Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Luck, "Northwest Passages," the Templeton storm, & chickens

1. FEELING LUCKY

Just after I opened my letter saying that "An Incident at Agate Beach" ("Argosy Quarterly" 3) was being picked up for the Northwest Passages anthology, an indigo-colored storm blew out of the west and flashed through Templeton in a hither-and-thither tornado-like pattern. Took me straight back to waking up in Carrboro (the former mill town attached to Chapel Hill) on the morning after Hurricane Fran, except that the houses here are historic and the fallen trees here are not pines but maples and oaks and hemlocks. And it was pleasing to get power back this morning rather than in excess of two weeks.

The Foote House has lost its overhangs, and the main ridge has broken apart. Across the street a big maple lies overthrown in the Christ Church graveyard. It has flattened one of the ancient cherries that make such a lovely spring alley up to the church that Fenimore Cooper renovated in the Gothic manner and, it seems, to his own self-satisfaction. The fallen canopy intimately embraces the old gravestones but doesn't appear to have broken any, so far as I can tell. Another tree drags on the lines outside the Tudor-style rectory.

An enormous fir from the grounds at Riverbrink, built on the old hanging grounds with the bricks of Cooper's Otsego Hall, hovers-- perfectly horizontal--twenty feet above the road. But the house and gardens and Chinese pavillion are safe. Riverbrink stands just slantwise across the street from Lakelands, perhaps the most beautiful house in the village. It has lost, it appears, five ancient trees, and a leafy canopy tops the porch. That house has always seemed magical with its perfect federal center-hall proportions, its porch, its setting; I walk by and see the lake through the front door. Everywhere one looks--the Clark houses, the Clark Center, the village streets--the heads of trees are at their feet.

The van was our only home casualty. A major limb off the ash tree shattered the (almost brand new) windshield into a baggy glass net. It smacked down right by the driver's side door, and yes, I was very glad that I'd paused and been staring out the kitchen windows instead of rushing out before things got any worse. It was the hour of child-ferrying...

My daughter has always said that the ash tree is lucky for us, despite the fact that it hurls brickbats in high winds, and once tore down the utility lines.

And in some secret, roundabout way, I do feel very lucky and blessed.

2. CASCADIA

The first reason--minor compared to what came after--I felt lucky yesterday was in having a story accepted by Northwest Passages: A Cascadian Odyssey. That's because the letter claims that editor and writer Cris DiMarco read 1,035 stories before he made his final selection. He received more than a thousand tales about a narrowly-defined subject. The fact that I had one that "fit" was sheer coincidence. Were the other 1,034 also coincidence? That suggests an astounding number of stories floating about the world. Just 1,035 is a bit sobering. In fact, daunting. That it's daunting to me is why I am not an anthologist. The book will be launched at Cascadia Con in Seattle. I've never been to a Con and don't entirely grasp what goes on, but I like the rabid enthusiasm of con-goers.

3. Best chicken quote of the day

Right after the power swept in and set the lights and radio going, I caught this on NPR Morning Edition:

"Chicken waste has made northwest Arkansas what it is today."

4. Best woe-in-publishing discussion of the day

"Choice overload," at The Reading Experience.

1 comment:

  1. More cats, fewer chickens!

    --Lady Azure's Secretary

    ReplyDelete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.