I’ve come to end of my writer’s retreat. It has been a fabulous retreat. A treat of a retreat.
When I arrived on October 1, Monday, the trees were in leaf and vines and grass sprung thickly from the paths, grabbing at my ankles as I pushed my way through. During the day, the sun warmed the cabin to a summer heat and the metal roof pinged and complained. Temperatures soared into the 80s by day and dipped to the 40s in the evening.
On warm evening nights I sat on the back porch with a chilled beer and watched the sky turn from blue to pink to mauve.
Jets passed far overhead, as if belonging to another world. They winked silver in the fading sun, leaving a streak of white cloud like a snail’s trail. The white turned pink and then evaporated. Once the sky grew dark I went back inside to start dinner.
As the days went by I watched the leaves turn from green to the brilliant hues of autumn, red, gold, ocher. I could hear them fall crisply to the forest floor. Sometimes crashing so loudly I believed an animal was afoot. Perhaps a bear, that damn imaginary bear.
I have used the time here to dream, to step into a world of imagination, to cross over borders of time and space. My mountain ridge in Eastern Tennessee merged into the Eastern Hills (Higashiyama) of Kyoto. And I became Ruth, inheriting her story, absorbing her pain and fear.
Mornings came and went and evenings followed. Gradually my fear of the bear evaporated. Before long I was rambling along the wooded lanes and laughing at the stumps and clumps that had appeared so threatening in the morning mists just weeks ago. Ruth, too, began to find her strength as she chased after those who would hurt her, had hurt her.
The weather is changing. Hurricane Sandy is lashing the coast. It will send its clouds as far west as the cabin, I suspect. The crisp blue October skies are now muted with grey November clouds. Rain is not far behind. And then, perhaps, snow.
It is time to go.
I still worry about my mystery novel.
It’s been easier to imagine a novel focused on Earl—a man who once antagonized me but who now I have come to rather enjoy—than it has been to smooth the wrinkles out in my “kimono” mystery. I keep trying to unravel the story. I have bodies to account for. But no one yet to blame. Who is the murderer? The question has hounded me even as I write. And then this morning, as I was running along the northern ridge of the property, it came to me. I met the killer. I know now how the story will end.
And so, it’s time to go.
I need to get out ahead of the storm.
Top photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash