2/04/06 (though posted 2/05, it was written late 2/04)
Yes, I skipped a day. Rats. But I’m back! (See, that’s why I write that so often in my journals.) I finished Fellowship of the Ring last night and started The Two Towers today. Boy, J.R.R. Tolkien was an incredible writer! Listen to this description of Rohan:
Turning back they saw across the River the far hills kindled. Day leaped into the sky. The red rim of the sun rose over the shoulders of the dark land. Before them in the West the world lay still, formless and grey; but even as they looked, the shadows of night melted, the colours of the waking earth returned: green flowed over the wide meads of Rohan; the white mists shimmered in the watervales; and far off to the left, thirty leagues or more, blue and purple stood the White Mountains, rising into peaks of jet, tipped with glimmering snows, flushed with the rose of morning.
What? Are you serious? The combination of colors in that paragraph blows my mind; and yet it’s not forced. I’ve written stuff like that, with a bunch of different colors, but that is something else. And really, The red rim of the sun rose over the shoulders of the dark land? That line is incredible! And flushed with the rose of morning; the shadows of night melted, the colours of the waking earth returned – you can see it all! It’s a strange land that we’ve never been to, and yet with incredible ease he describes a landscape complete with directions and physical layout and emotions and burning colors! – I bow my knee to you, good sir Tolkien. If I meet you in heaven I would very much like to shake your hand.
Such a pale comparison my own writing is, like the landscape I sought to describe the other day. Alas! If only I had not let this sword of mine grow dim and discolored. But, I hold to this: that, through hard work, diligence, and perseverance, the blade shall yet again be reforged, the fire rekindled, and that I may as yet wield my pen and paper with similar power and control as those that have gone before me. To that end, today’s exercise shall be a conversation between two people, sitting at an outdoor table in downtown Missoula.
So, the word: imprison.
He sat at the table, his fingers dancing across the dripping glass before him. It was hot out – the air wavered on the street as cars poured by – and the cold water inside the glass had condensed in seconds, cloaking the hand-blown cup with a shimmering waterfall of moisture. It was a cool break from the hot, still air; even if it was only his fingers. But small relief is better than no relief, and so with inward glee he closed his eyes and let the tips of his fingers trail loosely and freely about the glass, imaging that he was not sitting in a chair of metal rods, with the hot wind of cars folding over him every moment, but rather that he lay reclined in some small schooner off some sunny, empty beach, and his hand, as the boat lolled gently in the waves, dangled half in, half out of the cool, relaxing water.
Grating across the crusty cement, the other chair at the table was pulled out. He heard the sharp squeak of someone sitting and cried out in his mind for the picture to remain, to not flee into the shadows of oppressive reality…but to no avail. The dream was gone, he was once more in that valley of buildings, that hot enclosure of Higgins St, and the water upon the glass seemed to have fled to safety beyond the reach of his touch. Reluctantly he stirred, bumping away from the round impressions the bars of the chairs had pressed into his back, and with a cringe he peeled open his eyes.
Then he felt not a breeze on his face, nor touched a delicious cool, but saw a blessed northern breeze, for sitting across from him, checking her shadowed face in a small pocket mirror, was a woman of delightful beauty. While the surrounding buildings were gray and brown, that rust color of yesteryear’s building material of brick and stone, she wore the softest of blues and the creamiest of whites. Her blouse, which rested like leaves upon the streams, was settled gently on a slender torso, open slightly at the neck so as to uncover that dimple between the collar bones. A creamy white, flat sunhat, with a small impression in the middle for her head, haloed her soft face and diffused the harsh sunlight into a gentle kiss of light upon the smooth skin of her cheeks. Her jaw belied a firm resolve and strong will in her heart, and eyes that were quick and sharp looked fixedly at the mirror, intent on this one task before her and distracted by nothing else. The heat which the cars blew upon him as they passed seemed to be change as they neared and wrapped around her, becoming a quiet breath that gently lifted the delicately curled, flaxen hair that rested on her shoulders, and he fancied he saw in the locks those great plains of wheat that lie unending in the prairies.
She looked at him as he straightened, and the corner of her soft lips lifted ever so slightly in a heart-warming, sincere smile. “Good day, sir,” she said with the clearest of voices, and he felt as though the heat of that day was lifted from his weary frame.
“Ma’am,” he replied, and his voice caught. He coughed at the catch and reached for the glass. What water was left he swallowed as she smiled yet once more, and that small swallow of water was the best of its kind for many years to come. He sat the glass down and wiped his mouth. Sitting back straight against the chair, he leaned to one side in feigned nonchalance and surveyed the traffic – though keeping a corner of his eye always upon her. “What brings the lady out on a such a day like today?”
She settled her lips into a amused smile and pulled a small case of makeup from her purse. “Should I be elsewhere?” she asked, with a hint of hidden laughter playing at the edge of her voice. He quailed at the sound but resolved to sit strong and composed.
“To that effect I said nothing, ma’am. I merely meant that today is exceptionally warm, and that usually a, a woman of your…”
“Station is usually the ending of that phrase,” she offered as she went back to the mirror.
“Well, yes, station, I suppose you could say, if you take no offense to it.” She shook her head and delicately reapplied her lipstick. He coughed and rested his hands on his legs, back straight, watching the traffic race by (though of course he kept a corner of his eye directed her way). “I mean to say that, given today’s heat, most people are indoors, enjoying the pleasures of modern conveniences.”
“Indeed.” The pocket mirror clicked shut and was stowed in the purse, along with the lipstick. Then she applied her attention to him, though keeping her body faced to the road as before, and it was a sly look of coyness that gazed at him from across that metal-wrought table. “And how does the outdoors imprison you so? Surely a man of your station would be far better suited for the cool breezes of a gentleman’s bar than the boiling noon sun.” This she said without the slight condescension, and he marveled that she had not returned his slight.
Feeling sweat upon his hands, he wiped them slowly across his legs and swallowed hard, though quietly. “Well, ma’am, I must say I, for my part at least, enjoy the heat, insomuch as it allows my mind, as is my particular gift at certain times, to wander to those far off places that might be better suited for enduring heat such as today’s.”
“Indeed,” she said again, and he, looking fully upon her with all of his eyes, saw within her smile not aloofness or derision, but that comfortable, happy friendship which one finds in the eyes of close acquaintances. It truly was a remarkably composed, confidently assured, delightfully accessible woman that sat across from him, and he marveled at his fortunes. “Well,” she continued, and rose. He felt compelled by chivalry and stood with her. She smiled at the gesture and returned it by lightly curtseying. “I believe I must be off. Good day to you, sir.”
He nodded his head in a bow as she turned and walked down the sidewalk, a floating sky and cloud until she turned round the crumbled and countless times repaired corner of the buildings of Higgins valley, and slipped from sight.
Strength left him, heat washed back over him, and he collapsed in a heap upon his chair. “Well indeed,” he said, and returned to watching the waves upon the street.
Wow! That was pretty good! Of course, I think I spent close to half an hour at least on it. But who cares! That was pretty good! (sigh) I’ll take it. Oh the blessed flow of rich writing. Indeed. Here’s to hard work, diligence, and perseverance!