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2010 August 10
by prgiff

First light comes early these summer days. Long before Jim is awake, I slide onto the glider in our glassed-in room with a cup of tea in one hand and my laptop on my knees. There’s plenty of time to write two pages before breakfast, margins large, paragraphs small.

It’s quiet and I’m so still that on the other side of the glass, two feet away, Bambi’s sisters pay no attention to me. They make short work of the hostas, chomping down the row as if the plants are corn on the cob; they double back to snip off tasty morsels they’ve missed. I’m left with strings, but blessed with the close-up view of their liquid brown eyes, their knobby legs, the white spots that haven’t faded yet.

At last the screech of a hawk disturbs them, and tails up, they canter across the lawn, sail over the stone wall, and are gone. 

The hawk disturbs me, too, even though my friend Fabienne tells me ruefully, that it has to eat. But not my squirrels!

Barefoot and trailing my summer quilt, I dart out the door, waving my arms, yelling my version of Shakespeare: “Out damn hawk!” It glares at me from its perch and doesn’t move, but I’ve aroused the squirrels who are stealing the sunflower hearts on the feeder. All four scamper back to their hole in the sycamore tree. The squirrels are safe, the hawk is without breakfast, and the woodpeckers can eat in peace.

I walk over to our messy pond to see the neat V the muskrat leaves in his wake. With his furry face and jutting eyebrows he always looks a little irritable.

There, now I’ve disturbed the pair of geese. They want their breakfast of cracked corn. They waddle after me as I head back to my writing, the female so close I could almost pat her head. “Wait awhile,” I tell them. “I have almost two pages left to write.”

They tilt their heads. Mouths open, I see their pointy pink tongues. All right, they’re hungry. I go into the garage and bring out the corn. I stand there and watch. Only one will eat at a time. She hums as she pecks at the corn; the male watches to be sure they’re both safe.

Then Jim is up. “How did you do this morning?” he asks.

“About seven lines,” I say.

But never mind. The hawk will make a brief appearance in my new book: STORYTELLER. And somehow I’ll work the geese into a book, and maybe the muskrat.

It’s not a loss. Not at all.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Wendy Lamb permalink
    August 10, 2010

    Pat–I love your descriptions of the animals and birds near your house! Now I see the inspiration for many moments in your books.

    7 lines is a lot.

    Maybe sometime you could tell us why you often have irritable cats in your books– haha! You even have one in your latest manuscript, Clarence in R MY NAME IS RACHEL. You specialize in these feline characters.

  2. August 10, 2010

    Taking some really good nature-time is often what makes me feel like I want to get at my writing because there’s so much to say about the world. I agree: It’s not a loss at all.

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