Lots to talk about today. Pull up a chair.
My friends have gotten so tired of hearing me say I’ve finished my book that all I will tell you today is that I have all the words I was looking for rounded up and put on paper. All that is left is to make sure they are the best words, that they are in the right order and that I punctuated it all correctly. I have friends to help me with this part so the solitary work is over.
And not a minute too soon. I have run out of gum.
Ever since I worked for the bank I have used chewing gum to help me concentrate. And since the bank gave out cheap gum to customers (yes, banks used to give things away. Banks used to have a lot of money.) and since my tiny little department of trolls in the basement had an unlimited supply of cheap gum, we chewed it all the time.
Actually, cheap gum is not easy to come by. I have to import it from Mexico. I had Beaven bring me two boxes of it from a mission trip last summer. He didn't know what he was getting into at the time.
Cheap gum is the good popping kind. All bank employees know what I’m talking about. The five of us crammed into one tiny office designed for one tucked into a corner of the basement popped our gum a lot but since we were all doing it, nobody ever cared how much noise it make. Between much smacking and popping we made sure every single general ledger account in the bank reconciled to their subsidiary ledgers every day. It was a fun job. Kind of like putting a puzzle together all day.
However, my husband never worked at a bank and, consequently, does not have the same appreciation of my “little symphony”. For the last couple of weeks while I was going fast and furious with a little help from my cheap gum, I have been banished to the hobby shop because someone claimed it was driving him nuts. I packed up the laptop, printer and all my notes and moved out there to write in peace and popping noises. I haven’t slept out there but I could have—the building also serves as a guest house of sorts.
So the hard part of writing this book is over. Now all I have to do is listen to my editors and build a fire under the publisher.
Monday I declared my work done and moved all my boxes of notes back into the house. The weather has been getting warmer and very pleasant. So I’ve started sleeping outside at night. There are the most delicious sounds outside but I’m usually confined to the house because it’s either too hot or too cold. And the sound isn't quite the same inside the house, even in the tiny hobby shop, even with all the windows opened. But lately the weather at night has been just right. Also, I had a new tent to try out. The other one was smallish and definitely wouldn’t fit both granddaughters and myself. So I had a brand new one to inaugurate.
I don't mess with a cot because I've found a good airmattress right there on the ground is as close to a real bed as you can get outside.
Our dogs didn’t know what to make of it. The tent doesn’t have windows so it’s a totally auditory experience for the dogs and me both. I can’t see them and they can’t see me. I can hear them walk up to the tent and sniff around trying to figure what the blue plastic thing is and why it smells vaguely like me. Once in a while one of them barked and I called out to them to hush. At first, they stopped immediately out of shock more than obedience. Then just as I was falling asleep last night I could hear the jingle of dog tags approaching the tent, then a soft sniffing noise and then a little watery tinkle against the tent wall just a few inches from my face. At first I thought it strange to have rain so unexpectedly before I realized Friday was peeing on the tent.
Well, that will certainly wake you up. It was the first test of how waterproof this new tent is and, thankfully, it passed the test.
But one of the treats of sleeping outside in a tent is being able to listen to the night sounds. There was nothing but thin nylon between me and the night and I heard everything God offered.
At dusk I heard a lot of sounds I usually hear, mostly sparrows hopping around on the ground with cheeps to each other saying Good Night. As night fell, I could hear an owl. The coyotes tuned up next with a couple of peremptory howls. Almost immediately every dog within a mile answered back that they were on duty that night. We have some wild dogs out here, too, and their barks are different from the coyotes and from the domestic dogs. I heard two different kinds of frogs but still not the big deep-throated bullfrogs. I guess they will come later when it warms up more. I have seen tiny baby frogs hopping around the edges of the pond but the bullfrongs must not have hatched yet. There was even a buzzing around the ground by the door to the tent that might have been a cicada if it wasn’t so early in the season.
The moon was almost full that night and it made it bright inside the tent. But there still wasn’t enough light to do anything but sleep. So eventually I drifted off.
This morning I woke to a different set of sounds. Two different birds called back and forth to each other. The dogs were silent and I knew Beaven had already fed them. It was far later than I usually wake up but there hadn’t been any of the usual house sounds like Beaven turning on the computers or turning the water tap on in the kitchen. The only sounds I could hear were from nature.
Our pastor has been suggesting silence as a Lenten practice this year. This was not silence. But it was still a deeply spiritual, heavenly sound. Room enough to squeeze in a prayer between many other conversations with the Creator.