Monday, August 15, 2011

one last note from Eureka Springs

I ran out of coffee beans two days ago when I invited Chere for a lunch of mushroom/cheddar omelettes, in the culinary suite at DairyHollow. Her suite has a practical electric stove, whereas my KitchenAid Dream Kitchen has a six-burner gas stove, pans, and everything a cook could wish for. So we cooked and brewed coffee, and sat in the wicker chairs talking—like it was my fabulous living room.

So today, I found some old ground coffee in the canister above the KitchenAid coffee maker, and it will do. Made a big bowl of oatmeal as my final “hurrah” breakfast (hours ago) and now I’m cleaning up the fresh cherries and blueberries. In a few minutes, I will walk to the Grotto Spring down the road, and the lovely silence of morning will be broken. When I return, I must clean and pack and look at the instructions for checkout and leaving. I will need to go downstairs to the office and talk with people. I’m surprised how much I long to keep this silence for just a few hours more, even after eight very quiet days.

What this writing residency has given me is just that: quiet, for reading and writing and hearing myself think, and a quieting of the soul. I’ve written dozens of pages, and I’ve revisited some work from the past few years. I’ve enjoyed research about cooking writers MFK Fisher and Robert Farrar Capon—I hoped to come away with a draft of a book about these two, but I’ve only ever written much about me and my life, so I’m still learning how to approach a long project about other people’s lives and work. I’m certain this is a problem I WILL solve, over time, and meanwhile I’ve been nurturing my love of the two books I’m comparing.

(I picked up a biography of Fisher at the library, and it told me some of the details I wanted to know about her life, but these details were stuffed deep into a veritable encyclopedia of facts and family maps and awkward reading. Okay, I invested a day and a half in that fat book, to find out three or four important things, but I’m saying it was worthwhile research.)  

Some part of me wishes I could hold up a finished manuscript to show for this stretch of days, but the finishing will come later. This has been a time of renewal, a reminder of my calling to write. It’s been a rest, a Sabbath from my other kinds of work. A Sabbath from people needing me. Whatever I’ve accomplished or not-accomplished, I will return home restored by this quiet, clean temporary home, and restored by this vibrant little city in the hills.

I could tell you more about how much I love this town, but I’d better walk before the day heats up, and I’d better pack, so I can relax, read and write a bit more this afternoon.

Thanks for sticking with me, my friends. I will be far from the Ozark hills when next I write.

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