Oh, there you are! I meant to be here weekly since I began a six-week swearing off of meat, alcohol and social media. My intentions were good last week. I even took a break from writing my River Book (***Lord, please let me live long enough to finish my River Book***) to post a Flog, but inspiration was in very short supply. I couldn’t figure out why or where it had gone. Without the spirit/inspiration my writing is so much crap. At least I can identify it as such when I see it, right? So I spared both of us the misery of an uninspired 2,000 word essay.
But then I went outside! Here’s a little backstory: I’ve basically been working on nothing but books for a few years. That’s great for my career but bad for my ass. I gained twenty pounds in the last two years. Instead of giving in to my usual wont for some quick fix, I employed the advice of a professional nutritionist. She tricked me into believing that exercise (gasp) is a necessary part of a healthy every day life. After three months I finally agreed with her and began walking (and hiking, as we’ll see later).
I joined a group on Lake Texoma known as the Filibuster Book Club (FBC). I woke up early Sunday morning and took out alone for a walk around the perimeter of Lake Texoma. I walked for forty-five minutes in one direction and noted two bags of concrete washed ashore. Strange, I thought. There on the bank, not far past the concrete, lay a solitary bone. I examined the bone. It was long and heavy (just like a thigh bone, perhaps?). Most curious of all, in my estimation, was the fact that it had obviously been sawed by some sort of power tool. That’s when my imagination took the wheel. I just wrote a true crime novel last year. Now I’m finishing the first draft of a fiction novel about bones on a river bank. Then I found this cut-up bone on the lake shore. It was all too much. I carried the bone back to the lake house, photographed it, hid it up in a tree (dogs, you know) and sent the photo to a contact I have in law enforcement.
Then I went in and told the members of the FBC what I’d found. None of them cared, nor were they impressed. I was put off by their cold indifference so I showed them the bone. The First Lady of Filibuster rudely googled up a page of dog treats and shoved it in my face. You know, the sort of treats that one might buy at a place like PetSmart. There on the web page was an identical replica of the bone I’d just found on the shore. It was too late. I’d already sent the bone photo to the O.S.B.I. Sure enough, an hour or so later I heard back from the agent: “Looks like a cow bone.” He was gracious enough to not call me a moron. That’s when I realized that after this fourth book is finished it is high time for your old pal to get out of the bone business.
I’ve just returned from a beautiful place in a national forest, hence the wellspring of new inspiration to post a Flog. Now is the time when I should be doing work on the book but today I allowed myself a splurge. We went to a place deep in the valley of the Buffalo National River. The timing was perfect because Spring is nigh. The clear and cold streams were flowing full, the fish were biting and new growth began to appear in the forests.
We went for a hike to a point called Hawk’s Bill Crag. Now, it isn’t a difficult hike. I looked it up later and the distance is only 3 miles. The trail is officially designated a Moderate Hike (by people who hike, I reckon). The truth is I gassed out about five times hiking to and fro. The walk down to the crag was all downhill. At the bottom I saw a guy who appeared to be in just about the same shape as myself, holding a tree in a lover’s grip and gasping for breath. “Uh oh,” I thought. But it was too late. I was far too committed by then to turn back. The end result was well worth the pain. Along the way we crossed over a small mountain rivulet that ran down until it found the bluff’s edge and spilled over in a dazzling, sunlit waterfall. The rock formations along the latter part of the hike looked like something akin to a mini-Stonehenge, leaned up against one another in strange configurations. Hawk’s Bill Crag jutted out into the high open space of the great valley just like a … well, like a … oh, you know.
People were sitting out on the rocky overhang, some basking in the sun, some apparently in quiet meditation and prayer. The warmth and peace of the place made each of us feel as though we ranked among a rare few on earth who had been let in on some magnificent secret. The great river valley stretched out for miles below, from horizon to horizon. These are moments that satisfy the desire for inspiration – moments in which a human feels very small.
I did manage to haul myself back up the mountain but you better believe I floated my ample apple shape in a bubble tub for a couple of hours afterward. That was one dirty bubble, let me tell you.
On the last day we went down to the river’s edge where people were putting rafts and kayaks in! We were shocked because the river water is something like 50 degrees right now. After a few amateurs turned over in their canoes we managed to only laugh just a little and whisper-yell at the rest of the family to come over and have a look. The kids made castles in the sand. My little niece and nephew ran around in the nearby field just as it was beginning to green up. They used a wand to throw up a trail of bubbles in the air as they ran laughing. A puppy chased after them, biting at the bubbles. A shaft of light shone down in the very place where they ran and for a moment it appeared as though my nephew might be in the midst of levitation. When I looked at the photo later and noted their faces I realized that the spirit/inspiration is no mystery. It is always found right next to the river in sunshine and bubbles.
Then I started writing again.
I hope to meet you in the Twain?
Always with love,
Your Cowgirl in the Sand