The sun never rose this morning, at least not in our woods, at least not that I could tell. The day was textbook dreary. One shade of gray. When the dog and I headed out for our morning walk to the gate, I thought about books I read as a child that described a woman and her hound walking the moors. As we left the clearing and entered the canopied woods, I wondered whether the coyotes were back in their dens, whether Lou and I might look like a tasty breakfast.

I’ve walked this path almost daily for close to twenty years. There is a surprise, a treasure, a scare, or an epiphany nearly every time. Today, the shapes and colors of the leaves underfoot drew my eye. The tip-end of the Florida panhandle has identifiable seasons. Garnet, sienna, and ochre leaf colors penetrated the bleak landscape.

Later this afternoon, sitting in a circle of light at my desk, the call of barred owls was loud enough to hear through insulated house walls. They must have been close. It’s a riveting sound, terrifying and magnicent. Symphonic.

cooking up memories

Forty degrees and the promise of a sunny day this Gulf coast Florida Thanksgiving eve. Soon, the Longleaf Bar and Grill — loving nickname for our kitchen — will sing with aromas that evoke memory and story.

Onion, celey, leeks, carrots, wild mushrooms, yellow squash, pecans, red cabbage, bacon, tart cranberries slow cooked with apricot jam and Grand Marnier, sweet potato pie oh my, and can’t forget corn pudding.

But first, grind those beans. First principle of my kitchen is hot, fresh, strong, black no cream coffee, and lots of it. Joy-bringer.

butterfly summer dreams

Swallowtail butterfly on Blazing Star

Lou Lou Belle, the little Chocolate Lab, doesn’t care that it’s drizzling rain. It’s nearly 8:00 a.m. here in panhandle Florida, long past the time when she and I would be out walking the woods or at least the sweet third of a mile from house to gate. Local family is coming for Thanksgiving lunch Thursday and the kitchen calls. Buck is recovering from surgery and sleeping a little more than usual. Me? I have a fresh mug of dark roast coffee, a circle of light at my desk, and memories of our butterfly summer in the Longleaf woods.

just checking in

Are you okay? Am I? It’s a reasonable question, even in the best of times. And, God knows, for most of us, the “best of times” may seem far away, maybe on a different planet, a more innocent, quieter, kinder place.

I was a pioneer blogger in the Way Back Machine of 2003, when what we called the blogosphere really did seem like a quaint neighborhood of nerdy explorers, slightly giddy with our newfound access to the Internet. Slow dial-up speeds notwithstanding, it was nothing short of a miracle.

None of the bloggers I knew were selling anything. We were adventurers, each sending out an electronic message in a bottle, thrilled out of our gourds when someone across the country or in some other continent responded with a hello back. The good old days.

You all know what it’s like now. If you’re here, are you okay?

Are you writing, making art, inventing things, teaching or mentoring, building something, composing or performing, or gathering pinecones or stones to adorn your dining space? Are you okay?

I have spent several weeks deconstructing all of my old blogs that have been set to “private” for a year or more. It took a lot of time to copy each one and save as a Word document, print out, and organize into ring binders. Some of my writing was published during those joyful blogging years.

My intention in this ritual was to delete each post once it was saved into Word and printed, until none remained. And that’s exactly what I did. The main blog and a couple of short-lived successors, disappeared post by post. I thought of the Cheshire Cat. I started with the most recent, then traveled back in time, all the way to 2003.

That reverse time-traveling revealed a powerful memoir. Emotions swamped me, stalling the process. But I finished yesterday, more than 2,000 printed posts stacked up on the dining table.

“Thanksgiving,” an inner voice nagged. “People are coming. You have work to do.”

All day long, I dawdled. All that was left of my life in the blogosphere was to hit a few final delete buttons and remove the master account.

Instead, here I am, tentatively reaching out into the void, wondering if a few kindred creative spirits are still in the room. I hope you are and that you’re okay, too, and ready to kick around some ideas with an old head like me.