My son Ben and I drove up to the Adirondacks to spend a week with my parents at Camp. It was the first time in 20 years that they weren't essentially coming to visit me; the first time I didn't live up here, there, in the Adirondacks.
It felt bizarre driving through the woods that I know so well, but it not being my home. A year ago, I would have said that I'd always be here, always be an Adirondacker.
I think I will be ... the connection is too strong to severed by virtue of my mailing address.
I can feel the roads and paths and ponds and swamps all around me, as I drive and walk and paddle; just as with my fictional character Tyler Cunningham, I can see the map of places and events and feelings at all times, making me feel grounded, even in a place that's no longer quite home.
While I was driving yesterday, we turned off the Northway at exit 29, and cut through a particularly quiet part of the park between the open grave of Frontier Town and the sleepy near-nothing of Newcomb, so we could stop at a market my mother loves in Tupper Lake for meat for the grill (my specialty and primary duty when at camp). I took a shortcut at one point on an unmarked road that my GPS didn't show, and my son asked how I knew where to go.
It was odd, trying to explain ... the map, or directional markers/beacons in my head. I've read about pigeons having small magnetized pellets in their head, which help them homing; it must be the same with me.
Ben and I were the first to arrive at camp yesterday afternoon, as we normally are (I hate being late, and like being at the lake, and so it goes), and we spent the next few hours in a gentle and accustomed process of putting away too much food, hugging it out with family as they arrived, smelling the woods and water, swimming with dogs, going to bed at a ridiculously early hour.
This morning, I was the first up (another camp tradition), and sitting on the outside steps with my first cup of coffee (note the descriptor 'first'), I thought about my place in the world ... my new place in the world.
I live in New Hampshire ... what a strange quintet of words. I'm an Adirondacker, I write Adirondack mysteries, how can I live in New Hampshire?
The answer is, of course, that place is temporary and temporal. I live in New Hampshire, but the Adirondacks live in me. I have a perfect record of my version of the Park in my head, complete with sights and sounds and smells and tastes and the way it all feels (weak sun on pale skin, lakewater drying off me absent a towel, picnic grit in the bite of a sandwich ... all of it).
My mail goes to a house in Westmoreland, New Hampshire, but when I'm asleep (or awake) and dreaming of Tyler, my mind goes to these woods, these waters, these dark and lonely places that first grabbed my soul when I was six months old.
It's not my home, but it's something big, something important, something that will be in me wherever I am, wherever I live.
Anyway, enough meandering/maunderingfor the moment ... SmartPig and I are moving forward, in either place (really in both). The summer has been busy and disruptive, both physically and mentally, but now I'm ready to get back to the work (and play) of writing.
- I'm working on a collection of short pieces that I hope to release in January
- I'm starting work on a book about food and cooking (nearly a cookbook, but not quite, both more and less)
- I'm having fun building the world and people and rules for magic in the world of "Oasis", the high-fantasy novel I'll be writing over the winter
- A few Tyler Cunningham stories are still kicking around in my head, and may find their way out this winter ... either as novellas, or in the form of an outline for a novel
- I'm producing a podcast, the first episode of which should be out later this week
Thanks for waiting, and I'll see you in the woods!