Feeding the Lake
“All of writing is a huge lake…All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.” ~Jean Rhys
Sometimes, you have to leave your writing desk and take a walk to clear out the cobwebs tangling you into writer’s block. For me, a walk to the lake does the trick.
At Enid Lake, where I live, there are many paths I can take to get to the lake.
I can walk to the left of my home down a black-top road past thick woods of tall pines, oak trees, cedar, and birches on both sides of the road. This road leads to one of the smaller boat-ramps on Enid Lake, but a surprisingly very busy one in the summer. Other seasons, I often find solitude on this walk. I like to take this walk in the morning when there are less likely to be fishing boats returning to the ramp. There, I sit on a bench on a hill under a small covered pavilion and allow my thoughts to wander freely about a story I’m working on as I watch anglers casting lines from fishing boats trolling across the lake.
Sometimes, I bring my fishing pole, walk down to the end of the boat ramp, and fish. Fishing, like walking, also helps me to clear out the cobwebs. Often, I work out the story problem and walk back to the house, feeling refreshed, and ready to work again.
Another option is to walk to the right of my house and walk down another black-top road which curves down to the campground overlooking the lake. My favorite time to take this walk is right before sunset. During the week, there are rarely any campers. Usually, it is just me and my three dogs. I always walk to the last camp site at the end of the road. Like all the camp sites, it overlooks the lake, too. Yet, it is a special place. It faces directly west, and the sunsets are amazing. There are two side-by-side gray concrete picnic tables. I take a seat on top of one of the tables, resting my feet on the bench, and wait for nature to do its thing. Great Blue Herons glide across the lake down at the beach and overhead, Red-Tailed Hawks take flight from their perches in the tree-tops.
As the sun begins to sink lower and sets below the horizon, the sky’s palette slowly shifts from powder blue to a bright yellow-orange then to purple, pink, and a fiery mix of reds. My mind is focused on the setting sun and the changing palette. I am no longer wrestling ideas working themselves out in my brain. My dogs are sprawled in different places on the hill, taking in nature’s painting, too. They have such patience. They teach me to be still, to wait. Something will happen. Something will click on in my brain. I ‘ll sprang into action and walk a faster pace home to get to back my desk before the ideas fade into the horizon.
Finally, my favorite walk is down a short trail through the woods down to the lake with my husband and our dogs. This is the walk usually taken after a Friday writing session. In the spring, I really look forward to this walk because the woods come alive with a glorious symphony of a multitude of bird songs and calls from swallows, jays, wrens, nuthatches, and crow. I’m fond of the Fish Crow caw-caw. Unlike other crow caws, this crow has a lower pitch and more guttural double noted caw-caw. In the winter, when most birds have migrated to warmer climates, the woods are quiet except for the crunching of dried leaves as we walk in silence, hoping to hear the peck-peck of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the pines.
At the end of the trail, the woods open like a door and reveal miles and miles of sandy beach and water smooth as glass. We walk down the beach to our favorite spot and perch ourselves on the massive sandstone rocks on a hill we call Red Rock Point. We have a deep fire pit that we dug out ourselves and surrounded it with various sizes of smaller sandstone rocks to block gusts of wind on windy days. This is our camp — our little spot in paradise. In the fall and winter, we spend most of the day tending the fire. It is silent except for our voices calling out to each other now and then as we gather wood. One of my tasks is to gather tender – try twigs, dried pine needles and leaves, pine cones, cattail heads. While my husband combs the beach and searches the woods for larger pieces of fallen limbs and logs, I also gather the kindling to stack like a tepee in the fire pit. As the fire burns throughout the afternoon, we continue to feed it. We sit still on the sandstone rocks around the fire and meditate on the lake, spotting herons and egrets diving for fish. The dogs play on the beach — finding sticks, sniffing out clams, or taking a dip to swim with the fish.
Sometimes, my husband joins the dogs in their play while I sit on the rocks, tending the fire, and writing in my head (I do have pen and paper in my backpack just in case). It never fails. A firestorm of ideas always occurs. Some ideas are just tender, others are kindling, and some are the really big logs. If I have the sense to quickly write them down, I carry them back with me on the walk home.
The Plum Point: “Solvitur ambulando” Translation: “It is solved by walking.” Take a walk; feed the lake.