Late June at Longleaf Preserve

I’ve been walking from house to gate nearly every day for twenty years. That third of a mile each way is the same and different. The halfway point on the gravel road is a natural spring that flows 365 days a year. The spring originates just slightly east of the low point in the driveway, flows under the road via a culvert, and then flows west until it merges with a marvelous swamp.

I tell the seasons by what vegetation is waxing or waning along the road. In late June, the fox grapes (scuppernongs) are ripening and the American Beautyberries have put on tiny, grapelike clusters that presage Fall.

All sorts of mushrooms push their way through the loamy forest floor and I marvel at their many incarnations.

A variant of what must be a white slime mold catches my eye. It is draped over an embankment and very nearly looks like a mask covering a human face. Do you not see the eyes, the mouth?

At seven this morning, the air was laden with moisture; the temperature was already in the mid-eighties. Strangely, the heat and humidity were almost a sensual pleasure, and the strong French Roast coffee beans that I had ground and left to brew while Lou Lou Belle and I walked were just that, no question.

audience of one

I’ve never put much stock in birthdays as milestones, but I turned 69 today and that is striking me as a big deal somehow. The thought keeps piercing my comfortable laziness that I’ve got a year to get ready for the decade of my seventies. And that every moment counts.

So what do I want to do with this “rest of my life” question? Do I even want to address the mortality thing, to dream, dare and become — or bumble easily along admiring the sand as it flows to the bottom of the hourglass?

The decade of my fifties was a hotbed of creativity. By the close of 2010, I had become a pioneer blogger with a healthy readership and the joyful sharing that was part of those innocent, largely non-monetized times. We were all learning, and amazed at the interactive “message in a bottle” technology that brought us to each others’ shores within minutes. Several of my essays and flash stories were published, too. I dared to start calling myself “writer.” I even started writing a novel. Who hasn’t, right?

But it all slipped away. That energy. That fire. There was an imperative to write. to play the piano as I once did, and later, to create art. Can I get it back? Do I really want to? After all, I am in love and happy. But that hourglass troubles me, and what might have been. Is it possible to reclaim the creative life that was once my guiding light?

What will you bring to the table when you’re only performing for an audience of one. . .?

― Srinivas Rao, An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake

We are living in a strange time, where people — even writerly folk — are less inclined to give one another the benefit of the doubt; to be curious about one another rather than judgmental. A brittle time.

It goes against my old blogger grain to keep this journey I’m setting out on this morning private. But really, who else would find it interesting? It’s fascinating to me, of course, an audience of one.

Buck and I have nearly completed a three-year project to wrest full private property rights to our land back from a county stealth zoning overlay, (another story, more exciting than it might sound and full of more turns than a Western North Carolina mountain road). I have high physical and mental energy, drive, focus, and the sheer desire to reclaim a creative life.

Let’s get after it and see where it takes us.