(I’m almost there — the finish line is just around the corner. By the end of the week, the book that has been my primary project for the past year will be sent out to print. And it is the wrapping up that feels the most poignant, the reflecting on how this is a project that has been a lifetime in the making. And somehow it is easier to write it as a blog post, this list of thank you’s that truly cannot be contained in a one-page essay. So here it is, a draft of the final page from the book that I am about to birth: Ebb & Flow: Celebrating Mom and Life at the Cove.)
Go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows. Rainer Maria Rilke
Our lives move forward through time that we measure in quantifiable ways. I see this forward motion as I travel to Maine and visit the Cove. I see it in the trees, the ones no longer there and the ones that have grown huge. The scraggly pine that clung to the rocks at Cap Point and was a focal point of our view from the cottage window during childhood summers in the sixties blew down in a gale decades ago, and the island cedars with root balls small enough to squeeze into bait buckets and carry back to the Cove after early morning boat rides are still there rising toward the heavens in a hedge that our father planted in the sixties. I see it in the people, too, this movement through time. The old ones have passed and the babies have been born, and we, the siblings and cousins of the fifties and sixties, are now the elders. And yet, we carry our childhoods within us, and it is easy when you’ve been raised on rugged rock and slippery shores to find your youthful feet again when you return to the coast. And the rocks, the feldspar and the granite, the veins of quartz and the flecks of garnet, they hold their form — and the sea, it smells of salt and fish, just as it did during our youth. And the tides, they are a constant; they flow in and they flow out, and the moon hangs over the spruce trees and the sea gulls cry. And when I am present, truly breathing into the moment, it’s all here for me — the stories and the people from my youth, the sun beating down on me on this day, a glimpse of tomorrow. And this fullness of life, this richness of a place I hold dear and a mother who lived there for fifty years, this is what I’ve brought to the pages of this book.
Ebb & Flow reflects this forward motion of time as it chronicles the year of my mother’s passing, month by month, and yet time is unleashed as well and the pages are full of memories and poems and Mom’s sketches and paintings; her recipes rise up as the tide pours in and a quote from her is left as the tide recedes again. Ultimately, it is a celebration that has been years in the making. And there are so many people who have been a part of this celebration. I thank them all. I thank those who have been involved this past year in the actual organizing of the book. Muriel Hendrix, my dear friend and sister writer who spent ten years living in the cottage next to my mother at the Cove, I thank you for your brilliant suggestions as to how to structure the manuscript, for your careful editing of text and layout design, for the fun that we shared during weekends in Maine as we wrote and hiked and ate amazing meals. And Stephanie Lake, this manuscript would be a cut-and-paste job stuck together with glue sticks and tape if it wasn’t for you and your ability to take my ideas, the ones that float around in my head, and make them look even better on paper. What fun it has been to play with you this past year. Your computer skills and your artistic flair shine through in the pages of this book and I’m forever grateful. And Shelly Ruspakka, not only are you my daughter-in-law extra-ordinaire, but you are editor extra-ordinaire as well. I thank you for your keen editing eye. And to my fellow writers and friends and family who have cheered me on over the years as I’ve written and told my stories and poems and essays about this place that I love and this mother who lived there, I thank you all. And a special thanks to Diane Sautter, who brought her fine editing skills to many of my poems, and to Paul Lehmberg who showed me that non-fiction writing can be fun and creative. And then there’s the bigger picture, how this book could not have been written if it weren’t for the Cove and the time spent there. And so I thank my siblings, and my cousins on the other side of the Point for sharing these memories, for their part in my stories and for the stories that are theirs to tell. And to my father, who was steward of this land and captain of our ocean adventures and lover of life, I thank you wholeheartedly. Your enthusiasm pours through me each and every day. And to my mother, chief playmate on this journey, it has been an honor to stay present through this whole process. I thank you for the spirit that you brought to your living, for your love of the sea, for the paintings and sketches and recipes that live on, for the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that you continue to guide and play with me as I move forward on my path.