Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Odyssey

I watched the sun rise over the foothills this morning from the window above my kitchen sink. There wasn’t much rosy-fingered dawn, but it was still a vibrant sight. Most of the year I have to imagine it, but now that the leaves are down and snow is on the ground, I can hum Here Comes the Sun (Abby’s favorite Beatles’ song) and really mean it. I’ve been lucky enough to see the sun drop behind the Camden Hills overlooking Penobscot Bay and into the waters of the Florida Keys, too. I never take a sunrise or a sunset for granted, for it means I’ve earned another day, probably to waste, but there’s always a chance for glory.

I’ve seen some neat things in my travels. I rode down the Grand Canyon on a mule once. I was so scared that I had my eyes closed some of the time, but the mule was well-trained and knew where he was going. The fact that I had to throw my clothes away---the combination of stark-terror-sweat and eau de mule was overpowering---was a small price to pay for mostly seeing a Natural Wonder. I’ve stood in an abandoned ring of standing stones in Great Britain, mist creeping in, visited a “thin place” in Scotland where any moment it seemed Rob Roy MacGregor (or at least Liam Neeson) might appear, driven along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, the rugged cliffs and ocean one of the most beautiful sights on earth. Lights of Vegas. Central Park in the summer in love. I’ve been lucky, even though travel with all its associated headaches is not the lure it once was.

Where have you been that’s left a lasting sense of place? How do you incorporate that in your writing?

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say it's all right~ George Harrison


BernardL said...

Actually, I have a moment very similar to yours. Two friends and I took off for California after graduation in 1968. We traveled in a little Renault Dauphine. The Grand Canyon was one of our stops. Being naive young Ohio rubes, we decided to jog down to the bottom. A guy outfitted for the trek, who was hiking, took one look at us and said, “no hats, no canteens, you won’t be jogging back up”. He was right. We did meet up with him at the first water stop on the way back. He was glad to see us. He thought he’d have to send the rangers down for us. You remember I’m sure how coated the path was in flies and their donkey and horse food source. It was a memorable hike back up. :) And yea, every event we live through colors our writing.

Terri Osburn said...

I think I'll just write down that list of places you've been and title it places I want to go. I've been to the Caribbean, Toronto, lived in Nashville, spent a NYE on Beale St. in Memphis, Niagara Falls as a little girl and now live at the ocean and love it. I've yet to get to the west half of our country and my dream is to get to Europe someday. I'll be doing NYC for Nationals in a few years (2011?) but I might get there before then.

I think living in the south for more than 10 years has made me understand how different places have their own character. Dialect, pace and even attitudes are unique everywhere. Knowing where someone is from tells you a great deal about them so that fact would naturally carry over to creating characters.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Bernard, jogging? Yikes. And I forgot to mention I'm kind of afraid of heights. They tell you to keep steering (not the word? I'm NOT a rider) the mule to the very edge, because mules aren't suicidal and they'll recognize they'll have to be careful. I was sweating bullets.

Terrio, I hope you get to go exactly where your heart desires. I'm a water baby myself, now living near the mountains, which are okay...but give me the ocean, a river, a stream, a puddle.

Gillian Layne said...

If I ever make it to the setting(s) in my stories. . .

Honestly, hard to imagine anything living up to my imagination. And I'm a homebody.

Santa said...

Ah, Maggie, you can take the girl out of LI but you can't take LI outta the girl.

I've seen Montreal at night from atop Mont Royale. I've climbed, white knuckled, to the rooftop of Il Duomo in Milan. I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and got to see two of my favorite places - NYC and Brooklyn. I sang Beatle songs with my friends at dusk in an old villa cum youth hostel in Florence. I walked in the footsteps of the VonTrapp family in Austria. And when I got off the plane in Rome, I felt as if I'd come home.

Carey Baldwin said...

Oh, Maggie! I love the new look! Well, Havasu Falls (in a side canyon of the Grand Canyon) left an absolutely magical impression on me. I wound up writing a scene into Chapter two of Twist where the H and H journey to Havasu Falls and make their first real emotional connection.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

India, I confess "The West" kind of scares me. I feel very dwarfed underneath the big sky and red rocks. I guess no matter where I go, I'm an East Coast girl at heart (a Long Island girl, in fact, Santa!). But I love how you used your experience in a key scene.

Santa, love the sound of your various trips. Italy is on my list of places to visit before I die. I have a picture of my 90-odd year old Austrian grandmother feeding the pigeons in Venice, so if she can do it, so can I!

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Gillian, I'm a homebody too. In fact we have a snow day today, and you've never seen 2 happier people than my school principal husband and his library clerk wife!

Keira Soleore said...

Oh, Maggie. How beautiful! Loved your post. Hawaii does that for me. And anywhere really where I can hear, see, and smell the ocean. It takes me inside myself and stabilizes me--almost knits me together again.

MistyJo said...

Maggie, great imagery. You make me want to hop on a plane and see the world. :-) There are so many places in this world that I want to see.

As for my travels, there have been a few worth remembering. I've seen cozy love chapels with smoking chimneys nestled in snow on Tahoe Mountain on a Valentine's night. I've held my breath while driving across Hoover Dam and driven along Route 66. I've seen Big Ben at noon and layed my head on the "actual" block where Anne Boleyn supposedly lost her head at the Tower of London. I've seen the sun set and rise in Key West, and I've played at Disney World.

Terrio, what year did you party on Beale Street for NYE? I was there in 1999/2000.

Janga said...

You all make me long to see the scenes you describe. I am not a world traveler, so I know I risk sounding unbearably provincial when I say that I can't imagine a sight more beautiful than the South in spring when azaleas, dogwood, and a host of other flowers cover the land. I love these lines from the Indigo Girls' "Southland in the Springtime":

"There's no place like home and none more pleasin'
Than the Southland in the springtime.
In Georgia, nights are softer than a whisper
Beneath a quilt somebody's mother made by hand,
With the farmland like a tapestry passed down through generations
And the peach trees stitched across the land."

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Janga, I'm with Dorothy. There's no place like home. I lived in Tidewater Virginia for four years and will never forget the springs there. Here in Maine, fall is so breathtaking it almost hurts to look.

Keira, the smell of the ocean! There's nothing like it. I was a real beach baby growing up, iodine and baby oil all the way, unfortunately.Wear sunblock, everybody!

Misty Jo, Tower of London! What an extraordinary place. And the ravens are the size of mastiffs! I have a picture of the four kids with a Beefeater on my desk.

irisheyes said...

I've walked through Mozart's home. I've danced in the gazebo where Liesl and Ralph danced in The Sound of Music. I stood in front of Notre Dame. I've seen Mt. Rushmore and Niagara Falls and Mickey Mouse (in California and Florida). I've toured Canada on the back of a motorcycle. But one of the sights I will never forget is The Grand Canyon in February at about 11 pm with snow on the ground and a full moon. It was amazing.

I've travelled more than I thought I would when I was younger. The older I get the more of a homebody I am becoming, but there are still some places I want to see. I'd love to visit England, Scotland, Ireland and Italy. It's also becoming real important who I travel with. Being with the right travel partners can make all the difference in the world.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Irish, you wild woman you! A motorcycle! I've loved reading about everybody's places. And the best thing about being an armchair traveler, my hair is still in place.