Five Days Until Christmas

It’s December 20th. The grass is still green, the leaves have been carted away by the city, and there is little to no chance of a white Christmas in Toledo. In five days, we will celebrate Christmas in my house as we always do, coming home from Mass late on Christmas Eve, sleeping in on Christmas morning, and opening gifts over coffee and Kolacky when the house is all awakened. I can usually slip in reading the paper and even a few chapters of a book before the kids get up. Now that they are grown, sleeping in is better than opening presents, I suppose. I still look forward to that magical moment when I arise and know it’s Christmas morning, that feeling that comes but once a year. Happy holidays everyone.

Pressing the “Send” button

Well, it’s been a quiet week-end in my house. If this sounds a bit like the beginning of a Garrison Keillor monologue, perhaps its because I just finished reading his latest Lake Wobegon novel The Lake Wobegon Virus. And reading Garrison’s writing, with its simple storylines and understated humor, always inspires my own writing.

As the leaves sprinkled the still-green lawn, I spent time submitting three short stories, two to one magazine, called Kaleidoscope, and the third to another, called Soul Fountain. I tweaked my query letters, neatened up the manuscripts, and pressed “Send” three times. It’s a good feeling! (Even if I didn’t rake one leaf to the curb.)

Sunday, October 4

It’s the first day of the week or the last day of the weekend depending upon your point of view. Most Sundays, I wake up and think of all the things I didn’t finish in the last six days. Today, it rained in Toledo, a light steady rain, enough to keep the lawn green and the plants in bloom. The sun came out in the afternoon, in a clear blue sky sprinkled with wispy clouds. After church, I made a list. But the list changed and shifted during the day. First, we tore out the floors in most of the house, (to be replaced with tile). Not a difficult job but messy. Next, Sunday dinner: chicken, tater tot casserole, a salad. Then, writing. But that shifted as well. I decided at seven p.m. that writing would have to wait until another day. I will write the stories I have to tell. Yet not today, a pleasant first Sunday in October.

6:00 a.m. September 25 near Clyde, Ohio

Alone, I’m standing on the banks of a trout stream pre-dawn. Perfect stillness surrounds me. I cross one of numerous footbridges onto an island, waiting and watching the water. A slap and a ripple tells me something is watching me back. On the farm across the road, a rooster calls out its cock-a-doodle-doo to its family. I have never fished for trout, as we were raised fishing in Lake Erie and occasionally the other Great Lakes. I wish I could stay here and observe a fly-fisherman, but my day calls me to other things.

I turn and cross the footbridge, walking up the dewy hill slowly. As I head back into my room, I wait and watch for a moment longer, imagining what it is like to fly-fish. Maybe one day I’ll know. For now, I’ll just savor the pre-dawn memory.