place is familiar but rarely tangible. Yet this… Oh my… This. These are the shelves that kept us fed with fruit and vegetables in the winters. With the same canned fruits and vegetables. Peaches, green beans, applesauce, Bing cherries, peaches, tomatoes. I caught these quiet shelves early in the morning, lit by the sun coming in the basement window across the room. Each jar points back to the growing season, to Mom’s work in canning, as well as ahead to dinners throughout the winter and early spring. Perhaps there are more pints than quarts now, but that is the only difference I see from these shelves to those of some thirty years ago.
Of all the scribbling on that list, these corners fall under the unwritten item that draws them together today. Faithful morning light.