whale in the hollow

For three weeks, I’m in this hollow northwest of Knoxville, which is to say this holler (see the r through to the end), as it’s said here in Tennessee, which is much like the holla (give up after half the vowel and the whole consonant that’s trying to end the word) where I grew up: these are the same mountains, the same deep green folds in all this old evidence of tectonic shift. I’m working in a rich, red room at Sundress Academy for the Arts, and feeding chickens and ducks and sheep and dogs, and watching the leaves of the tulip poplar to the left of the window shade gold. The butterfly bush on the right, though, is still heliotrope-bright and calling in the hummingbirds all day.

Picture of a black desk with a laptop, open notebook, and various tchotchkes, including a small plush stegosaurus.
My desk set-up, with a few friends/talismans.

But what about the whale?

I’m the whale, I’ve decided, with baleen about the eyes instead of the mouth, ready to pull in great gulps and filter out what’s not needed later, because my aim here is beginning something new. That means I get to stand in the heart of the field, hang my head out the car window, dive deep, deep with every sense wide open. Get to be a crow. Pluck out every scrap on the heap with the least bit of shine, even if the shimmer is only because this stone’s been in the rain and it’s going to dry out dull enough.

Gather now. Decide later. What a delightful feeling.

Photograph of a forest floor, with a mossy log in the foreground. An old metal plate and bolt are affixed to the log.
Looking for the unexpected.

Two recent items of interest:
On September 9, The Rumpus was kind enough to provide a home for my review of Diane Zinna’s debut novel, The All-Night Sun, a book I loved.
&
The excellent Effectively Wild podcast, helmed by Ben Lindbergh, Meg Rowley, and Sam Miller, orchestrated a tribute to Roger Angell on the occasion of his hundredth birthday. Really, really happy to have been asked to contribute to this. You can find the podcast & the written transcript.

It feels impossible to end anything, even a blog post, without saying I hope you are well. Even as I know, very much, that many of us are not well. But I hope you are, despite everything, in whatever ways are possible. I hope you are finding good things little and large, however they come to you, and feeling them as good or comforting or fulfilling as possible.


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