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Another Day in the Country

The well is empty

© Another Day in the Country

To have the well of stories, issues, antidotes, and remembering run dry is a very odd feeling.

I’ve felt it before but it didn’t linger. In all the years of writing this column, I’ve yet to come up against a deadline with a completely dry well of ideas.

Usually, there are notes on my phone, notes crammed in pockets and ideas on my laptop that are waiting for development. Not this time!

It feel like I’m hungry for something but I’m not sure what. This reminds me of my Dad who used to wander through the kitchen at night in his later years. He was antsy, unable to sleep, hungry for something, some little treat.

He wasn’t sure what he wanted but he’d move through the cupboards, one after another knowing that my mother often hid “goodies” in strange places. He became an expert at opening and closing cupboards with stealth.

Mom was always rationing things — especially things made with sugar, because, “they aren’t good for you,” she’d say. “You shouldn’t have too much.”

This was why Dad learned to be stealthy in his searching, quietly opening and closing doors.

When I was still at home, or in later years visiting, and Dad would start prowling through the cupboards while Mom was taking her bath, for instance, I’d hear Mom call out from the tub, “I hear you,” she’d call out, “What are you looking for?”

That’s what I’ve been doing in my mind — opening and closing drawers, hunting for just the right little treat to soothe or encourage for the day. I’m searching for something to make someone smile or, if I’m lucky, laugh right out loud. I’m hunting for some topic sufficiently benign, but still intriguing to explore about spending another day in the country.

Sadly, so far, the cupboards are empty.

There’s a reason that Mother Hubbard’s proverbial cupboards are bare. She’s on a fixed income. She lives a long way from most places of cultural interest. She’s getting older. She’s disappointed in the evening news. There’s a drought and I’m stranded on a deserted island with only a bunch of coconuts!

And then, in a great leap of faith in the creative process, I open the computer and begin to type, describing the dilemma I find myself in. I confess my inability to settle on a new thought, an outdated idea, a sweet tale, a sardonic incident or just some bit of news to share with you.

And right there in the midst of the confession, the miracle happens — for me, and I hope for you, too.

Just the notion of sharing, the idea of conversing, the miracle of companionship, community, several people reading a printed page filled with facts and figures, ideas and opinions, opens up a new world to explore.

In the far distant beginnings of mankind, right after the miracle of communication — in any form — came language in specific form passed from one person to another.

Before paper and pencil there were cave walls to draw pictures on to tell stories to the next generation.

One of the youngest in my tribe showed me a book he’d written, the other day, in Kindergarten.

In his school, they learn cursive writing as their first writing tool and here a five-year-old, spelling phonetically, had written a story and he wanted to read it to me.

His grandparents and I sat at the table while he proudly read his “story book.” Of all the senses, this is the one I am most amazed at today: our ability to communicate!

This little child had been given the gift of communicating in writing and he reveled in it his new skill and laughed aloud at our delight in his accomplishment.

His phonetic spelling was a hoot and his cursive handwriting amazing.

I don’t really remember the gist of the story but I’ll always remember his dancing eyes as he sounded out the words to read his own creation.

You may never write a story, or attempt to write a column for the newspaper, confessing your fear of not being able to come up with new things to write about; but we all have the amazing, mind-boggling ability to communicate, talk, share, smile, and tell a story to someone, on another day in the country!

Last modified Jan. 16, 2020

 

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