What in Blue Blazes

After an early thunderstorm and the requisite farmers’ market visit, Saturday offered a perfect day for a long walk, and ours took us to Pine Grove Furnace State Park, for the Pole Steeple Overlook and Mountain Creek Trail.

Painted blue trail blazes on a tree trunk
The blue blazes of the Pole Steeple Trail
A rocky outcrop in the forest beside a creek
Sun-dappled views from one of the Mountain Creek Trail bridges
Mountain laurel blooms, close up
Mountain laurel in bloom at the Pole Steeple Overlook
Trees and sky from the Pole Steeple Overlook
Blue and green as far as the eye can see from Pole Steeple Overlook

It also offered a point of perspective, a chance to take a longer view. Though summer hasn’t even properly started, its shape is now clear:

There’s the novel draft. (There’s always a novel draft. There are also other things I want to write, and I have a contract with myself: once the novel draft is settled, I’ll work on those short things and let the manuscript rest, properly rest.) And there are, of course, syllabi to write—exacerbated by my tendency to never want to teach a class the same way twice—and administrative tasks to complete. All those necessities that can’t really be squeezed into the confines of the regular semester, like developing an assessment plan for the new creative writing major, writing the grant report for Writing: A Life, doing some curriculum development work, and finally organizing my bookshelves, are in their queue. I’m reading Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey for the Pennsylvania Chautauqua’s summer book review series, and it’s so well done. I feel like I’m drinking it, it’s that effortless a read (and thus I’m feeling sanguine about teaching it in my “Heroes and Legends” class in the spring). That’s an rousing recommendation, by the way: to make a translation of so gargantuan and venerable a text as The Odyssey go down so smoothly means that there is untold effort beneath the delectable surface readers get to devour. I feel similarly about Madeline Miller’s Circe, which, incidentally, is likely to end up on the same syllabus.

But the book talk isn’t until mid-August. I don’t usually go falling down the syllabi warren until mid-July. Why be so eager to dive in on all of it when the semester’s wax still hasn’t cooled?

Because I’ve been accepted for a residency at the Vermont Studio Center for July and also as a contributor in fiction for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Thanks to some crucial institutional support from both VSC and Lebanon Valley College, I’m going to make doing both of these staggeringly lovely opportunities work. And I owe it to both of these spaces and to my own craft to make sure that I’m ready to be present and focused during my time in Vermont. So. All things in their time, and the time for these things is now.

I’m looking forward to long walks in Vermont, too.

4 thoughts on “What in Blue Blazes

  1. Double whammy! Well done! Those walks are largely uphill (the college has s library that, when I was there, used the Dewey Decimal System, snd, again, when I was there that was the only phone reception. In those days it was “no laptops in the dining room” (wonder how they regulate smartphones?) and the sculptors were the most fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is, according to the residency guide, a no-phones-at-meals policy (to add to the no-laptop policy). I’m glad of that, though I also anticipate struggling with a need for baseball news.


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