Muskrat-watching has become a favorite household activity at the Wood family pond, for both dog and humans. 13-year-old Clara poses no risk to these quizzical, hard-working, highly appealing critters, so she joins our observations. There are at least six muskrats of varying sizes out there, with residences excavated into the pond bank or constructed from a bed of reeds. They’ve been highly active lately, clearing the ground of dropped apples, feasting on cattail fronds, busily crossing and re-crossing the pond to and from their work. It’s pandemic-era entertainment.
You’re Invited! Muskrat-watching and bocce ball by the pond, with a campfire.
This morning was our first ice-over. Hard not to worry about the bristly gang out there, but apparently they can be underwater for 12-17 minutes, and with vertically flattened tails that are half the length of their body, they are speedy swimmers. They are well-adapted to the ice and cold. Their biggest threat is the eagles, foxes, and one lone coyote that I’ve spotted twice in the last month. Well, everyone has to eat.
And so do we! Here on the eve of Thanksgiving, I wish for all of you, like our animal neighbors, plenty to feast upon, a warm place to sleep, and good company, even if your togetherness must be adapted to audio or video technology.
**photography credit - thanks to Lisa Wahlstrom!!
I am stumbling along through this brand new world of pre-selling promotions. I remember feeling confused about a friend's upcoming book last year. When it was finally published, I thought, wait, wasn't it out months ago? I felt I'd been inundated with her book's news. Now I am doing the same thing. My friends will surely have book fatigue before the book is even released.
Slowly, "the way things work" is unfolding - how to talk to bookstores and libraries, how distribution will work, which tasks are mine versus my publisher versus my publicist. My communications have resulted in a mix of "oops" and "awesome." Happily, the state of Maine is filled with friendly, forgiving folks, and I have some enthusiastic booksellers in my court now!
Three books about book promotion are on their way to my local library through interlibrary loan. I am a book business freshman.
Here's another lovely blurb! This one's from a writer/biographer/historian who became a friend and mentor during my Rachel Field research years. Thank you, Benson!
"This wonderful book--based on meticulously thorough, devoted research--is a lovingly tender, wise, and judicious account of Rachel Field and her world. Its unusual blend of memoir and biography helps to illuminate the life, even as a poignant dialogue between the author and her subject unfolds. Truly, a tour-de-force!"
--Benson Bobrick, award-winning author of Angel in the Whirlwind and Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution it Inspired.
Alex Trebek died yesterday at age 80 of pancreatic cancer. For over 30 years he hosted Jeopardy, entertaining my parents, me, my children, three generations of fans. I will miss him!
What was it that made him so appealing? He was genuine, kind, cheerful, interested in people, a bit nerdy in an endearing way. He never sought the limelight; he tried to highlight the game’s contestants, not himself. Though he expressed a “tsk tsk” kind of disappointment when contestants missed the easy ones, his disapproval was gentle, far outshone by his enthusiasm over their success. He loved his job but never took himself too seriously. He always showed up looking his best, putting his best face forward, even in pain and discomfort (sometimes severe) during his cancer treatments. Publicly, he addressed his disease, likely to lead to his death, with steady calm, honesty, and hopefulness, as though his goal was to make us all feel better. He kept on living in full to the last.
Who would imagine that a quiz show host could rise to the status of role-model? Alex Trebek made me feel like the world was not just okay, but actually pretty cool. He was an icon of goodness, unbiased congeniality, quiet leadership. Steady as she goes. Thank you, Mr. Trebek.
The weather in Maine feels portentous.
We’ve been pummeled by a blustery, insistent buffeting of wind over the last two days, spitting rain and sleet and snow. It’s hard to capture on camera, especially the sound, the roar and whoosh and whipping of trees, the dance and fling and whirlwinds of leaves. The sheer force of it evades the power of a still photo – the slog of walking into the wind, like fighting the tide, a deepwater striding, the wheelbarrows toppled and branches bent, the eddies of debris flung into the sky, leaves simultaneously flinging up from the ground and down from the treetops. Hard to tell which way the world is moving.
Here is a photograph of the surf on Sutton Island yesterday. We’d just shut off our water, antifreezed the pipes for the winter, when the ferryboat threatened to skip our island stop. We have no water! They relented. The second photo is our backyard, today. When the gusts hit as you round a corner, they knock you off track. Even when they remain distant, overhead in the trees, their dramatic acrobatics intimidate. They shanghai the trees into service as reluctant, albeit flexible partners, most of them, except the ones that break.
Tonight, storms of bluster pummel our airwaves and our headspace. Tornadoes of activity engender intensity but little clarity. There’s no escaping. Something’s coming our way.
Let’s hope these are winds of positive change. Hang on to your hats, everybody.
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.