Reading in the Woods

As you all know, I was able to sell a second short story entitled Kitsune Tea,” using my pseudonym, E.A. Lawrence and it was published in the anthology ROAR 7 edited by Mary E. Lowd.

Prior to going on my recent camping trip, I finally got my paperback copy in the mail. It was a delicious feeling to hold the book in my hands, drink in that new book smell, and caress the pages that held my imagination. Let me tell you, that is the best paper I have ever felt in my life. This whole selling-my-fiction-for-money thing is a dream that I’ve been actively pursuing since I was nine and getting to see my work in a BOOK is a dream come true.  I feel triumphant and energized and hopeful that my story will make people smile. Optimism about this being but one step in my literary journey with more to follow in the not-too-distant future is also revving me up.

Since I got the book in the mail before my trip, I figured that I would bring it along. Why not? Paperbacks are tough and what better place to read a story set in the woods than actually sitting in the woods? I guess that I’m a little method but who cares.

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Campsite by E.A. Schneider

We got to the state park in the upper midwest and set up camp in a nice clearing. Like most state parks there was a picnic table set on more or less level ground and a fire ring. The site was surrounded with a nice mix of hardwood deciduous trees with a full, bushy understory and a wet spot/creek bed running through the area. It was lovely.

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Butterfly feeding by E.A. Schneider

My friend and I did our hiking and came back to camp later than we planned to cook dinner but, no big deal, right? Well…we weren’t alone. Remember all those lovely big trees with a moist bushy understory surrounding our site? At dark  we quickly realized that there was a meso-predator who called the site home and he wanted something besides the numerous cricket frogs in the moist spots to eat. A raccoon wanted in on dinner and was  quite bold about saying so. It was clear that people had fed him. This raccoon approached the picnic table even though we were there and started chewing on the tied up garbage bag before my friend shooed him off.

As we sat at the picnic table eating our campfire food (delicious baked stuffed onions and cakes in oranges), the raccoon kept creeping up. I have no doubt that if we had been less antagonistic in waving our lanterns at him, that he would have felt comfortable sitting at the table and helped himself from our plates. Being us, we disapprove of such shenangins, wildlife should be wild thank-you-very-much, and were careful to clear everything edible up and away in the car for the night. I rather thought that, without anything in sight anymore, that the raccoon would put his energies toward other foraging and leave us to ourselves.

We pulled our camp chairs to the fire and settled in to relax. I had a cup of tea, my lantern, and my book. I even took a picture of the first page of my story for posterity because why not. There were stars gleaming above between the tree-tops, more stars densely packed in that one clearing of sky than you can easily see from my whole backyard, and it was a lovely quiet night.

 

Then my friend saw the raccoon, driven by curiosity to explore our picnic table. He trundled off after we snapped some pictures. The pictures were not terribly good but it had been worth a try. Again, I figured that he would move on and went back to reading my story.

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Raccoon on the table by E.A. Schneider

As I read my story, getting drawn into the suspense and keen to see that the copy was clean, I was startled by that elemental pricking at the back of the neck one reads about in books occurring on my own neck. I heard paws treading into camp. The raccoon was back again to verify the absence of goodies. This time I snapped a decent picture of the interloper, he scampered off, and that’s it, right? Nope.

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Yeah…I’ve been having fun with the Make It Stranger font generator. I love the show “Stranger Things,” and the font definitely captures the suspenseful feelings of the night with some humor.

Again, I was roused from concentrating on my own story, during a chase scene no less, by the shuffling paw steps of the raccoon coming toward our fire from the other wooded side of camp than the picnic table. I could hear the raccoon’s paws moving through the underbrush and leaf litter. I don’t know if he was that loud, it was that quiet, or my hearing is that much keener than I thought. I couldn’t see him, my eyes were dazzled from the whiteness of my page, which only added to the primal anxiety aroused by the situation. My friend and I both jumped, startled from our separate pursuits by the raccoon’s intrusion. Why would he come back? We had no food left out, we were just sitting there. This was incredible. In all my time in the woods over the years I had never before felt the scrutiny of an interested predator, albeit a small one, in my movements, environment, and objects. Feeling encircled and studied by a wild animal bent on exploring our space and stealing our food definitely added an extra dimension to reading my story.  All the suspenseful bits of “Kitsune Tea” had an extra edge to them than there would have been if I had elected to read the story in an armchair at home.

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My favorite picture of the raccoon by E.A. Schneider

I was able to finish reading my story without further interruption by the raccoon and I was happy. “Kitsune Tea”  was as I remembered with a clean copy having nary a typo in sight. I was both pleased and impressed. Going to sleep that night was tough. For one thing I was still excited by the day and having read my story in a book. For another, the night was teeming with sounds from owls, crickets, cricket frogs, cicadas, the murmur of other campers at other campsites, and other unknown rustlings in the woods.

I also kept thinking about the raccoon. How many calories did he get from campers? How did he choose which campers to pursue and which to avoid? From a raccoon perspective, the site was perfect habitat with those trees, water, and frogs so the human element might just be the cherry on top rather than the main draw. It was fun to ponder. I have always been fond of urban wildlife and the ways in which they thrive. A raccoon living in a well attended state park might not be exactly urban but he certainly knew the perks of the human herd. I don’t know if there is a sequel to “Kitsune Tea” in my brain yet or not but, after my experience with that bold little raccoon, I think there very well might be another adventure set in my imagined Maintou State Forest in the not too distant future. We’ll see.

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Trees in the dark by E.A. Schneider                                                                                                                I freely admit that this is not a good picture but I like the different tones of green and I like remembering just how densely packed with stars that little spot of blackness was.

All in all, I have to recommend reading in the woods generally and particularly reading my “Kitsune Tea” in the woods if at all possible. It was fun. I hope that my encounter with a raccoon made you smile, dear pond readers. Do you have a raccoon anecdote? Do you  have a comment or question? Please, leave a comment below and thanks for stopping by the pond today, dear readers.

 

 

P.S.: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. If you buy this lovely ROAR 7 anthology published by Furplanet publications through this amazon link: ROAR Volume 7, I will get a small advertising fee. I hope that these fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

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Flash Fiction: Directions by E.A. Lawrence

Recently, I went on a lovely camping trip in the woods with a good friend. It was so nice to be out in the forest breathing in the smell of detritus, bark, and rain kissed wind in good company. We had some fun adventures that have provided me some much needed creative fodder. I took hundreds of photos and shockingly enough many of them are quite lovely. No doubt several will be wending there way into my pond posts over the coming weeks so stay tuned, dear pond readers.

Tonight, I got to sit down in a local coffee shop with some up-tempo folk music from a local band and actually begin the fun process of photo editing. That could be a whole other blog post(s) for another day, I do so love me my editing. At the moment though, I want to share a bit of creative writing that I did tonight. It flashed into my mind as I looked at the image below so, naturally, I seized my fountain pen and journal to write it all out before the muse flitted away again. Here it is, dear pond readers, enjoy!

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The offerings by E.A. Schneider Photo taken in Blue Mound State Park in Wisconsin

 

Directions 

by E.A. Lawrence

You must bring an apple. It must be small, with a flush of red on one side over the green. No, they aren’t that hard to find, I promise. All it takes is a keen eye and a deft hand. Besides, if it were easy to find, it would be a paltry gift; the time is part of the present, you understand.

Anyway, once you find the right apple, you then bring it to the cavern in the trunk. It is carpeted with the finest moss and paved with acorn shells. There is a stone lintel of pale rosy hue at the threshold. I am sure you won’t miss it; for it is just to the side of the path in the wood where the eye is wont to linger.

Once you offer the apple, you must wait by the tree but only a little while. It will be less time than it took to find the apple but not as fast as you wish. If you’re very patient, the tree folk will give you a story. You see them when your eyes are closed or when you’re looking at something else. You hear them when you think you hear a noise but you’re not sure. They smell of something you almost remember. You’ll find the tree-folk easier to describe when you’re there.

Depending on how sweet the apple, the story will savor of delight more than bitterness but remember, a good story will feature some of both. A sour note does not a bad tale make just as a too-sweet flavor may not suit. You’ll see.

Should you grow impatient or weary or frightened waiting on the path and move along before the tree folk do their work, don’t worry. A gift must be reciprocated, the tree folk understand these things. They will give you a story, but in a different way.

The story will take root and grow slowly as your mind turns like so much compost in the sun, trash and unwanted scraps metamorphosing into fertile soil for what the tree folk planted. Word by word, image by image, it will burrow like a worm in your dreams. Sleeping and waking it will rustle as it grows, teasing you from rest and distracting you from labor. The sight of a crow’s back in the sun, the sparkles on the water, the aroma of honey in your tea, and the texture of your favorite walk beneath your soles will hasten its growth.

The story will be as different as you every time you go to the wood with every unique just-right apple you can bring the tree folk.

So, to summarize: find an apple. Take it to the cavern in the tree trunk to the side of the path in the wood and you’ll see what happens next.

The End

470 words

What do you think, dear pond readers? Do you have an opinion on my little bit of flash fiction? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below and thanks for stopping by the pond tonight, dear readers.

P.S. I (Ellen Schneider) am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you buy this lovely ROAR 7 anthology published by Furplanet publications that features my latest short story, “Kitsune Tea,” through this Amazon link: ROAR Volume 7, I will get a small advertising fee. I hope that these fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!