And so we reach the climax of the glacial saga of the enduring golden daffodils on their reluctance to face a chilly approach to spring. Yet they must. Hope reigns after all.
Below, these curious critters look on, perhaps wondering why in the world I would be down on my knees before a flower, not knowing they have become witnesses to a camera’s capture as well as minor characters in the story.
Now, confident in my flowers, I am ready to charge forward with that other saga, my new book. I’m reaching back to ancient Ireland again where a young woman, an Irish goldsmith, takes a perilous journey in search of a forbidden secret held by the Saltlanders, a people who would one day be called the Celts.
A show of promises came in doubles yesterday when a rainbow formed over my emerging daffodils–an ancient symbol of promise for better days along with my own floral symbol of promise for spring light pushing back the darkness of winter.
The daffodils haven’t quite opened yet, but these brave flowers have stood tall through a lot of unusually cold days. I’m at 600 feet above sea level so I’m a little colder than the valley floor, but mine are on their way.
Here come the first ones today on a balmy afternoon. Almost there.
By next week I expect they’ll be in full bloom as I sit down to begin writing my new book. I’ll take that for a promise. May the book be a good one. The actual writing is always exciting for me. I appreciate the show of hope nature provides.
Waiting for winter to go. Waiting for snow to melt. Waiting for spring.
Waiting for that important email. Waiting for that vital phone call.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Now, I realize that those of us in western Oregon know nothing of snow the way our friends or family in, say, Maine or Montana do. But it’s already March 5 and my daffodils are usually opening their faces by now. They’re my flowers of promise. They remind me that after the dark winter the light of spring will emerge. Oh yes, we get plenty of dark winter skies in the rainy Pacific Northwest. And snow is bright and beautiful. But I’m ready for spring’s light.
Below you see these same daffodils on February 28, 2022. February 28!
Of course winter offers one positive feature. It’s a good time to delve into indoor projects, like writing. I’m happy to say I just finished the outline for my next book. I’m ready to start the best part of creating a new story–the first draft when I immerse myself in another world and that world comes alive. May it bloom no matter how late the world outside my door.
First light on snowy western hills always thrills me. I wake in the dark early hours, thoughts spinning, as my new book comes to life. I know I should be sleeping, but I’m just beginning to see how that next scene will take shape. It grips me, won’t let go.
Finally the room fills with light and I rise from my bed to see this. How can I not stop to share it?
For my followers who may not realize, snow rarely comes to these Oregon hills. Not like the mountains of Montana where I lived for a few years. These foothills of the coast range usually stay green with Douglas Fir forests, even in winter. The middle ground is Pleasant Plain, so called by the pioneers who settled it, the foreground my own oaks. All more accustomed to green. The deep-green river wraps around Pleasant Plain on its snaking journey to the sea.
I step out onto my deck for the early picture. A quick shot. It’s cold out there. In the 20s. We’re not used to that either.
It’s also the view from my office where my stories grow.
The sun lifts higher. I’m just past the three-quarter mark on the outline. Time to turn those waking thoughts into story.
Writers wonder these kinds of things–perhaps most often when they face a blank screen.
With my last project pretty well wrapped up it’s time for me to start a new book. I’ve had some ideas already. Took some notes. Worked out a potential storyline. Named some characters. I put all that away over the holidays and had other things to do. Now it’s time and procrastination begins.
How do I make the story live? Yesterday I spent all day renaming my protagonist’s little brother. I like the new name, and it stirred other thoughts. I began to envision scenes. Today I opened the window blinds and noticed the fog rising on the river, like dreams, like story. By afternoon a feeble sun broke through, and I grabbed a coat to head out for my walk.
So many ideas emerge on those walks. Fog still rising. Rolling down the river between the oak hills and timbered slopes. The story will come. I just have to let it in.
(Photos taken with my new iPhone on the family farm.)
The popular Authors & Artists Fair in Eugene, Oregon, is coming up soon, next Saturday, December 10, and I’ll be there again this year selling my Oregon Trail stories–A Place of Her Own and Nancy Pearl Book Award finalist The Shifting Winds. Both books follow my theme, weaving stories of strong women through history. A Place of Her Own portrays my own brave great-great-grandmother who took that formidable trail to a raw frontier. It’s a true story but reads like a novel. The Shifting Winds follows fictional characters into a lot of real history during a critical conflict between the US and Britain over who should win the rich land of Oregon.
I’ll be at the fair in the afternoon only, from 1:30 to 5 pm. It’s a great day for shopping! Check out the poster below for more details.
Folks showed up with happy faces for the return of Fort Umpqua Days after two years off. One of my favorite things about presenting my books at these events is all the stories I hear. People are curious about my books, of course, which delve into the area’s fascinating history. But so many people have stories of their own that they’re eager to tell. I love hearing these. I came away from this two-day event, head full of so many individual histories. My thanks to all who shared a bit of their worlds.
I also love the costumes many people wear for the occasion–the reenactors as well as the actors who perform in the nightly pageant, portraying stories of the era. I was happy to see reenactors Karen “Many Voices” Haas and her husband, Patrick, back again. I met Karen at the last Fort Umpqua Days in 2019 and featured her in a post back then. The two are shown in the previous post. We had a good visit yesterday. They stopped by my booth, looking quite fine, as if they had walked right out of the past.
Robin took a few more photos at the event (shown below). I’ll let his pictures speak for themselves.
And one more favorite Robin Loznak photo from a past Fort Umpqua Days moment:
Fort Umpqua Days will be back this year after two years off, and that seems worth a celebration.
It all begins on Saturday morning, September 3 at 10 o’clock at the Elkton Community Education Center, 15850 OR-38 W, Elkton, Oregon, west of town.
That’s by the popular Butterfly Pavilion. The fort lies just down the hill. It’s a two-day event from 10 to 4 on both Saturday and Sunday, plus evening performances of the annual “Echoes of The Umpqua Pageant.”
This Labor Day celebration has become a tradition in small-town Elkton, Oregon, home of the reconstructed Fort Umpqua, the southernmost outpost of the British Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1800s. It will be good to return to that tradition.
Locals and visitors gather on the weekend to enjoy a parade through downtown, a pie auction, BBQ, live music, tours of the wonderful Butterfly Pavilion, and more. I’ll be among the vendors up near the pavilion, where I’ll be selling my books, stories about Oregon’s dramatic history of those days–A Place of Her Own and The Shifting Winds.
Kids will find plenty of fun, including a voyageur expedition, to see what these fur traders did in the heyday of this fort.
My second book, The Shifting Winds, delves into this era with fictional mountain man Jake Johnston as a good friend of historical mountain man Joe Meek. Both came west to Oregon in the early 1840s after the beaver played out in the Rockies. Once in Oregon they wanted to help their fellow Americans claim the rich Oregon Territory, which was then jointly occupied by the US and Britain.
Folks who reconstructed Fort Umpqua worked diligently to maintain an authentic representation of the original, and people will be on site during the Labor Day event to answer questions.
Reenactors and blacksmiths often attend, showing their work to add more color, and they’re happy to offer information as well.
You might even find a mountain man or two.
Remember Karen “Many Voices” Haas who was there for Fort Umpqua Days last time? I was so glad she showed me how she uses a drop spindle. It’s a device that was used for many centuries, millennia even. I have a character in my upcoming historical series spinning thread with a drop spindle some 3,500 years ago. After watching Karen I was better able to describe the process.
As drought dries the landscape of my Oregon home, turning the green to gold, I dream of the green fields of Ireland.
One day soon I hope to revisit the magic of Ireland. Meanwhile my books take me there.
My upcoming book series features two island settings–Ireland and Crete. For some time I have started this ancient historical saga in Crete, but I’m bringing Ireland forward now with Whisper of Wings as the opening book, where they call the place by its old name Éire.
Irish clan leader Bria knew only peace before the slave traders came, but she must now learn the grief of bearing weapons of war to save her People of the Stones. The Éireanns play a role in most of the other stories.
I first visited Ireland because of my Irish roots. My DNA shows at least a trickle of Irish blood. I know my maternal grandparents were both part Irish. That was enough for me to adopt the place.
By the next trip I had learned more about the stone circles scattered over Ireland and had drafted Whisper of Wings. One more trip helped answer new questions that came up as the series grew. I see another Irish book in the future, beyond the series–or loosely tied to it. The island shall always hold a special place in my heart. The green and the friendliness of its people and the magic of its ancient monuments refresh my soul.
Styles change. Systems change. The Home page has taken on a whole new look, thanks to my daughter Christiane. She handles this portal to my website–which takes more technological know-how than I have.
The Home page banner photo shown above is one I took on my last evening at Rosscarbery, Ireland, on a recent site research trip to Europe. This bay provides a setting for many scenes in my upcoming ancient historical saga, the Distant Glimmer series. In the stories it’s called Golden Eagle Bay for the nearby Golden Eagle Clan. Today’s locals call this Owenahincha Beach on Rosscarbery Bay.
The new website design better showcases my available books too–A Place of Her Own, about my great-great grandmother Martha’s trek across the Oregon Trail, and Nancy Pearl Book Award finalist The Shifting Winds, about a young pioneer woman who finds herself in the midst of a clash between the US and Britain over who gets the rich territory of Oregon.
I have always used WordPress for my blog and a few other pages, while Christiane maintained Home, Bio, Books, and more. Now everything but the Home portal is WordPress, and I can maintain those on my own. With my former theme retired from WordPress I decided to pick a new theme so the entire site presents a new, more open face.
You’ll see the Home banner echoed in this banner for the other website pages, a photo taken earlier on the same beach that evening. This one shows the point of the eastern headland on the left. The Home banner shows the western headlands reaching out on the right, the headlands on either side seeming to embrace the bay.
During a fierce storm a lost ship crashes on that eastern point. From the now book one of the series, Whisper of Wings: “The ship had not found that gentle center, but the jutting crags of a promontory with its sharp outlying rocks.”
You can find more about my currently available pioneer stories and the upcoming saga on the Books page.