Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Since "returning"

portion of St. Cloud State Community Garden

Independence Day and there are no fireworks here. Gratitude for gardens, for people who put doing right before ideology (thanks Justice Roberts), for all those whose lives and works have contributed to the on-going experiment that is our country.

And there's thinking about traveling done--traveling to do.

And last week there was a trip to St. Cloud Minnesota for the St. Cloud University Children's Literature Conference. Conference organizer Marcia Thompson is a wonderful tour guide--showed me the university and the lovely Munsinger & Clemens gardens, begun by the Works Progress Administration and expanded in 1986 "as a gift of love from Bill Clemens to his wife, Virginia" (from the Munsinger & Clemens brochure).

We also toured the St. Cloud University/St. Cloud City community gardens. It's such a treat to see these thriving community gardens in so many communities. Marcia and I realized we grew up in adjoining towns in Maine--she in Buckfield and I  in Turner. We could have played softball on opposing teams (except that I was not on the softball team--too klutzy).  It was wonderful to spend time with someone else who loves Streaked Mountain.

The conference offered a good chance to talk about how stories seem to choose us, based on who we are, what we have loved, what we worry about, what sustains us.  And to talk about a writer's obligation to story and how that shows up in the research, the writing and the book.  And I was grateful to the people who chose to spend a perfectly fine June day inside.

Julie Reimer--a book's best friend

And I was so happy to see Julie Reimer again. I had met her at a Children's Literature Network breakfast  in 2010. She is passionate about children's books and just the librarian that we wish for in all our schools. She brought stacks of books so she could introduce us all to her recent favorites.If you want to meet Julie, click on the link and read her wonderful blog.

Now it's time to get ready for another trip, this time to Minnesota for the residency of Hamline University's Low Residency Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. We will be talking a lot about setting in the next 11 days. And what's new in non-fiction (Marsha Qualey, Liza Ketchum, possibly others, and myself), doing a lot of writing and of course talking about writing. I'm looking forward to the busy-ness, the energy of so many people who love writing all in the same place, the early morning walks when we sometimes see herons or egrets, the surprises of thought and phrase that always occur during these intense residencies.

In the meantime, Happy Fourth of July!


  1. I love the reflections in this photograph! You will certainly be happy to return again after working at Hamline for the next week or so.

  2. I love that photo, too, and the chance spotting of an egret. They always seem an omen of good to me. Isn't it interesting, this tendency to make meaning, or try to make meaning out of chance spottings of birds.