Sunday, October 24, 2010

Writing while running...

Yesterday morning while running, in an attempt to take my mind off the fact my body did not feel like running, I started using words to paint pictures of the things I ran by on the gorgeous fall day. Here’s some of what I wrote in my head.

I love the mums right now, as they unashamedly flash their radiant color.  Soon the brown will arrive and rob them of this color, but right now the day is all theirs. This is the moment they’ve waited for all summer – growing,  anticipating the future, waiting for their turn, and now look at them – deep dark reds, shimmering yellows, rich burnt oranges — this is the beauty they were created for.  
The air is heavy with incoming rain, when I breathe in deeply, I can taste it. The clouds are thick as they blanket the earth from the heavens above. Yet, there not far from the horizon, there is a break in the clouds and the sun beams push their way through to the earth below. The spot in the sky is entrancing, and while it is hazy, I find I can’t take my eyes off it, and yet, it’s so bright, I can’t really focus on it either. I find myself lost in the mystery of sunbeams.
Wow, bright purple, what a pleasant surprise to find among the majesty of these fall colors.  Thousands of tiny daisy-like flowers, all clumped together, giving the appearance of an entire purple bush rather than a simple plant. Amazing how I probably wouldn’t of noticed one tiny flower all by itself, but when they join together, the beauty they create is nothing short of astounding.
Look at those maples. The outside of the tree is kissed with the sun, leaving crimson red all around the edge. Just past the crimson is a glimpse of bright orange, which quickly gives way to a brilliant yellow. Then there, tucked in the middle of the tree are the brightest lime green leaves.  It’s almost as if a rainbow has jumped into the tree itself and the two have become one.  Then holding it all together are rich dark brown limbs, still wet from the rain that fell last night. As if that wasn’t breathtaking enough, the sun shone thru the backside of the tree, leaving a thousand sparkling pinpoints of light breaking through to create something so picture perfect, I knew no one could ever paint it, even if they tried.

Monday, October 4, 2010

100 Word Stories

There is a writing contest to write a 100 word story. Here's one of the four ideas I wrote. I'm going to enter a couple others in the competition.

With deliberate focus, each foot reached for the next ladder rung. Higher and higher she climbed. Her hands barely grasping the railing as fear shook her from within.  Her purpose in attempting this kept her moving forward.  Finally, she reached the top and shuffled to the board’s end.  With her daughters watching her, she hesitated only a second and then jumped. Falling, falling, falling, wondering if she’d ever land — then splash! Her body shook as she pushed her way back to the surface. A full smile on her face.  She’d faced her fears. Now could her daughters face theirs? 

Michigan Summer

I wrote this on vacation this summer. I might try and get it published in a travel magazine sometime.

In the middle of the lake, I experienced a Michigan summer. 
On a recent visit to Michigan, the land of my birth and childhood, I jumped at the chance to try out one of my dad’s new kayaks. On a small, quiet, lake tucked away in the back of one of the state parks, my dad took my girls out in the canoe, while my husband and I climbed into the kayaks.  They all quickly took off towards the other side of the lake.  While I, on the other hand, went at a much slower pace.
Splissshhh, splissshhh, splissshhh, splissshhh, the oars quietly and without urgency, hit the water.  The sun hung just above the treetops, faithfully setting and bringing this day to an end. There in the middle of the lake, I stopped. I breathed in that crisp Michigan air and felt a contented sigh release in response.
The lake held a beauty that captivated me.  The stillness of the moment invited me to stay. I had forgotten how clear Michigan waters were. I could see several yards down into the water, to where the bright green plants reached for the sunlight.  Occasionally, a small bluegill would swim by and disappear under the kayak.  I reached my hand down and touched the water – cold, refreshing, if it had been earlier in the day, it would have been perfect for a swim. 
I decided to paddle over near the edge of the lake, where I ran into a sea of lily pads. The brilliance of their greenness caught my attention and I enjoyed the simple beauty of their white flowers floating there in the water.  The trees along the edge held a warm glow of the setting sun.
As I turned around and looked across the lake, I could see the silhouettes of some kids jumping off a dock. I heard my own daughters scream as grandpa ran them into some cattails.  I noticed my husband off exploring the lake at his own pace.  I set off in their direction.
Heading that way, I noticed several small birds ascending on the lake, swooping down, grabbing the water bugs off the surface of the water. Too numerous to count, I couldn’t follow one if I tried. 
Closing my eyes, and paddling forward, I could feel the air cooling off as it brushed my face. Somewhere in the distance I heard birds calling to one another from the treetops.  Breathing in, I smelled purity, that fragrance of nature that could never be captured in a bottle. 
With eyes wide open again, I began to notice the water reflecting the glow of the setting sun. Blues, oranges and pinks floated on the water’s surface. If I looked further out, I could see the reflection of the few puffy white clouds that were part of the picturesque sky above. 
The dragonflies fluttered about, landing on the edge of my kayak.  I whispered to them secret messages to deliver to my husband. Who in return, upon receiving their messages, would whisper messages for them to fly back to me.
I sat there, in awe at the beauty surrounding me, committing it all to memory, begging for it to remain a part of my soul even after I must leave.  
I finally caught up with the rest of them, enjoying the girl’s stories, especially that of grandpa running them into the cattails.  The sun now set, we made our way back to dock.  My heart was full, knowing that out in the middle of the lake, I had somehow captured a Michigan summer deep within. 

Birthday Celebration

This is a short story I wrote for my sister. It is a creative fiction piece (with a few strands of truth mingled in) honoring the day she blessed my life with her presence.

            Janie forced her eyelids open, even though she longed to still be lost in the depth of her dreams.

“I wish you didn’t have to be so wrestless,” Janie jokingly chastised, while rubbing her bulging belly with both hands.  Anxious to meet this child growing within her, she tried to not be discouraged with the doctor’s report yesterday – two more weeks to go.  

            Thankful for the distraction this Independence Day held, Janie managed to slide her feet over the side of the bed and sit up. 

She loved the feelings this day held — she truly loved America and felt such pride for living in a country so wonderful and free.  During the fireworks, belting out the song God Bless America, land that I love, came easy for her because it was exactly how she felt in her heart.  A day of gratitude, a day the entire country came together to celebrate the great birth of this nation. Since this year was the 200th birthday of the country, today’s July 4th held even more promise of grandness.

            Before she knew it, her oldest daughter would be awake. She looked forward to viewing the fireworks tonight through her two-year old daughter’s eyes. Since becoming a mom, she cherished the joy of seeing the world around her through the precious eyes of her daughter. She pushed her weary body out of bed, as she had food to prepare for the picnic at her in-laws this evening.

            Later that afternoon, with her salad made, they made their way over to Janie’s parents, stopping by to briefly say hello.  On her way, she felt the first pains of labor.

Oh no, those stupid Braxton Hicks contractions, Janie grumbled in her thoughts as she sought to breathe through the pain.  Distracting herself from the sharpness in her belly, she forced her mind to focus on the fun they would have this afternoon hanging out at her in-laws. 

She could see it now — cold, sticky watermelon juice dripping off the chin of her daughter. She closed her eyes, reminding herself to breathe, as she smelled the smoky burgers her brother-in-laws would soon be charring on the grill.  As she exhaled, she imagined savoring those cold side salads her mother-in-law certainly whipped up.  She pictured laughter and teasing and good wholesome fun shared by all.

            The evening indeed held all those memories, and more. Throughout the afternoon into the evening, she continued to feel contractions.   In years past, they walked down to Bailey Park to enjoy the fireworks on-site, but this year she decided it best to enjoy the fireworks at her in-laws, in the comfort of her chair.  

Fortunately, the distance did not deter from the magnificent display of fireworks commemorating America’s 200th birthday celebration.  Brilliant colors filled the sky — the typical red, white and blue, along with greens and golds. The fireworks that seemed to pop out of the night sky and slowly, like a waterfall, pour down to earth, were her favorite.  She loved listening to the loud booms which, even from this distance, shook the ground under her.  She loved hearing the fireworks crackle, like bacon sizzling on the stove, or rain bouncing off a tin roof.  Paired with the fact that her contractions were becoming more intense and closer together, this Fourth of July would be a day not soon forgotten.

            “Hey Hon,” Janie leaned over to her husband, “I think this baby might be coming tonight. I think we should see if your parents can keep Catie for awhile, so I can get checked out at the hospital, just to be safe.”

            “Are you sure? Tonight?  Okay, well, check with my mom and let me know when you are ready to go.” 

            Janie struggled out of the chair, anxious to pack up their stuff and head out before her next contraction.   With Catie resting at her in-laws, they made their way to the hospital.  Sure enough, just as Janie expected, labor had indeed begun.  She hoped this would be a k labor. Perhaps her daughter might even still be born before midnight, in order to share a birthday with America.  In spite of her hopes, a painful, intense, back labor continued throughout the night.  Finally, after the sun rose above the horizon, their beautiful daughter entered this world. 

            However, panic quickly filled Janie as she watched five medics surround her silent newborn. “What’s wrong?” she screamed.  “Will someone please tell me what’s going on?”

Before they could answer, like the fireworks that exploded the silence of night, she heard the beautiful cry of her daughter cut through the silence of that hospital room. Indeed, the cry of her daughter proved more glorious than even the most amazing fireworks.  Her daughter had arrived — alive, safe, and warm.  Janie’s new daughter would not be sharing a birthday with this ‘land of the free and this home of the brave’ after all.  Rather, their little ‘firecracker’ would have her own beautiful day to celebrate – July 5th, 1976.