“At first sight the field seemed flawless; floe country. Then I set out across it and started to see the signs. The snow was densely printed with the tracks of birds and animals – archives of the hundreds of journeys made since the snow had stopped… Most of the animal tracks on the course had been left by rabbits. If you’ve seen rabbit prints in the snow, you will know they resemble a Halloween ghost mask, or the face of Edward Munich’s screamer: the rear two feet are placed laterally to make elongated eyes, and between and behind them fall the forefeet in a slightly offset paired line, forming nose and oval mouth. Thousands of these faces peered at me from the snow.” – James Macfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot
I first read this passage from Macfarlane’s book seven years ago, and was stunned by the beauty of this opening story of walking out into a golf course after it snowed. Lately I’ve been looking back on a few books I’d loved before, ignoring for a spell the stack of books waiting for me to make their acquaintance. Life is short and there’s only so many pages to read in the daily march. But I wanted to revisit this magical golf course with Macfarlane, and see those faces in the snow once more. You know great writing when you read it, and for me, this was it.
They say if you want to write better you should read more, and of course get out and see the world. I believe one hand washes the other, and writing prompts me to read and see more too. So goes the dance. I’ve been an avid reader, an eager traveler and an occasional writer. Writing every day has amplified my reading and travel alike. With a few trips planned, both business and pleasure, I’m looking forward to seeing how that travel flavors the writing.
This morning the writing took place back inside in a chair facing back into the room, away from the world waking up behind me. By all rights I should spin the chair around and look outward, but the inward view has its merits too. I came inside as the coolness of the morning air mocked my choice of clothing. It’s August still, but the air says September. Our cat resumed her routine of sitting behind me, covering my back literally and figuratively, should the chipmunks and squirrels stage a late summer raid. She approves of my move indoors, appreciating the company. I think of days to come, and wonder what I’ll write about next. Like a stack of books waiting for you, there are so many stories to get to, and never quite enough time.