I leave the keyboards behind. Aside from a pocket-size digital camera, an iPod Nano, and an emergency cell phone, all I pack is a set of fountain pens, small spiral notebook, and thin pad of yellow legal paper. And a new book.
The cold wind surprises me. Balmy days of 1 or 2 degrees Celsius are over, for awhile. Winter may retreat occasionally but she never relents. Not in February. Slushy spots on the sidewalks have turned to ice. Tricky walking.
I listen to a Science Times podcast as I walk circumspectly across icy patches, and hear that birds are being equipped with tiny, nearly weightless, recorders — like miniature backpacks. The data coming in is helping ornithologists track flight speeds and migration patterns. More data on the pile.
What I need today is not data, but understanding. Where is my migration taking me? Is my journal a little backpack recorder? My blog? They tell me where I’ve been. Where am I going?
I crave deliberateness today. I feel driven, and want time and reflection. I sip a Tall Mild and paint words in black ink, watching as they appear on the yellow page, glistening, until they dry. A natural pace. A civilized pace.
Is faster better, or does it merely produce more words?
I read from the new book, In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction. The first two entries astonish me. I didn’t know so much could be done with so little. The writings are like small, perfectly formed footprints in the snow. Intriguing. Just so.
I sense I’ve found a direction. The coffee tastes fine today.