Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to Mend the Memory

When I was a kid, dusty roads had a smell like burnt rubber that I could hardly stand.  It filtered up in great beige clouds, swirling behind the car, drawing in through tiny cracks and the open windows of our big white station wagon.  The three of us kids sat in the backseat...and if my stepbrother came along, and perhaps some friends, we filled the way back too.  Of course, this was  before mandatory seat belts and air conditioning.  So with the windows down, buldging inner-tubes flubbering on the roof, we barreled along dirt roads north of Spokane, heading for my grandparents house where they lived at Diamond Lake.

Recently, I barreled into the mountains in my airconditioned Subaru to a trail head leading to Skyline Divide.  As a warrior princess I always think I can do more than I can do...I'm getting up there in years, see I was born in 1951.  Anyway, I carried a pack up the mountain, only 3.5 miles, but with an elevation gain of 3000 feet...more or less.  Yikes, I was half-dead by the time I arrived!  My great idea was to watch the Percuid metero showers at 1 a.m.  This I succeeded in doing, crawling out of the tent during the wee hours to watch an amazine articulate sky cast streaming meteors in firey arcs.  The count was upward of 60 per hour.  Then, in wee-wee hours, the moon came up in a fiery orange crescent.  Indeed nature is awesome.

Nancy with Mt. Baker at Skyline Divide
Now I'm vacuuming the dust off my car as mist falls lightly.  It's silty and shifting on the back bumper.  I don't care about this dust, much, as the rain will probably wash it off, but my hiking partner is more prime when it comes to car there you have it, soon I had a spiffy clean car ready for the next adventure, a hike up to Park Butte Lookout, 3.5 miles and 2000 elevation gain.  Tomorrow I'm heading to 6000 feet to get a here and now experience for my new memoir based on two summers manning (or womaning) a fire lookout tower back in the 70s.

This is a great writing technique...go to the actual place or one similar to what you are writing about.  Our memories are great in creating place...but actual place can be even better.  Perhaps the horse flies have been left out of the lake scene...or the choking billows of dry dirt road that smells like...? or fields of wild flowers that smell sweet as the allyssum your mother planted when you were a kid.

My mission is to support writers in discovering and conveying their deepest stories through writing.  Please call for classes or private mentoring, editing, and workshops:  360-710-7139.

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