Wednesday, May 30, 2012

LIFE OF AN AUTHOR: When Nature Has Other Plans On Your Writing Day

Today was supposed to be an all-out writing day. I’d had it all planned.   

I’d get up early and dig right in (putting the window fan on before the heat made things too sweaty to focus).

I was going over how it would all play out, lying under the thinnest covers in the late hours the night before, listening to the remnants of a violent thunder storm that had swept through our New Hampshire town. The rigorous cloud burst had left our dog Lucy shivering a few hours before it even began. Rich and I had decided to read by a lamplight expecting the electricity to go out, but it only flickered. We listened to the rain, which sometimes came down in sheets that drenched any windowsill beneath a sash that had been left open just a crack. But I’d checked my computer twice and it was functioning fine. I was still on track for my mega-writing day.

A few hours later, after it had long gotten dark, we’d still heard the rain. Checking the backyard before heading to bed, we scanned the lawn with our flashlights for any signs of collecting pools—we live about a 100 yards from a brook that can overflow---but we’ve never seen it happen.

But then the fire department’s pick-up truck zoomed down the streets and we heard voices at 3 in the morning. The brook had gone over its banks further down from where we live, and some of the streets had flooded.

Our backyard started pooling toward the forest but luckily, nothing major. Still, the anxiety of the wetness and the newness of it brought out weird behavior in some animals. (Did you know that squirrels can dive into puddles of water and swim to the other side?)
Our sudden "vernal" backyard pool.

Ground hogs wriggled in the grass of our yard, disoriented, as robins hovered at the edge of the temporary, grass-fed pools. And chipmunks frantically dug to see if their acorns were still safe where they’d buried them.

On the streets, I could tell some of the neighborhood kids were scared. It’s one thing to don your billy boots to jump in puddles, but not when the puddles are twelve feet long and deep.

Heading over to the post office, we started hearing the sound of pumps siphoning out water from basements and water-logged streets. The day soon became full of stories--just not the one’s I’m supposed to write about for editors who go by deadlines. But the weather has a way of disrupting schedules, and also pulling people together—the closer the pools of water come to a neighbor’s house, the closer you become to them, reaching out to help. Rich is talking about getting Kentucky Fried chicken for supper and having the neighbors come over to nosh on the porch and get away from the thought of water.

If it were any other day, I’d say no to a deep-fried supper. But there are times when something greasy can be comforting, and when writing what you’re supposed to can wait.


  1. It can be tough when your plans get sabotaged, but it seems you found a plus in it. Hope things dry out quickly.

  2. Kathy,

    Today we barely have mud in our backyard, and the sun is drying things out nicely. The rising waters did strengthen our bonds with the neighbors, so you really can find a silver lining wrapped around those sump pumps.