It has been hard to write my coming home post. Not because I am sad to be home, but because I needed time to process the changes in my environment and life.
Texas is beautiful. It is spring here in a way that it won’t be in Vermont for two more months. The air is warm and moist, enough so that we turned the air conditioning on last night. That probably seems excessive to those of you who live up North, but trust me, we weren’t being wusses! Of course, since we turned it on the weather has cool down. I actually put on a sweatshirt jacket this evening.
The deciduous trees have begun to green up ever so slightly. They have a haze of yellow green around them like an aura. If you get up close, you can see the tiny leaves beginning to bud out. The pine trees are dropping pollen. Our cars, which we park near a great big pine tree in our front yard, have a golden sheen. Thankfully, no one at our house has pine allergies; people who do are all miserable right now.
The very best tree in Houston in the spring is the Mountain Laurel. Vivid purple flowers cover them, tiny blossoms that smell like heaven. I haven’t gotten close enough to one yet this year to inhale its perfume, but I plan to. Along with the sweet smell, Mountain Laurels also offer a distinctive sound – the buzz-buzz-buzzing of bees in the flowers.
One of my neighbors has a big Mountain Laurel in their backyard that I see from my kitchen window. The Mountain Laurel is my favorite tree. My favorite bush is the forsythia. It has gorgeous yellow flowers. What can I say? I am a sucker for flowering trees and shrubs.
Mountain Laurel Aside: I tried to grow a Mountain Laurel, but failed. They require special soil amendments. I can’t remember at the moment if it’s alkali or acid, but it is the same as azaleas. I did amend the soil for the little tree I planted. That didn’t seem to do the trick. Although the neighbor boys playing soccer and running over it probably didn’t help. Even when I put a fence around the tree, it just didn’t thrive. I got one season’s worth of seedpods before the tree died, which I harvested. I’ve been thinking about trying to grow one from seed. We’ll see.
Now, back to Vermont. My month at the Vermont Studio Center changed me as a writer by giving me the opportunity to focus on and refine my studio practice. This is such an important concept, yet something I never consciously thought about or ever discussed with anyone. Many artists at the Studio Center talked about their studio practice. We had one talk – by Brenda Hillman – about how her spiritual practice and studio practice intersect. The topic fascinated me. I had already concluded before I went to VSC that I needed a private space for my work. Now I understand why.
A place to create and time to create. Have your tools ready to go so that when you sit down, the work can flow out of you. That’s how I wrote over 40,000 words during my four weeks at VSC. I just kept sitting down to work at a desk that had all my tools ready to go. Is it that simple? I’m going to find out, aren’t I?
There is more to say about VSC and about being home. I will try to get it all said, although not tonight. I decided that my first week back would be transitional and that I would get back to my writing practice the second week. Today is the first day of the second week and I showed up at my new studio space ready to work. I am proud of myself for that. A small victory.
I also promised myself that I would get to bed at a reasonable time at night so that I could get up in the mornings and get to work, so now I will bid you adieu.
Monday, March 13, 2006
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