Fall Snapshots: Wind Whispers

From the time of my childhood, wind and waves have always invigorated me. Put me on a shore somewhere and let me listen to the pounding surf and lift my face to the onshore wind and I come away totally refreshed.

At home the wind isn’t often strong enough to hear. Occasional breezes will flutter the branches in relative silence. Prior to the current cold snap, however, the weather reports included wind warnings, and we had several days of blustery, gusting wind that made our trees sing.

“At home,
I love reaching out into that absolute silence,
when you can hear the owl or the wind.”

Amanda Harlech
Most days I prefer to write in silence, but if I think a little background music will help, I have a small assortment of CDs from which I select. Many are Dan Gibson‘s Solitudes albums… gentle, relaxing music accompanied by sounds from nature — wind, waves, birds. If you need something energizing, they wouldn’t be a good choice, but when I need distracting from the bustle of everyday, they are perfect.
I’m always amazed by writers who do their writing in crowded coffee shops. I’m told the background becomes white noise, but I would just get sidetracked by it and start people-watching.
But the wind is something else. Its whisperings empty my consciousness, leaving my mind ready to be occupied by the lives of my characters. I love the wind — at least, I do until it uproots trees that tumble across hydro lines and leave my computer powerless! So far this fall we’ve been spared that inconvenience. Long may it last. I have writing to do.
I know I’ve asked the question before, but what’s your preferred accompaniment when writing? Silence, special music, perhaps scented candles or potpourri, or…? 
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Fall Snapshots: Decline or Dormancy?

As the days of autumn slip and slither along a rainy path, my hope for vivid fall colours continues to wane. There is undeniable beauty in the woods and gardens but it doesn’t leap out and capture my attention as it did last year. The Vine Maples are a good example. The photo in my blog header was taken last fall. The one below is the same shrub, but photographed today.

Vine Maple 2014

We have a number of Hydrangeas around the property. One is a Climbing Hydrangea that clambers up and over the arbour that leads to our marsh trail. In the late spring and summer it sports large white ‘lacecap’ blossoms. Once the blossoms are done, it’s just a nice green cover for the trellis… until fall.


In the fall it turns a bright yellow. Today, although the leaves are dropping, it’s still a vivid gold that, even in the rain, adds a sunny glow amid the evergreens in that corner of the yard.


We have other Hydrangeas in the gardens, too… the bush type with ‘mophead’ blooms. Most are pink, but as the season transitions, so does their colour. The individual petals are curling and they’ll be brown by winter, I’ll leave them in place. The birds seem to enjoy them.



Fall Blossoms

Just as I mentioned on Monday, it would be easy to moan about what was instead of celebrating what is. In the garden, however, the steady deterioration has a purpose. It’s part of the cycle of life — going to seed, resting, waiting for the new season of re-energizing and production.

Today’s blog post was delayed because I spent time at a NaNoWriMo write-in. Some of the other participants were comparing their word counts and feeling embarrassed that they were so low. But everyone admitted to having written something, and I was able to remind them that those words were more than they’d had when they arrived. Those words were motivation for what could come next. Tomorrow will be a fresh start… a time to move on and begin building again on what was achieved in the past.

Sometimes we celebrate the present achievement; sometimes it’s necessary to resign ourselves to some dormancy. Use the time to look ahead and maybe plan the next landscape. There are NaNo-ing days when I wonder why I’m bothering to participate in this literary marathon if my output isn’t going to be more significant. Then I remember that these waning times, even dormant times, are often necessary for future creativity. There is a cyclic nature to all of life… even to our writing. Tomorrow will be a better day!

How’s your writing going this week… or whatever other project you might have ‘on the go’? 

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Fall Snapshots: Changes

The meteorologist revealed the delightful news yesterday that our October had twenty-two days of rain. Not steady rain, of course, but days that received a measurable amount, along with warmer than average temperatures. Maybe that’s why the usual autumn colour hasn’t materialized around here. Usually by now the garden has shots of scarlet, orange and gold, but this year the changes are more subtle. It would be easy to overlook the beauty.

Fall Travel

(Consider clicking on the photos if you’d like a closer look.)

Fall leaves

My two day NaNoWriMo word total is 2,852… a couple pages short of the desired daily average. Some years I start out gung ho the first few days and rack up great numbers. Not so this year. I’m like the tortoise, slow and plodding. It would be easy to overlook the accomplishment and bemoan those 2,852 words instead of celebrate them.

It’s time to jump up and down, wave my arms and shout, “Yay!!! 2,852 great new words!” Then again, I don’t know how great they are. NaNoWriMo words tend to need a lot of later revision, but at least they’re new words. I’m smiling.

What accomplishment, large or small, makes you smile today?

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Blame everything on the weather!



Streaks of clouds in pre-sunset peach and charcoal-purple cut through a cerulean sky. The weather is changing. There’s been intermittent light rain interspersed with brief sunny breaks through much of the past few days, but flurries are in today’s forecast.

I don’t fuss over the weather. There’s a saying here on the west coast, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” Some folks also say, “If you can’t see the mountains, it’s raining. If you can, it’s going to rain.” The more optimistic of us point to how green everything is, thanks to the rain.


My mood isn’t affected, whatever the colour of the sky. There are people whose mood is, and some who even experience S.A.D. — Seasonal Affective Disorder — during low light seasons. I tend to forget that it’s a very real, clinical disorder, and I can sometimes be insensitive to those who complain about the weather, or display negativity, discouragement and depression because of it.

During November’s NaNoWriMo my project was to rewrite the ending of a recently completed manuscript. As I rushed headlong through the words, instead of resolving my protagonist’s dilemmas, I ended up heaping more upon her. Nothing seems to go right for her, and I’ve realized a lot of the time it’s because of her negative perspective. The story happens between November and February. I’m beginning to wonder if she has S.A.D. That would explain a lot, but it complicates the plot.

The story is taking off in a direction I didn’t intend, and I’m not sure I like this feeling of losing control.

If you’re a writer, are you always in control of your story and its characters? What happens when your control slips away?

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Skipping the present to get to the future

There’s frost here this morning. Our shake roof glistens white in the sunshine, and trails of mist play at the edges of the marsh. An e-mail from family in the southeastern corner of the province brought photos of their first major snowfall — 22 cm that delighted the children but required plowing at 5 a.m. to ensure everyone could get to work and school.

I love the early fall, when bright colours dapple the landscape. It’s my favourite season.

Geese on the go in the Fraser Valley

Geese on the go in the Fraser Valley

Fall on the Fraser River

Fall on the Fraser River

Mist on our lake in BC's Cariboo

Mist on our lake in BC’s Cariboo

I’m not so enamoured by late fall. We west coasters know that many weeks of grey skies and constant rain are on the horizon. But if I dwell on what is to come, I won’t fully appreciate the present.


When it comes to my writing, during November if I’m not revising one particular manuscript I’m working on the first draft of another. That one is still new and I don’t have a clear view of its ending. As I work on preliminary scenes I’m sometimes tempted to skip ahead and try to figure out exactly how my characters solved their dilemma. However, to do so would mean missing the excitement of discovery along the way. For now, I plan to focus on the present and worry about how the future unfolds when the time comes.

There are many different ways of constructing a novel. What’s your process during a first draft?

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Autumn’s Glow


Lakeside 2

There is a harmony
In autumn, and a luster in its sky…

[Percy Bysshe Shelley]

Colours 3

I loved autumn,
the one season of the year
that God seemed to have put there
just for the beauty of it.

[Lee Maynard]


So many things to love about autumn!

I had leftover pumpkin on hand
and baked pumpkin spice muffins this morning.



What’s your favourite thing about Autumn?

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