Wednesday, May 15, 2013

a morning's walk / rilke and mansfield

I have a writer friend who shuddered when I told her I sat down to my writing every morning as soon as I'd woken and made a cup of tea. She said she has to get into the streets, go for a walk, move her limbs, have a coffee, feel the presence of people. Like me, she's a solitary-seeking person, but this is her routine. After her morning outing, she comes home and gets to work at about the same time that I'm feeling tired, decide to shower and call it quits at my desk for the day.
This morning I had the opportunity to give her method a try. Another friend had spent the night en route between longish bus trips. From tulips in full bloom to a forest that still has patches of snow where her  dog loves to roll. Over breakfast we talked about the why's and wherefore's of writing fiction. The use of Latinate versus Anglo-Saxon vocab. Working within a point of view. I paraphrased my favourite lines from Rilke. Don't tell the angel about your grand emotions and schemes. You can't impress him. He lives in the cosmos. Describe a yellow flower, a jug, an olive tree. She paraphrased Katherine Mansfield. Write about the squeak of the laundry basket. (In both cases, as I said, a paraphrase, and I've now paraphrased what I recall her saying.)

After I walked her to the subway, I decided to keep walking to the market where I had a decaf espresso and a chausson aux pommes. Buttery flake pastry filled with tart apples. 

The wind was cool, but I sat outside in the sun against a brick wall. No one else sat outside. Sillies. Though perhaps they didn't grow up with a European mother who sunbathed on a lawn chair in her underwear in the winter. Find a sheltered spot in the sun and you can be warm even surrounded by snow.
I walked the long way home along the canal. Dandelions and poplars. The stretched elastic band call of the Redwing Blackbirds. Cyclists. Joggers. A group of moms with newborns in strollers being marshalled by a manic exercise sergeant shouting, Knee bends! Un-deux-trois-quatre-cinq! Arms over your head! Twist to the right! To the left!
The morning felt happy. Talking about writing at 8 am. Getting out for a good walk. I may have to try this again... though probably not with a chausson every day or I'll have to seek the services of the manic exercise woman.


  1. Describing the song of a redwing blackbird as "stretched elastic band" -- that makes me want to go up in the field, sit and listen. I love their call but have never tried to put it into words. Won't do that today, either: it's raining in North Hatley but I still have to put annuals into planters.

    1. I'd like to hear how a blue grass musician would describe the song... someone who can better decipher that sliding/plucking sound.