Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Third Eye Blinds

Today after lunch, I went for a three mile walk in the neighborhood. It’s an exercise I’ve been perfecting for twenty-four years, always following the same route, passing the same homes, people and landscapes. At my 1.5 mile mark, I turned round and headed home along the postcard beautiful Intracoastal Waterway.

I never tire of these forty minute immersions in urban nature, a landscape manicured yet still capable of stunning wildness. I have seen hurricane driven waves pound across the roadway onto waterfront lawns. Water spouts dancing near barrier islands. Nighttime electrical storms flashing webs of lightening.

Wild critters roam here too. Dunedin is home to ospreys and owls, coyotes, armadillos and raccoons. A run-over raccoon once dragged itself to a church entrance and died, stretched out in prayerful prostration.

Wood storks have also taken up residence. Groups of these gangly birds have moved up from disappearing Everglades wetlands. Magnificent in flight, storks on land shuffle along like old men at the mall. They are safe here and, armed with oversized beaks, fear no dogs.

These things I have seen and in every instance they have come to me unbidden. It’s amazing what one can meet when approaching nature without expectations. Tiny indigo wild flowers reveal themselves near a rain culvert. A belted kingfisher hovers inches above the water.

Today, for the first time, I took along a camera to capture nature. Throughout the walk, my attention remained focused on the next creative shot. I made dozens of photographs, hoping for the best exposure, composition, and interest. The session ended quickly and I returned home feeling like an intruder. Something special was missing and later I realized that today nature had been hiding.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators

SCBWI is alive and well in the Tampa Bay area. A call recently went out from our area coordinator, Sue LeNeve, and on Monday evening a large group of us convened for an introductory "meet and greet" at Bahama Breeze restaurant in Tampa. I was surprised to learn there are presently ten critique groups in Tampa Bay.

When joining SCBWI four years ago, I was hard pressed to find any group in Pinellas County. Now a concerted effort is being made to bring these groups together on a regular basis and have workshops and guest speakers.

This bodes well for those of us who often pause at the keyboard, wondering if we are the only writer in the world stuck on page sixteen with a plot going nowhere.