It’s me, Ollie, James’ Old English Sheepdog. I’m writing this during the season of sticks and twigs, or as it is know around these parts, T’aint Nothin’ – they don’t teach that in schoolbooks, but it’s a legitimate season here in Vermont. It’s the time in-between Foliage (yes, that’s an official season too) and winter.
It’s a short season, only a few weeks in duration, ending once the snow starts falling in November. Not much happens in Vermont after Foliage until Christmas week. But those of us who live here welcome the solitude before the winter onslaught of tourists. We get a chance to re-energize after all the leaf-peepers have gone home.
However, James is hunkered down as he participates in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and the November PAD (poem a day) Chapbook Challenge. He’s writing a new novel tentatively entitled Vermont Love Story. He tells me it’s a little more complicated than the 1960’s Love Story, and not only because it takes place in Vermont. A quick synopsis of the novel, which James has allowed me to post here, is:
“Four people fall in love with someone other than their spouses; but not all love is reciprocal. Set in the present day, VERMONT LOVE STORY is a tale of falsehoods and failings, deceit and disloyalty, illness and impurity, where survival is the ultimate goal and pain becomes the crucial healer.”
I can’t wait to read it – well, for James to read it out loud to me, as he usually does. He looks to me for feedback on how well he’s doing. Regardless of how I feel about anything he’s written, I still rub up against him as often as I can.
Oh, and James told me I could use the following excerpt from his novel:
“Love isn’t an emotion easily explained. Nor is it one we can anticipate. It simply happens to us. Like an uninvited guest, love shows up at unexpected times and places. And when that happens, transformations take place that we have no control over. We do reckless things, say hasty comments, and forget where we were headed and what we were doing. It’s even worse when we already have someone in our lives, someone who loves us — who we love as well.”
He’s hoping to complete a first draft during November, but if he doesn’t, he’ll still have won NaNoWriMo if he completes the first 50K words of the first draft by the end of the month. That’s all it takes to be a winner. Of course, James is planning on completing a first draft. Then there’s the finessing and editing that will be required for future drafts.
There is also the November PAD Chapbook Challenge in which James is participating. The final iteration of this will be James’ finest 20 poems from November, selectively placed in a poetry chapbook with each page containing one poem. James is excited about this prospect for the month and hopes he hasn’t bitten off more than he can swallow. Leave it to me to fill you in on these things.
As for the time in Vermont in which we are now, James wrote about it in his “Seasons of Vermont” Poem contained in his collection of poetry available on Amazon.com entitled, Pleasures and Season of Vermont. With James’ permission, I am displaying this brief poem here, in honor of the season:
X. T’aint Nothin’
Passing into November milkweed pods shoot stars on gusts
foreshadowing vast snowfalls.
The in-between time:
trees blown bare display sticks and twigs;
ground turns brownish gray exposing stones.
A time we find ourselves alone — together.
So you know, I love to chew on sticks — twigs were for when I was younger.
We hope you liked the poem. Oh, and be sure and let me know in the comments what your favorite season is, or if you have any questions for me (or for James).
Until next week,
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)