Years ago I found a birthday card for one of my sisters that said, on the outside, “Time flies....” Inside it said, “whether you’re having fun or not.” How many times over the years have those words come unbidden to my thoughts? It’s a good reminder, though. None of us has more than twenty-four hours a day. Sleeping and working and life’s little maintenance chores take up a lot of time, and if you let them, those activities could absorb all your time.
It had been almost two weeks since I’d spent any time “hanging around with” (as David says) my fictional characters, and I was missing the Wild Man and the Dog Wife, whose story has been evolving in my novel-in-progress since last winter’s sabbatical in the Southwest, so Wednesday morning I carved out some free time, and we got together again. Bruce opened the bookstore for me, and I did not go in until almost noon. That felt good.
But it also felt good later to be at the bookstore, especially on Wednesday afternoon, when a gratifying number of people made time for poetry.
With my helper Bruce still on duty at the sales counter, I was able to take time myself to sit in the audience and enjoy the event. Jennifer Clark read work from her published book, Necessary Clearings, as well as a couple of the 56 poems she has written on John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) and that era of American history, but before her reading began, she was already in conversation with early arrivals over questions about poetry in general and her writing process in particular, and questions and discussion picked up again following her presentation. The questions were excellent, the conversation stimulating. Jennifer was happy, and so was I. Others were, as well. One e-mail I received this morning warmed my heart:
Pamela, I really enjoyed your event yesterday and thank you so much for presenting Jennifer Clark. I don't know if I ever would have met her and her work without an introduction from you! A delightful woman and a wonderful collection of poems. I am now her fan.
Thank you, Deb, and everyone else who attended Wednesday’s event, for making time for poetry in your life this summer, and thanks from all of us to Jennifer Clark for being our lovely, lively guest! You can read more about Jennifer and her writing here.
Then last night our intrepid Ulysses reading group gathered at the home of our Fearless Leader and his wife to discuss East of Eden. It isn’t easy for eight people to find room in busy summer schedules for an evening of literary conversation, but we managed it and, flushed with triumph, have agreed to meet again in August and to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin between now and then. It’s the first year we’ve tried to make time to get together between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Clearly, we all find the effort worthwhile.
This morning I took time to have my first cup of coffee outdoors, where I could sit back and enjoy my garden flowers to the accompaniment of birdsong. When I opened the front door, Sarah rushed out to chase a rabbit into tall grass but gave up the chase in less than a minute and contented herself with taking up chipmunk patrol in the shade near my lawn chair. Chipmunk patrol for Sarah is lying in the grass and watching, not obsessively but casually. Sometimes she doesn’t even bother to move when a chipmunk appears.
I think Sarah on chipmunk patrol is giving herself permission to take time out and soak up the delicious atmosphere of Michigan summer. I know that’s what I’m doing when I take the time to make the time for reading or writing or -- listening to someone else read to me. Ah-h-h!