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A Dark and Spooky Wood

December 4, 2010

Henry Coe State Park

I am writing about an old man who lives as a hermit in the backcountry of Henry Coe State Park.  He is a character in my upcoming novel, until now simply a bit character, popping up now and then in passing, but now he gets a chapter.  Putting myself in his world has been interesting.  For example, I dreamed that I passed by an enormous mountain lion right in my front yard, the memory of it is so real that I can still see him slink around behind our van that sits in the driveway.  I have been writing early in the morning and late at night, the story infiltrating my sleep periods.  It has been fitting for this particular character, a man who has turned away from humanity to live in the present, close to the land, far away from emotional drama. 

Frankie the Fearless

The days are short right now as we head into the winter solstice, which means that I have been in the woods in the dark quite a bit of late.  Without the dog, I would be chicken, hell, I am chicken with the dog.  It is better when I have a pack to get lost in, my pack consisting of me and Eva and our dogs Zephyr and Frankie.  We often meet up in the mountains, run through the forest of dark trees and black foot paths.  We pick up our feet to keep from tripping on roots and hope that we don’t meet up with a crazy person looking to interact with two nutty female runners and their trusty canine companions. 

How does this connect to my hermit?  I am finding that connection right now as I write this, understanding why it is difficult for me to immerse myself in his world and describe it from the inside out.  I strongly believe in having experiences alone in the woods, the vulnerable

Me and Zephyr

feeling part of the attraction and benefit.  What I see now is that I am usually in the company of an animal, a horse, a dog, or both, so in that sense I am not really alone.  I am beginning to realize that I don’t understand my character, his motives, how he combats the fear.  Perhaps that is why I write him when I am vulnerable, like at 5 am or when I am sleepy, turning off the computer when my fingers refuse to continue.  I will let this chapter be written from my dreams and I will take my nebulous thoughts into the darkness of the winter trails, let the chills crawl up my back when I get spooked, try to glean a bit of what the old man must experience in his chosen world.

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