charlie

every day at 5 pm a red-tailed hawk flies over the hillside. when twigg crawford was visiting, he named the hawk 5 o'clock charlie.  recently he requested that i post some photos of our daily visitor, so these pictures are for him (and you.)

i take photos with my iphone, no telephoto lens obviously, but there's something about seeing this hawk from a distance that brings poetry into my life every day at 5.

as you can see, charlie has found--or is in the process of finding--love.

 

Martha's Vineyard

With The Silver Boat coming out April 5th,I've been thinking a lot about the novel's settings, particularly Martha's Vineyard.

A forty-five minute ferry ride from Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the island is magical, romantic, filled with amazing history and secret places.  Narrow lanes lined with beach roses, fishing boats at the dock, salt-silvered shingle houses, lichen-covered stone walls, beautiful ocean beaches, red-clay cliffs, sailboats in the harbors, bright gardens behind picket fences, stately sea-captains' houses, winding roads, shady glens, hilltops overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Vineyard Sound...

As a child I spent much time there with family friends.  Later I found summer jobs, ways of staying on the island for blissful summers while writing about my experience.  My go-to positions were babysitting and being a chambermaid.

My favorite times were spent on Lucy Vincent Beach, playing or swimming with the kids, or riding my bike there on my days off.

I was fourteen.  Beach nights were secret and wonderful.  Older kids would build a bonfire.  Someone always had a guitar.  We would surfcast and swim; one July  night I felt the the scrape of something cold on my leg, and I had no doubt I'd just been touched by a passing shark.

On rainy days I'd take the kids to the Flying Horses in Oak Bluffs, the oldest platform carousel in America.  It arrived on the island in 1884.  I'd ride the merry-go-round with the kids and feel free and happy and somehow nostalgic in a way I hadn't yet understood.

All of these experiences went in deep.  When I wrote The Silver Boat, about three sisters who return to their island home, the only place they've ever been happy together, I drew on memories, dreams, that elusive nostalgia, and love of my own private Martha's Vineyard.

The character of Harrison--the sisters' best childhood friend--seems to be a favorite of early readers of the novel.  I can't wait to introduce you to him--and the real-life best friend who inspired him.

The novel continues in Ireland, home of the sister's long-gone father, and the site of a family secret, but that's another blog post...  (and so is Harrison!)

Ten Ways It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Ten ways it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas: 1) The tree sellers are back in Chelsea.  They were my inspiration for Silver Bells, a Holiday Tale.  From the first page: "Everyone knew the best Christmas trees came from the north, where the stars hung low in the sky. It was said that starlight lodged in the branches, the northern lights charged the needles with magic."

2) Pandora has a Classical Christmas station as well as good old Christmas radio with at least twelve versions (and counting) of Baby, it's Cold Outside.  My mother's favorite song was Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  "Through the years we all will be together..."  I miss her and am feeling nostalgic.

3) Yesterday I brought home a tiny boxwood tree and decorated it with white lights.  While Maggie looks very sweet and Christmassy here, the photo was taken ten seconds before she began chewing on the leaves.  Maisie has taken to batting the ornaments around.  Only Mae-Mae keeps her distance (SO FAR.)

4) The days are getting shorter.  I know about SAD and send love and support to those who suffer from it.  But I love this time of year leading up to the solstice, when darkness covers the earth and drives us inward, to consider our lives, and to draw together--to actively need each other, as a way to chase the shadows...  The stars are bright in the sky, and I dream of going far north to see the aurora borealis.

5) I attended the New York City Ballet's Nutcracker for the first time in many years with the young, beautiful, and graceful Nyasha.  Here we are with Ashley, one of the Snowflakes.

Lincoln Center is always magical, perhaps most so in winter.

6) The lobby of my apartment building is beautiful and festive, and emil and jose (shown here) and the rest of the staff are as always kind, generous, and wonderful.

7a) Festivus.  Our family will celebrate soon in Newport, RI.  Twigg plays an integral role in this holiday.  To keep the spirit alive, we have a festivus pole here in NYC.  It's actually a hollow tree with an owl's roost hole, transported from the Maine woods to my apartment, but I wrapped it with colored lights, et voila.  (That's Maggie, of course, on the sofa.)

7b) I made a pomander ball for the first time in forever.  My grandmother always had one hanging in her closet, usually made by one of my sisters, Rosemary and Maureen.  We had this set-up in the bedroom we shared (or sometimes the basement)--Santa's workshop, and my sisters were the best at making presents for the family.  For a pomander ball you take an orange, a bunch of whole cloves, and some pretty red and green plaid ribbon.  Create swirly patterns by sticking the cloves into the orange.  Or you can cover the whole thing, or make stars or whatever you like.  It smells good but, yikes, my fingers sting.

8.The Empire Diner is no more, and Dan's Chelsea Guitars has moved into smaller quarters a few feet down in the Hotel Chelsea.  The neighborhood is changing, and that makes me sad.  I miss the Diner, one of my favorite neighborhood places, and all the people who worked there.  Renate, I'm thinking of you...

9)  My fingers sting from the pomander ball, but also from playing my baby Martin guitar, on which I'm attempting to write a song, or maybe more like a story set to music.  It involves snow, stars, the tallest spruce in the world, a very wayward cat, and snowflake fairies.  It will be a huge hit on Pandora next year.  There are a lot of C and E Minor chords.

10) I'm giving away Silver Bells--novel and DVD--on my Facebook fan page.  If you haven't already, please friend me, then "like" the fan page to win.  We have lots of fun and giveaways on Facebook...it's a bit more interactive than this site.

If you are on Facebook, I'll be asking about your top ten reasons and hoping you'll let me know.  I'm so appreciative of my readers and all visitors to this site.  I hope that you are enjoying the season as much as I am, and if  you have cats (or dogs) they limit their love and attention for your holiday decorations to the occasional walk-by or curious gaze.

* The painting of of Santa in his magical swan sleigh is by William Holbrook Beard, ca. 1862.   It's on display at Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art.  When I lived in Providence, the image graced my Christmas cards.  Now, saving trees, this serves as my Christmas card to all of you.

No Woods

The area is called Point O' Woods, but now it might as well be called Point O' No Woods. The new houses have air-conditioning—who needs the sea breeze, and who needs shade? Instead of the rustle of leaves overhead, walk down the road and hear the low, constant hum of a big air-conditioning unit.

Read More