On Labor Day, I journeyed once again with my mother to our ancient family cabin on the lake in McCall, Idaho. We have been spending a week or so there every fall for over ten years–beginning when she was in her 80s and I was in my 50s. She paints and I write. That cabin and our time there are the subjects of one of my writing projects, almost complete, but not quite.
While there, I read at the McCall Public Library, a jewel of a library in so small a town. My cousin Gay helped arrange the event. On a stormy, rainy evening, I talked and read about the people who came to Kellogg to work and live, their families and the community that grew, surviving the closing of the mine. It was a small but attentive audience, except for one person in the front row who fell asleep. Afterwards, a man who looked vaguely familiar came up and introduced himself as Keith, one of the talented trumpet players I knew from the Kellogg band in the 1950s. What a welcome surprise!
I talked about the background of my story, how and why I came to write it, and my process. As many of my audience were already familiar with my book, I read a short story written to help me remember the details of being down in the mine, combined with a story I’d heard about my father amputating a man’s arm in one of the stopes. This story was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in the anthology, Our Working Lives (Bottom Dog Press).
My last reading took place at the Community Library in Stanley, Idaho, with the Bowls and Books Book Club. This library once was a house along Ace of Diamonds Street, and now shelves many books near a wood stove, several computers, and a kitchen. Julie and John Rember, another writer and the author of one of the blurbs on the back cover of my book, had invited me to speak to the club months earlier. Members brought soup (including a delicious corn chowder made by Julie from fresh corn), bread, cheese, wine and dessert. How could we not have a good turnout?
The whole Stanley Basin shimmered with fall–yellow and gold aspens and cottonwoods; crisp, clear air; and always, the Sawtooth Mountains, jagged teeth sun-touched with small patches of snow in shady nooks.
My odyssey with my book slows but I continue to get letters and emails from new readers. This fall, I also learned that I received Honorable Mention in the 2009 Book of the Year Award–exciting news for a first book! Joyful and rewarding are two words that describe this whole year of readings, book signings, events, and of course my all-class reunion. Gerry has been by my side, my AV man, my constant support, my audience of one, smiling, nodding, clapping, photographing.
I am one lucky woman!