…knows that I am the sworn enemy of white tail deer. Each summer I spend crazy amounts of money for foul-smelling stuff that I spray on my lilies, hostas, roses, dahlias (actually I gave up on dahliahs) and increasingly on plants that used to make the deer turn up their little dark noses. Zinnias–if they begin to like zinnias, it’s all over.
But now that it’s January and the ground is buried beneath half a foot of snow, I see them in the yard and have to wonder what they are living on. I watch them paw up the snow and nibble, arc their necks and nibble, but can they possibly get enough? And aren’t they freezing? I read that they can slow their metabolisms, and that they have special muscles in their skin that let them angle their hair shafts to best advantage (say what??) But still. The other morning, before I’d had my coffee or found my glasses, I looked out and briefly wondered, How did that lovely big rock get in my garden? How sleek they make themselves, legs tucked under, heads resting on their backs. When they get up, they leave an oval hollow, just the right size for a grandchild to curl up in and pretend to be a sleeping bear.
I’ll resume my war come spring, but for now, the deer and I are both just doing our best to get through this cold, worrisome winter.
Helping me this week: the couch, the comforter, these books: Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin; Lost & Found, by Kathryn Schulz; Amber and Clay, by Lauren Amy Schulz; Middlemarch, by George Eliot. A sip of red wine helps, too.
Yesterday I finished the copy edits and hit SEND on my new middle grade novel, coming this November with Margaret Ferguson Books, Holiday House. LOOKING FOR TRUE is my first book with a boy main character, and my first time writing from alternating points of view (I sort of did it in EVERY SINGLE SECOND, but one of the characters was a graveyard monument, so I’m not sure that counts).
Changes will still be made (I revise books up till the absolute last moment) but TRUE has its own autonomy now. It lives and breathes, a story that feels inevitable and whole. Gladys and Jude no longer live just inside my head or under my tapping fingers. They still need me, but they don’t act as if they do. Anyone who’s raised children and sent them out into the world will know how complicated my feelings are!
The world brims with sorrow and uncertainty. Our family is recovering from two members having Covid–relatively mild cases but serious enough. I’ve got three grandbabies too young to be vaccinated, and every day feels like taking a chance and hoping for the best.
Something New. What a privilege, what a necessity, to keep creating.
I’ve never been good at New year’s stuff. I hate all the looking back, the year in photographs or quotes or cartoons, the best-of-lists (except of course when one of my books is listed–can you say hypocrite?).
And it’s been several decades since I made resolutions, which have come to seem horribly self-conscious and even silly. When there’s something in my life I want or need to change, I already know it in my bones–there’s no need to commit the desire to paper.
Maybe I feel all this even more strongly than usual, since it has been such a shapeless, blighted, holey-old-sweater of a year, and since 2022 could easily be written ???? What can we predict? Next to nothing.
Except this—the world’s children will continue to grow and question, bloom and seek, cry and laugh, stumble yet scramble up again. And I will keep on writing for them, writing the best books I can summon up from all I’ve learned of life and all I hope will come. Some of my favorite lines in The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe come near the end, as Loah (oh how I love Loah!) drifts off to sleep listening to the northern mocking bird sing outsider her window. “Opening her eyes for a moment, she saw a single moonbeam, white as a snow goose feather, tumble over the lovely dark wall of trees. The world was big and the world was small and that was the mystery of it. The mystery and the wonder and …The mockingbird sang Loah off to sleep.”
Our new year is here– the reminiscing and resolving can giving way to the business of getting up, greeting the day, getting to the work. Wishing you a year full of mystery and wonder!