Friday, January 07, 2011

The Wandering Mind

Have you ever noticed that some activities free your mind to wander and ponder and go thither and yon?  For me these activities are listening to classical music (especially chamber music) in a concert hall and working out in my aerobics class.  One activity is basically passive (the concert) and the other involves some jumping around, but the effect on me is the same.  The only constant is music; because of course we do aerobics and lift weights to music. 

In my aerobics class I always get good ideas for my writing, and sometimes even a solution to a thorny problem will pop right into my head while we’re “scooping” or doing the “grape vine.” 

When I debugged computer programs, taking a shower frequently moistened the mind as well as the body.  Taking a walk is good, too.  One of the best things about Nantucket was being carless all week.  We even stopped renting bikes and just walked everywhere except when we caught the beach bus.  Walking is done in human time. 

Writing has to take a hiatus when the holidays are here and the house is full of guests, and now my tasks are done and it’s back to the manuscript again.  A few ideas have percolated up during the break.  A writer is ALWAYS writing even if she is driving along a country road or watching the birds pecking for seed in the snow.  Or peeling carrots.  Or . . . Or . . . Or . . . Writing is like breathing.  Even when you’re  on autopilot. Especially when you're on autopilot.

The cats have had two days of excellent bird watching.  Thisbe flattens herself against the living room rug when the juncos and doves eat on the deck.  I see that we still have the pretty little song (?) sparrow that was here last winter.  Or is he a marsh sparrow?  They all look alike, and by the time I drag out the bird book and find “sparrows,” he is gone. 

We also have a handsome flicker and a trio (ménage a trois) of doves who were also around last winter.  I have cracked corn for the wild turkeys but haven’t seen any.  At Glue Factory Pond (quaint name, yes?) there are no birds this winter.  The white geese vanished, and now the ducks and even the seagulls are gone, as are even the Canadian geese and they never leave. 

Winter has us in its grip, but the mind is not housebound and ranges far and wide.  I hope you are snug and warm and even a bit plump for the cold months ahead.


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