Monday, January 14, 2013
"How's the writing going?" my friendly editor asked.
"It would be going better," I said, "if there weren't so many distractions."
"Distractions?" she exclaimed. "It's the middle of winter! You live on a riverbank surrounded by nature. What could possibly be distracting?"
"Oh," I said vaguely, "you know how it is—there's always distracting stuff…."
I didn't tell her, but at that very moment one of those regular distractions was hunched on the nearby window-ledge giving me the doofus-eye between bites of pilfered sunflower seeds. Nor did I admit that, most of the time, the only way I'd been able to hold my train of thought sufficiently to manage our conversation, was to swivel the chair around and keep my back to the window.
Yes, I am greatly blessed. I live in a lovely place; while the cottage is small, and in need of many repairs…the setting is idyllic. I am, as she put it, "surrounded by nature." And a lot of that "nature" wears fur or feathers and does all sorts of interesting things within ready view from my deskside window. Occasionally, it even comes a'callin'.
Like the fuzzy-eared varmint whose photo appears above. He or one of his brethren. They clamber up the stone exterior wall, hop over to the big seed feeder suspended under the eave and settle there chomping away at the free eats. Or alternately hang upside-down by their hind feet and swing back and forth as they stuff-and-chew.
Sometimes they fill their cheek pouch with seeds and come down to dine on the window-ledge—comfortably situated approximately three feet from my keyboard. A for-sure bushy-tailed distraction. And between bouts of gnawing at the stash of filched sunflower seeds, they'll regularly pause and stare inside—rather judgementally, I've decided, since their glare seems to criticize, as if they've caught me slacking off when I ought to be attending to my work.
Well, I would be working if you weren't distracting me!
I try to keep my head down, attention fixed on the screen, ignoring my peripheral vision. The attention-demanding squirrel subsequently resorts to scratching and thumping and nosing at the window pane like a portly hayseed version of Poe's raven.
From time to time I'll hear them make that low, guttural sound which is the squirrel version of a proprietary warning growl. Naturally, I'm compelled to look up. And I usually see the vocal threat had been issued because the seed horde currently claimed as the window-diner's territory, is being tested by an interloper scrounging their own meal.
Yup, distractions abound. I won't even get into birds and their antics. Nor mention the river and the things that go floating down or swimming up. Or discuss the play of sunlight on the sycamores. Falling rain or snow. Or simply the look of the seasons.
Nope. Take it from me, for us outdoor types, such a paradise can be distracting—wonderfully, constantly distracting. And a writer must make a choice—either become its hapless victim or an obliging, enthusiastic, and shameless devotee.
No need to tell you where I stand…right?