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Vacation

2010 November 9
by prgiff

We left for Vermont yesterday morning, before  it was light. “I need a vacation,” I had told Jim. “Just a few days.”

Vacation means sitting somewhere quietly  at an inn near a fireplace, writing. Not so different from my life at home, but with a few exceptions: no guilt over the quality of my cooking, answering mail or not, reading manuscripts.

This morning, I was up early, looking out at snow. Imagine, a Christmas card scene in early November. And there was the fireplace, and my computer, and my toes toasty warm.

But what I love most about this writing life are the opportunities I find everywhere to dream about, to shape into stories. An elderly man was enjoying the fire, too. He’d come to the inn for his son’s wedding. “Deaf,” he told me, his voice loud. “It was the sound of the mortars in the South Pacific.”

I looked up from my computer. He was talking about the years of my childhood. While I was living during  the homefront war I described in LILY’S CROSSING, he was living the war in combat.

“I was seventeen,” he said, “Five feet and one-hundred pounds. I spoke Polish at home and my father, who had fought in the Russo-Japanese War, told me I should go to fight for my country.”

We talked for a long time. He told me stories of fighting, of hunger, of reaching out for bars of candy that were thrown to the soldiers on the line. I cried over his stories and he cried, too. By the time he returned home  after the war, he was one-hundred-eighty pounds.  A man whose father hardly recognized him, he mused.

An hour later, he came back to the fire, bringing me a bowl of white roses and lilies. “A gift,” he said.

Could I return the gift? Could I write about him someday, my admiration, my thanks?

I’m going to try, of course I am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday morning, we left for Vermont before it was light. “I need a vacation,” I had told Jim. “Just a few days.”

Vacation means sitting somewhere quietly by the fireplace at an inn, writing all day. Not so different from my life at home, but with a few exceptions: no guilt over the quality of my cooking, answering mail, or not, reading manuscripts.

Jim was delighted it was Vermont and not Ireland.

This morning, I was up early, looking out at snow. Imagine, a Christmas card scene in early November. And there was the fireplace, and my computer, and my toes toasty warm. But what I love most about this writing life are the opportunities I find everywhere to dream about, to shape into stories.

An elderly man was enjoying the fire, too. He’d come to the inn for his son’s wedding. “Deaf,” he told me, his voice loud. “It was the sound of the mortars in the South Pacific.”

I looked up from my computer. He was talking about the years of my childhood. While I was living through the homefront war I described in LILY’S CROSSING, he was living the war in combat.

“I was seventeen,” he said, “Five feet and one-hundred pounds. I spoke Polish at home and my father, who had fought in the Russo-Japanese War, told me I should go to fight for my country.”

By the time he returned home he was one-hundred-eighty pounds. “A man,” he said.

He returned to the fire later, bringing me a bowl of white roses and lilies. “A gift,” he said.

Could I return the gift? Could I write about him someday, my admiration, my thanks?

I’m going to try, of course I am.

One Response leave one →
  1. Robin Hartpence permalink
    November 9, 2010

    I was looking throughout this website and I couldn’t find any information on you and school visits. I’m very interested to know if you still visit schools. I’m from Topeka, KS, and the librarians in my district are working on lining up a children’s author for April of 2011. I know we (students included) would be thrilled to have you come and share about your life and your incredible talent as a writer.

    Please let me know if this is a possibility.
    Thank you for your time.
    Robin Hartpence (librarian)
    Indian Hills Elementary (Topeka, KS)

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