Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Seriously, It's Not Always Easy

Fern Lake Trail - photo by Carol Newman

When Gentleman Friend and I were in the Rocky Mountains near Estes Park, Colorado  a couple of years ago, we set out on the trail to Fern Lake. We had finished a picnic lunch beside a stream and hadn't really planned on hiking; but, we saw a sign that said Fern Lake trail. "Oh, that sounds pretty," I said. "Let's hike." The trail was narrow and disappeared into the trees and brush. Gentleman Friend motioned me to go first to set the pace. Off I went. I carried a water bottle that was half full -- or half empty, as it turned out. For protection against sun and ticks, I wore a long-sleeved shirt over a tee shirt. The day was very warm. Not a breath of air moved through the looming trees. Soon I removed the denim shirt and drank all my water.

The trail became steeper and rougher. My pace slowed. My breathing increased. "I don't think I can go any farther." We stopped in the middle of the trail. Then we heard voices. "Oh, we must be almost there." We stepped out again.

Soon a several hikers came around a bend. They wore hiking boots, floppy canvas sun hats, shorts, light tee shirts, had several water bottles attached to their back packs, and carried hiking staffs. I stared. Good grief! They were prepared for a serious hike.

"Are we almost there?" I asked between panting breaths. "Oh, maybe half way. It's still pretty far. It's worth the hike.The falls are great." And then they were gone, talking and laughing as they disappeared down the trail.

I bent over, hands on my knees. "I don't think I can make it all the way." Gentleman Friend looked fine, but, because he is a gentleman as well as a friend, he willingly reversed direction. By the time we got back to the car, my hatless head felt fried , any cooling persperation had dried, and I felt light headed. I had some water from the extra bottles in the car and soon felt fine, but I realized how foolish it was not to respect nature and to set off without being prepared.

This memory flooded back recently when a woman interested in writing for publication told me about a writers group she had joined. "They are so serious," she said. "They go over the manuscripts line by line. They rewrite and move stuff around."  Annoyed at her lack of respect for writing as an art, a profession, and a business, I wanted to say, "Duh." Probably the same thing the prepared hikers felt like saying to me.

I'm looking forward to giving it another try this summer. At http://www.travelblog.org/ I learned that the Fern Lake trail is a "moderately difficult" trail, 7.7 mile round trip, and the elevation of the lake is 9530 feet. The first part of the trail closely follows the Big Thompson River but there are other wonderful sights along the way. This time I'll be prepared because, while I still plan to have fun, I'll take it seriously.

Like hiking, writing for publication must be approached with respect and preparation. It's the only way to make it all the way to the Fern Lake of writing -- publication.


Fern. What image does the word fern bring to mind? Have you grown ferns, are you old enough to remember "fern bars?" My across-the-pasture friend, Shirley, before she moved far far away to Alabama, had a beautiful fern she put outdoors in the summer. It stood on a pedastal in a corner of tall white lattice at the entrance to her beautiful garden. Also, although I have never seen ferns in a funeral home, I  think of them in that context. What is your experience, image, or memory of ferns?

Here's how to use the Launching Pad: write uninterrupted for at least ten minutes without worrying about punctuation, spelling, or grammar. Later, return to what you have written and edit, expand, and rewrite as many times as necessary to produce a polished piece.
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To our life story writers group book party in December, Sue brought a jar of homemade hot fudge sauce. What a perfect hostess gift! The following is not Sue's recipe; hers is so utterly fantastacilly delicious, she should be allowed to keep her recipe a secret forever so I did not ask for her recipe. However, I did find the following recipe at http://www.cooks.com/. I seriously doubt this is as good as Sue's. In the Readers' Comments, one person said she added a bit of salt and one square of dark chocolate so you might experiment with improving it.. I thought about substituting sweetened condensed milk for the evaporated milk. Trader Joe's has an organic sweetened condensed milk. Look for it in a plastic bottle with the packaged milk.


1 6 oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1/2 cup Pet evaporated milk

Melt chocolate pieces with milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan, stirring over low heat until chocolate melts.

Serve sauce warm over ice cream, cake or pudding. Store unused portion in refrigerator; may be reheated in microwave. Makes 1 cup.

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A friend of a friend is using Write Your Life Story in Eight Weeks Workbook, Second Edition to have conversation/interviews with her grandmother about her life and times. The friend is then documenting the stories in writing. You can do the same for family, friend, or yourself. Go to www.angelinyourinkwell.com/buy.html to order. It's fun. It's easy. It's life affirming.

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