When Bill Anderson came through Springfield the other day and we were visiting, one of the points he made was that writers are blessed almost daily with surprises. Someone sends a touching fan note. A request comes in for permission to reprint something. A new idea smacks us on the forehead. It doesn’t have to be a big surprise to brighten the day.
I’ve thought about Bill’s comment several times since then. He’s right. The surprises are like adrenalin in my system. They perk me up, recharge me, lift my spirits, remind me why I do what I do each day, even on mornings when what I really want to do is sleep in.
Example: Yesterday Su Hutchens sent me two poems from a second grade class she was teaching. All the kids wrote poems, then they selected two for me. I read them with a smile and promptly wrote a poem for them. The whole exchange was brief, but what a delightful surprise!
And if that weren’t surprise enough for the day, a friend sent a picture of his little boy, David, at the moment he opened an envelope addressed to him that contained a book of mine. It was a gift from my son, Jeff.
On days when it’s hard to smile, a child’s picture shows up or students send poems, and I’m reminded of the perks of being a writer.
Sandy and I spent Saturday night with Robin, Tim, and Kris on Table Rock Lake. Yesterday Sandy and I were having morning coffee on the deck of our lodge unit when I noticed a silken strand floating in the sunlight. When I looked more closely, I made out others. Some were catching on the tree limbs nearby. Others were rising and falling on the air, going where it would take them to find their destinies. One came across my lap.
At the end of each silken thread was a tiny speck of life. I remembered the scene when Charlette’s children were released from their eggs and Wilbur watched in amazement as they floated away. There was no pig around yesterday to watch the little miracle unfold, but I thought again of E. B. White’s wonderful tale and thought, if I listened more carefully, I might hear a chorus of excited voices on the breeze calling out “Wheeeeeeee!”
For the past several years I’ve watched the limbs on two of our hackberry trees reach for one another. Each growing season they add a few more inches to their outstretched arms, like lovers struggling desperately to feel the embrace of the other. At the end of last year, when falling leaves revealed the denuded bony fingers separated by bare inches, I was sure that this year they would make it, this year I would witness the day when their union was consummated.
I see three possibilities for the first to touch. A good wind might hasten the moment. A heavy rain might droop them together. But I prefer a bright, hot sun following a growing rain. I want to see this happen fair and square. I believe the limbs want it that way too. No kiss and run for them. They have worked for this and they have earned it. One day this summer, or next, I will look up and see the hungry limbs of these two trees touching leaves. Like kissing on the first date, I know they will feel good all the way down to their tap roots. I want to be there to celebrate with them.
And here we are at Saturday. Yesterday we recorded another 3+ inches of rain and a pair of toads promptly showed up in our pool. They seemed to be good friends. As I watched, she laid out a long strand of eggs into the water that resembled a DNA double helix. Feeling like a midwife, I scooped both toads out with my hands. They gazed around for a few minutes before hopping off in different directions. The male paused briefly at the edge of a large hostas plant, piped a tired little note, and disappeared.
The eggs won’t make it of course. If the sting of chlorine doesn’t get them, the crushing will of the robot on patrol will. The toads won’t know of the tragedy. Or care. True to their nature, they successfully mated, left the proof under four feet of water at the bottom of our pool, and hopped on to other matters. Whether the eggs prosper or perish is of no concern to them. That’s why so many toads leave so many eggs this time of year. Some will survive and that’s all that matters.
With apologies for the hurried photography, that’s all for now at Goose Lake.