Lois Lowry's Blog
Here's the back lawn at sunrise on an early September morning. This is the best time of year here with the tourists gone home (I know I know, I'm a "summer person"myself) though it means the Lobster Pound has closed for the season and the summer theater is dark now as well. Birds are still singing (and cawing) early in the morning, and flowers are still blooming in the gardens, but somehow things are quieter, slower, as Summer winds down and Fall moves in.
I hated writing those three words. End of Summer. As it always does, it has gone by too quickly. I am here in Maine for 10 more days, alone now after company coming and going for the past three weeks, catching up now on neglected writing, and starting to put the house to sleep for the winter: ACs out of the windows; Adirondack chairs off the lawn and into the barn; Furnace Guy coming for Fall furnace cleaning; Exterminator Guy coming with his ward-off-mice methods. (I feel them gathering outside, preparing their attack: "You three dozen over there, you get in under the garage door and head for the laundry room"; "You twelve big guys, you enter through a basement window, then go directly to the pantry; start with the box of Bisquick; gnaw on the lower corner" etc. etc.)
...and for Kay, and Mara, and Middy, and Jean, and Susan...all women friends who are coming up to Maine this week for a visit. It is the height of blueberry season and these came from a twenty-minute stint out in the field behind my house.
Last weekend, in Maine, I began hearing sounds in an unused chimney that runs behind the kitchen stove. At one time, obviously, there had been a woodstove there because there is still a (covered) opening where a stovepipe had once been connected. I was afraid, though, to take that cover off because I was afraid an entire family of trapped squirrels would leap out at me if I did. The noise...chirping, chittering, skittering...was periodically very loud, other times completely silent. Finally I called Tom, my exterminator, who previously had had to deal here only with the ubiquitous mice, plus once with powder-post beetles in the barn. He said he'd come Friday.
I have actually been at my desk today for six hours straight, working, writing, with only a few internet excursions...one, to look at trips to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), a place I have always dreamed of going. Most people say, "you want to go WHERE?" but finally I have a friend who says she'll go with me if we can both find the time, etc. My own schedule is pretty self-defined because I am self-employed, but of course I have a ton of conferences and speaking engagements on my calendar. And my partner-in-crime is a university professor so she has to work around that. But I bet we can do it...sometime....if we put our minds to it.
OKay, this is procrastination of the worst kind. I should be working. But I sat down early this morning with a cup of coffee and the local weekly small town paper. And the NY Times, as well; I went to the store at 7 AM, when it opens, to get the Times; I can't get it delivered here, the way I do at home. But somehow on a summer morning in rural Maine, it is the local paper that holds my interest.
I saw off my German family last night at the airport....Nadine, age fourteen, goes back school early in August, I hope with some very happy memories of Montana. She was practically glued to the saddle; on our last day there, she rode 17 miles on a trail in West Yellowstone. Now she says she prefers Western style to English, which she has ridden since she was six, but it would be tough to find Western type riding in Germany.
Today I drove back to Maine with Alfie....one of the worst drives I've ever had up here: torrential rain all the way. Usually a 3 hour trip, it took close to four and a half. But here we are, and happy to be here, although it is still pouring and Alfie does not want to go outside.
Yesterday afternoon, here in Montana, my two grandsons and I hunkered down by the small stream that flows past my cabin. Using stones and twigs and sticks and plants, we built a miniature village with a wall around it, a sacred gate, a totem pole, two dwellings, a fire circle, and a path to the huge river, over which we built a bridge. We composed a chant involving the village crane (he was paper origami, nesting in a tree we had built from a forked stick) and then, chanting, we flew him to the river and let him sail away on its waves.
I have been in Montana for this past week, with children and grandchildren...and laptop...thinking I would get some work done (WRONG) while they were all off riding, etc...but instead it is all I can do to answer my email each morning.
Last weekend I was over on the coast of Maine, visiting my friend Middy, and she and I went to The Gallery at Widgeon Cove in Harpswell, home and gallery of very gifted artists Condon and Georgeann Kuhl. Here's a snapshot of the view from their front garden, and another of the pendant made by Condon which I bought. Their website is http://www.widgeoncove.com/
Yesterday---Sunday----we took the grandsons, 7 and 9, up to the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire by the steam-and-coal operated cog railway. Mt, Washington, at 6000+ feet, is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi and has a reputation for brutal weather in winter. My friend Monroe Couper, a composer who shared a residency with me (and others) at the MacDowell Colony in 1980-81, died on Mt. Washington in the winter of 1994---froze to death when climbing in terrible weather. But on a summer day it seems benign, even at the top, and the view over the Presidential Range is spectacular.From our property in Maine we can see it, in clear weather, in the distance: snow-capped through June, usually. One startling thing yesterday was that our train car contained several Hassidic families, the little boys with their side curls, mothers with their heads covered...fathers with beards, black suits, and fringed prayer shawls over their shirts and under their vests. In addition...and very startling...was an Elvis impersonator. All of this made a mountaineering expedition seem a bit like a Fellini movie. I kept expecting nuns and dwarves to show up.
Because I was off on the mountain trip, I did not hear the NPR interview with me that was on yesterday but I heard this morning from a number of listeners. They did a nice job of editing (I listened to it this morning by going to the NPR website) but took out the funny dispute Liane Hanson and I had about the pronunciation of "wizened."
A couple of years ago I planted wildflower seeds across the border between my mowed lawn and my meadow..
This morning I answered an email from a teacher who is about to start using "Number the Stars" with a group of boys and wondered if I had any additional information that would enhance the experience for them. I suggested that he? she? (can't remember) research Kim Malthe-Bruun, the young resistance fighter who was executed in Denmark by the Nazis, and who was the model for Peter in the book.
(1) Kim Malthe-Bruun, letter to Hanne about his experiences of being tortured by the Gestapo (3rd March, 1945)...
My friend, writer Kathryn Lasky, lives in Cambridge, as I do, and summers in Maine, as I do, but quite a distance from me. Recently she emailed me a photo of a piece of sculpture made of found objects - created by a sculptor who lives near her in Deer Isle. Kathy is the author of the owl series: The Guardians of Ga'Hoole (which I may have spelled wrong, Sorry, Kathy) so her owl sculpture is quite appropriate.
She was terrified. Until Kuzo laughed at her from the bedroom.
Pileated woodpecker in the apple tree. Evening grosbeak on the bird feeder. Two wild turkeys just strutting around. An average day.
Now that I am back from New York, the play is off and running and in the hands of the two directors, Stan Foote in Oregon and Jeff Frank in Milwaukee This morning Jeff sent me sketches of set design and costumes..all of the behind-the-scenes, before-the-show stuff is so interesting! The final readings in New York went smoothly and the audiences at the three performances had lots of comments. Me, I can see how it begins to come together and jumps off the page and into a whole other realm. I'll see the final version in its opening in Milwaukee September 19th, and then...different version...in Portland in late October.
Well, this is irreverent, I know. But I am picturing an interview show in the afterlife, with host Tim Russert having two guests: Tasha Tudor and George Carlin.