Thursday, August 26, 2010

What if I'm a real author?

Last night a friend told me I had to 'step into' my author role. "Just visualize it and step right into it!" she said with enthusiasm. (I have wonderful friends. They are so supportive.)

Sigh. It sounds so simple, but quite frankly, the whole author thing is still too stiff and new. So, here, in public, I am going to try to stretch it out a bit. You know...soften the leather. Work it, baby, work it.

I'm an author. Yes, it's true.

Anyone who read my Three Pounds, Seven Ounces column knows I delivered my first manuscript to my publisher in January. Since then, I've worked through photo permissions, substantive, style and copy edits and proofreading. But, all that is behind me now. 'The Book' will be delivered to me - in my hand - in mid-September.

Here are the specs:
Title:  Sanctuary: The Story of Naturalist Mary Majka
Genre: Non-Fiction
Trade Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Goose Lane Editions (Sep 24 2010)
Language: English
List price: $19.95
ISBN-10: 0864926243
ISBN-13: 978-0864926241

I'm an author. says so.

And now, in spite of my concerns about social media, I have an author Facebook site (want to join?). I'm redesigning my website.

Part of me's just a label. What does it matter? I'm still just me. No different.

But I am different. Writing this book changed me...but more about that later...

For now...I'm an author.

And September is Celebration Month. Besides having my first book published, I'll be turning 50 and will celebrate my 22nd wedding anniversary. And our three-month-old grandson will be coming for his first visit out east.  Shake me. 

It's a hard thing to wrap my head around. On the surface, nothing has changed. Yet inside, nothing is the same. Just like the emotional upheaval of becoming a grandmother. You just gotta live and love the moment right?

I'm an author. Stretch.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lords of the Dance

August would not be August without a visit to Marys Point to watch the shorebirds dance.

Each year, as the summer sun wanes, 75-90% of the world's population of shorebirds pause in the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy - in particular Marys Point - while on migration from Arctic breeding grounds to the southern tip of South America. Their arrival begins in July; first the female flocks, then the males, followed by the juveniles in early August.

Thousands of bird lovers, nature enthusiasts and the curious come to watch. They sit quietly on the shore, respectfully well back, watching and waiting. For the Dance.

The birds rest at high tide, blending in like so many buff-coloured pebbles on the beach. Their quiet murmurs and mutterings have given them the nickname 'peeps'. But for this subtle undercurrent of sound, the inexperienced may not even know they are there.

But when disturbed or startled, the birds take to the air, their white underbellies flickering in the light. The air is filled with the wash of their wings, like surf on the shore. Their flight is utter poetry and as they sway back and forth above the surface of the waves, I wonder if they hear a melody on the wind that we cannot.

No one sees these lords of the dance without being moved.

I remember my first shorebird experience. I was kayaking at the Hopewell Rocks
(an experience in itself).

I had left the group and headed back to shore alone when I was overtaken by a large flock of the birds - tens of thousands. I heard them coming, their wings like wind in the birches.

Mesmerized, I floated motionless in my kayak. Like a mirage, the flock turned toward me, skimming the glassy surface of the bay. As their sheer numbers washed over and past me, like water around a stone, I felt the brush of wings on my upturned cheek….but perhaps it was only the breath of their passing.

Then, just as suddenly, they were gone…and I drifted alone.

These, then, are the shorebirds of Fundy.

Have I piqued your curiosity? Want to know more?

Shorebirds of Fundy
Hopewell Rocks - Shorebirds

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

River Reflections

"I want to see through the moment to the landscape as it is, unobstructed, undimmed, each edge sharp, each surface brightly coloured, each detail defined, separate, certain, fixed in time and place. These are visions to cherish, like gemstones. But also, every once in a while, to see a landscape with ancient clarity: to see a river fluttering, gleaming with light that moves through time and space, filtered through my own mind, connected to my life and to what came before and to what will come next, infused with meaning, living luminous, dangerous, lighted from within."
Kathleen Dean More, Riverwalking

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lake Moods & Memories

Just a few days of respite at a friend's secluded camp. That's all it took. No electricity, technology, noise, people, agendas, chores. Just being. And coming to know the lake, its textures and sounds, its creatures and moods. I am contentedly human again.

We sat, quietly, my husband and I...allowing our minds to rest. Conversation was scarce and words seemed almost an intrusion as we wrapped ourselves in the comfortable silence that comes from years of intimacy.

Even Callie-dog, after her initial exuberance and joy of being here subsided, was content to lie quietly and become acquainted with the smells that drifted her way.

Sometimes I swam to the raft with my notebook and let my thoughts float onto the page. Sometimes I dozed, lulled by lake rhythms, my mind light, empty and hollow.

Glorious leisure and silence. I realized how much I had craved this space, this pause in the intense busyness that has become my life. Silence is a gift we rarely give ourselves, something we wish for, yet somehow never find time to pursue.

Sometimes a curtain was lifted, allowing us briefly to see the life and drama that ebbs and flows here, whether we bear witness to it or not.

The large and small of it...

As each day passed, a steady sun arched over the lake, from east to west, and we swam when the mood struck: in the languorous silk of early morning, in the high heat of noon, in the long shadows of eve. We floated, splashed, dove, paddled without purpose, just responding to the nudging of desire.

One afternoon, we watched in awe as a line of great billowing clouds moved across the sky. We waited for the lightning in the distance, silently counting the seconds until the crack of thunder.

And then the storm was upon us with great fervor and noise and urgency, sending blankets of rain rippling and blowing across the surface of the lake like drifts of snow over a frozen surface...and just as suddenly as it came, it moved on...

...leaving a special gift in the quiet aftermath...our own private rainbow.

And with the approach of a glorious clear evening, the stillness enveloped us again.

And we sat, watching the moon rise and the colours shift and slide, merge and mellow, then sink into the cool mauves of evening...and the landscape spoke and the night became a living thing with the hum of insects, the perpetual warble of persistent frogs, the melodies of robins and calls of the waxwings, each one trying to out-sing the other.

Reluctantly, we drifted off to bed, sorry to see the end of day, but comforted in the certainty that morning would bring more light and swellings of the heart, more gemstones to treasure.

And I wondered, in years to come, what I would remember best about these the magic would touch me and coax me, perhaps, to a different choice...or how the memory might sustain me, perhaps through loss or sorrow...or how I might revisit the joy and silence and closeness, again and again.