Shoveling Snow

Who knew?  Shoveling snow is a great way to get ideas for writing.  (no, that’s not me) And in recent weeks here in the Salt Lake Valley, we’ve certainly had enough to shovel.  Just yesterday I spent an hour removing nearly a foot of the stuff off my driveway and sidewalks.  My poor kitty went outside for some fresh air and nearly disappeared in the back yard.

But all that monotonous activity turns out to be good for my creativity.  I began thinking about places I’d rather be – spurred primarily by the fact that I’m leaving on Saturday to spend a week in Mexico with my family – and I was reminded of a backpacking trip with my husband (then fiance’) about 15 years ago.  It was physically challenging, blissfully romantic (really), and created for us one of our fondest memories.  As I pushed snow around, trying to find more room for stacking it, I developed a poem in my head.  As soon as I was finished, I rushed in and wrote it down:

 

 (^This is the real place!)

Red Pine Lake

The moon climbed so high its light strained to reach us
        reflecting in broken shards scattered across the chilled water.
Coyotes called us from a distant peak
        their voices eerie in the mountain air.
Your pale skin in the vague illumination seemed unearthly,
        but your warm touch grounded me and made me brave.
A night breeze filtered through the boughs of pines
        and whispered to us in words we felt but couldn’t hear.
Thin clouds tried to blot the moon’s weak effort
        but it seeped through their feeble fingers and continued its course.
Morning found us damp with dew, our lungs filled with clear air,
        as hummingbirds dove and darted among the late summer wildflowers.
We watched the lake as it watched the sky and clouds,
         and regretted our short stay and our descent from heaven.

I don’t consider myself as primarily a poet, but I’m growing more brave about writing poetry, and more so with sharing it.
I attended a workshop once with a fabulous writer named Tim Wynn-Jones.  He explained this idea that mundane work can lead to creative thoughts by describing the brain’s process of performing rote tasks on autopilot, freeing up the mind to wander.  It’s the wandering that generates the unique links in our mind that stir memory and imagination together to create these seemingly random ideas.  That’s why I keep a notebook in my laundry room.  It also explains why many writers talk about getting ideas in the shower, or while driving.  I have a dear friend who swears her best ideas come while she is vacuuming.
While I’m grateful for any opportunity to create, I am looking forward to finding my inspiration somewhere on a beach in Puerto Aventuras, sipping mojitos while digging my toes in the sand.  I most certainly will have a notebook with me (I’ve got work to do and promises to keep to my editor), and I’m looking forward to finding inspiration that isn’t accompanied by gloves and long-johns.  Even just for a week.
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