Monday, January 7, 2013

A Winter Walk Revelation (also, RIP 'Parkly Deer)

Evidently, the squirrels had
a more eventful New Year's than I did.
It'd been a while since I'd ventured out for an afternoon walk. Why? Cuz it's January and it's friggin' cold outside. Well. At least it's friggin' cold in my imagination.

Alack, the dog seems to be adding a layer of flab that is sure to earn disapproving looks from the vet (what? It's not my fault he decided to jump on the counter and eat half a bagel today. Or that he scarfed down a plate of macaroni and cheese last week) if you ask me, a little personal responsibility is in order. 

As for me -- well, something has to be done to halt my asses'* new-found insistence that it rendezvous with my ankles.

So when the sun winked at me as the girls woke up from their afternoon nap and my phone told me the temperature outside was 40 degrees I decided today was a great day for a Winter Walk**.

Of course, prepare for said Winter Walk was not nearly as whimsical or poetic. First, I had to broach the topic with Lily, who despite the fact that she enjoys going for walks once we're on the move, erupts like Vesuvius at the mere mention of one. 

True to form, when I told her we were going on a walk, she immediately began crying and begged me to read "Clifford's Birthday Party"*** instead. I calmed her down with the promise of chocolate milk and the chance to wear her beloved princess boots

Then came the next hurdle: Dressing the girls for the Winter Walk, which involved additional layers, mittens, hats, and coats designed to render arms useless (unless, of course, their use is to stick straight out to the side like a scarecrow). 

With both girls crying in discomfort at their lack of peripheral vision and inability to move in any direction except straight ahead, I put on my coat, grabbed some doggie do bags, mixed the chocolate milk, put the leash on Snacks and wrassled the girls into the stroller -- which bears a remarkable resemblance to the Oldsmobile station wagon we had growing up, especially when it comes to speed, heft and maneuverability. 

As you can see, Lily was still not sold on the walk:

This is bullshit!****
Once we made it out of the driveway she calmed down and starting chattering about the airplanes she could hear flying overhead (it was remarkable she could hear anything over the dogs incessant barking ... at nothing).

By now you might be wondering why I'm writing about this little adventure -- and you're definitely wondering why you're reading about it. 

Here's where the walks and the writing intersect. It was on walks years ago minus the stroller and two kids, but with the same obnoxious canine, that I started thinking about my novel. And it was especially walks during in late fall and winter -- where the sun is low and the air splashes your face like cold water -- that really helped frame the mood for the story. 

It's on a cold November day that Eleanor finds the dead man -- no accident as a plot point -- and inspired by the many early morning walks I used to take with Snacks (well, Snacks and I never found any dead guys).

Today, as the sun played peek-a-boo behind dusty, gray clouds and the last leaves clinging to naked branches fluttered in the near-stillness, I thought about the novel again and about the role seasons played in our lives. And I came up with a solution for a problem that's been bugging me about the story: How much time passes from beginning to end? 

I'd had a series of scenes in my head that were to play out over a period of time -- I guess I thought maybe a year -- but part of my hangup about writing it was how to fill that year. I mean, I know I don't need to account for every day, but I do need to make use of the year, right? Like, if you say you're going to need a year to finish a project, you mean that whatever it is you're undertaking will take a significant number of days and hours of your life such that a week, or a month or six months isn't enough time to complete it. 

I've never written a novel before and I'm attacking this from the viewpoint of a journalist who generally knows what happens in the story before they sit down to write it. But I don't know what's going to happen. I have an idea of some scenes and an ending, but I'm not certain how to get from one to the other. And I think what's holding me back is this idea that I was dealing with a few days worth of plot stretched out over a year's worth of digression (I know. Me digress? Impossible!). 

I suppose a lot of this would work itself out if I actually just wrote the damn thing already (but then what would the point of me blogging about writing about it be?!). But one thing that did work itself out during the walk today was how much time I was dealing with -- and I think what needs to happen can happen in a season: three months. And that one season will be useful thematically as well. 

And all the sudden what has seemed impossible for so many months -- actually finishing the novel -- seems possible.

Thank you Winter Walk.


Some other notes from today's jaunt:

The squirrels are excited about playoffs (or bowl games?)

I had such high hopes for 'Parkly Deer since he'd been righted after more than a year of lying on his side. But it looks as if he's down for the count again.

Like a scene out of "Bambi."

* Sorry mom.
** As you have no doubt noted, a Winter Walk is really no different than any other walk, and not at all deserving of being capitalized. 
*** Frickin' "Clifford's Birthday Party" in which Clifford invites his friends to his birthday party and they don't show up because they're worried their presents aren't good enough for such a special friend. As it turns out, they're right, as Clifford inadvertently destroys most of their presents within minutes of receiving them. All except for the tiny yellow sweater Jenny and her dog Flip gives him -- which in my opinion is about the dumbest present you could give a dog. I mean seriously, you're shopping for a birthday present for a dog and you decide a cardigan is your best bet? And then you don't even attempt to find one that will actually fit his much-advertised larger-than-average stature? He's called Clifford the Big Red Dog for crying out loud!!!! Then Clifford is forced to be gracious about your lame-ass***** gift act like the sweater will be just perfect for keeping his nose warm. Because, you know, dogs hate the fact that their noses are cold. 
**** Sorry again mom.
***** And again, mom.

1 comment:

  1. The squirrels were dressed for the BCS championship game (green for Notre Dame and red for Alabama) in which ND for some reason decided to not even show up and leads me to reading your hysterical blog. Thanks for improving my very, very bad mood just a little bit. First smile I've had all night.