Teachers Write 7/7/14: Mini-Lesson Monday: You Come, Too

Welcome to writing camp, everybody!

Teachers Write! is a virtual summer writing camp for teachers and librarians. Click here to sign up if you’d like to join us!  If you’re on Facebook & want to also join our group there,here’s the link. Then click “Join Group.” And please click here to sign up for my email newsletter so that you’ll get updates throughout the year.

A quick note about blogging your Teachers Write experience: There will be daily opportunities for you to share and interact with one another in the comments section of each post. It’s great if you also want to set up a blog where you share all of your writing from this summer. One important request: Our guest authors have given permission for their lessons & prompts to be shared on the Teachers Write blog only. Please do not copy and paste the mini-lessons or writing prompts – publish only your own writing on your blog. If you’d like to reference the ideas shared here, providing a link is the best way to do that. Thanks!

Three quick things before we get started today…

1. Teachers Write is an online summer writing camp with more than two dozen published author-mentors who donate their time to work with us. It’s free. There’s no charge to participate, but we do ask that you buy a few books over the summer as a way to support the authors who are supporting you. Our request: choose one book from each of our three main “all summer long” authors – Kate, Gae, and Jo – and at least one book from one of our daily guest authors. You can read about all of our author mentors and find great books here. If you truly aren’t able to do this financially, we understand that and still want you to write with us. We’d love it if you requested these books at your local libraries & signed them out.

2. Our weekly schedule will look like this:

Monday Mini-lesson, and a Monday Morning Warm-Up on Jo’s blog
Tuesday Quick-Write
Wednesday is Q and A day – authors will be here to answer your questions!
Thursday Quick-Write
Friday Feedback on Gae’s blog, and an occasional Friday feature here, too
Sunday Check-In on Jen Vincent’s blog

3. I’ll be popping in to comment, and I know many of our guest authors will, too, but since this community has grown so much (we’re more than 1400 teacher-writers strong now!) you’ll also need to commit to supporting one another. When someone decides to be brave and share a bit of writing in the comments, or when someone asks for advice or feedback, please know that you are welcome (and encouraged!) to be mentors to one another as well. Watching this writing community grow is one of the best things about being part of Teachers Write.

Today’s Monday Mini-Lesson: You Come, Too

I fall in love with places.

I can’t think about the drenching afternoon rain in Costa Rica or the creaky bridge over the creek behind my childhood house without sighing. And many of my favorite books are my favorites because they transport me so fully to a different place and time. The Revolutionary New York of Laurie Halse Anderson’s CHAINS. The small-town New Hampshire parade of Linda Urban’s THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING. The gritty inner city streets of SCORPIONS by Walter Dean Myers and the Boston landmarks of Erin Dionne’s MOXIE AND THE ART OF RULE BREAKING. As a reader, if I can not only see your setting, but also smell its air and hear its song, I’ll come along with you anywhere.

Writing, in many ways, is an invitation to come along someplace. Robert Frost knew this when he wrote “The Pasture” (from North of Boston, 1914)

I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha’nt be gone long — You come too.
 
I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha’nt be gone long — You come too.

Those tiny details – raking leaves, the mother’s lick of her calf – make good on Frost’s “You come too” invitation by taking us along on the walk. And we can all do this as writers.

Last night, we hosted my son’s graduation party at the house. Maybe my favorite moment was near the end of the afternoon, when all of the teenagers swam out to our raft and the neighbor’s float nearby.

photo(177)

If I wanted to share this moment in a way that brings you into my yard, I might start with a free write:

The kids have left us late this afternoon, for that small, square island of independence seventy yards from shore. The girls are on one raft, stretched out  to soak up Saturday sun. On the other, the boys stand awkwardly until somebody shoves somebody and there is leaping and laughing and splashing and so much teenager joy that I ache from missing it already, before they are even gone.

Now, I kind of like this snippet of writing. But in order to bring you closer, I’ll want to bring in more of the tiny details – those that go beyond the expected sun’s warmth and light shining on the waves. Sometimes, when I’m searching for those unexpected details, I like to isolate senses and write about one at a time. So I might spend a minute or two focusing only on the sounds of that moment. This is easiest if you close your eyes and only listen:

Call from the house: Do we need more ice?
trampoline springs as the kids bounce – sproing – squeak – sproing
Neighbor’s porch door slamming
wind rustling the oak leaves that hang over the deck
scrape of a metal spatula on the grill

Then I might isolate only the sense of touch – scratchy grass under my bare feet, the tickle of a bright green, newly hatched bug that’s landed near my elbow. And smells – hamburger smoke, sunscreen and bug spray, new cedar mulch from the garden we cleaned up just in time for the party, and that lake-smell that is half fresh and half fish. You get the idea…and then I’d go back to rewrite the passage sprinkling in some of those had-to-have-been-there to notice it details to make the piece more alive.

The kids have left us late this afternoon, for a small, square island of independence bobbing in the lake-wind seventy yards from shore. Here at the deck tables, hamburger smoke drifts through the sunscreen-and-bug-spray air of summer. I wiggle my toes in the rough grass under the picnic table and listen to their cold-water squeals over the hush of rustling oak leaves above. The girls are on one raft, breathing in the cedar planks and lake air, half fresh and half fish. They stretch long and tan, soaking up Saturday sun, while on the other float, the boys stand, arms folded over their chests until somebody shoves somebody and there is leaping and laughing and splashing and so much teenager joy that I ache from missing it already, before they are even gone.

This is still rough around the edges, and if it were to be part of something bigger, I’d revise more, trimming words here, adding more there, and playing with the blend of those concrete details and the inner world of emotion as I take it all in. But you get the idea, right?

So here’s your assignment for today:

Take your notebook or laptop and go outside somewhere – your house, the beach, the woods, a city bench…wherever. If it’s raining where you live today, you can sit by a partly open window.

Write a snippet of that moment, just off the top of your head without thinking about the details. Then, underneath that snapshot paragraph, try to isolate the tiny details of each sense with your words.  Take a minute or two to focus only on the details of what you hear…then what you smell…and so on. And then, go back and rewrite your paragraph if you’d like, working in some of those tiny, had-to-be-there details.

In writing, I find that the first details that come to my mind are not the most original. It’s when I really stop and listen to what’s there – rather than what I expect to be there – that I discover the richest details…the ones that invite a reader into the place I’m writing about. You come, too.

If you’d like to share your revised paragraph in the comments today, feel free! If you’re not quite ready yet, that’s okay, too. We’ll be here when you are. 🙂

Want some more inspiration for today? Check out your Monday Morning Warm-Up on Jo’s blog, too!

~Kate

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275 Comments

  1. Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    We take the kids to Vacation Bible School where a hundred eager voices clamor to be heard. The cacophony of talking makes a melody of its own: screeches blend with shouts, harmonizing with children’s laughter. As the music starts, the discussion descends into a murmur. Kids raise their voices, off key, to sing words they have just learned. Some also try to match the movements of the leaders up on the stage. Most are just a second behind, creating an echo behind the song. Giving their full attention to the worship leader, bodies softly bump into each other here and there, creating a subtle rustling of feet as children give each other a slightly wider berth. My husband and I leave the auditorium’s bright lights and loud music to enter the outdoors, where we are met by the ebb and flow of the cicadas’ screeching vibrations. We sweat and walk, listening to the quiet that presses in upon us, interrupted by a distant lawnmower, the intermittent sound of a basketball, smacking pavement, our footsteps creating a synchronous rhythm on sidewalk. We smell the Pennsylvania summer: humidity, freshly cut grass, asphalt. We sometimes hold hands, until they become too slippery to stay connected. We periodically talk in hushed voices. Our legs radiate warmth from within. Then, it is time to return. A rush of air conditioning greets us upon our reentry. The auditorium, previously reverberating with music, singing, and kids’ voices, is silent – empty. We wait for each group of students to return, offering a smile and slight wave to each of our children, as they emerge from their classrooms, one at a time.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Your response to this prompt is so wonderfully, joyfully LOUD. I love your sound-details, especially!

  2. Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I’m at Kings Island today and then heading home after a long 4th of July Weekend. I love this mini lesson. I am sure today’s sights and activities will inspire some kind of writing.

  3. Jen Vincent (@mentor
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    I am excited to jump into a new story with new characters this year for Teachers Write…but also a new place. Starting with place this morning helped me really put myself into the story first. Thanks, Kate!

  4. Kim Dilden
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    It’s almost dark; some people call it the “half-light”, and I’ve read of someone who called sunset “the loneliest time of day.” I agree. There’s something about the end of the day, maybe the end of wasted opportunities, that most always conjures up feelings of regret and, well, loneliness.
    Outside, in the soupy West Tennessee summer, suburbia is winding down. The kids are being called in (still!) by exasperated mothers who are looking forward to bedtime. The faint buzzing of mowers can be heard as the dads try and finish up the overgrown lawns that were the result of a week-long vacation over the 4th.
    My own child has been yelled down, as well. Any moment, I should see him on his bike, churning up the slight hill to our house, his punk-Roman-gladiator-style bike helmet that Daddy bought him for his birthday making him extremely visible from at least a quarter mile away.
    I, too, will perform the litany of bath and bedtime routines: scrubbing down a grubby 6-year old in the bathtub because all he wants to do is pour a plastic cup of water over his head and call it a job well done and whine when Mommy scrubs one of the many scrapes, bruises, scratches, and too-often-itched mosquito bites. I’ve learned long ago to give up the notion of a clean child, especially a clean boy. They just don’t exist, except for early in the mornings, when my son is still half asleep and in the mood for a cuddle, his shampooed head smelling like God.
    It’s a rush-job, the evenings. Fatigue has set in; I’m rushing around because I really don’t like doing all the things that need to be done before bedtime and I’m wanting to get it over with quickly. Maybe this is why sunset is the loneliest time of the day. I know we’re gearing down, this day lost forever, this moment already in the past even as I write this.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Love how specific your details are – from the bike helmet to the “soupy” summer air! Thanks for taking us along.

    • Terry Turner
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      I love “his shampooed head smelling like God.” I often read people saying they love the smell of their children/infants’ clean hair, but this captures the emotion of those snuggled smells. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • Emma Kress
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      There are so many lovely, original phrases here–soupy summer and suburbia winding down….
      Love this.

    • Posted July 9, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      I love this!

  5. Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this mini-lesson Kate. Here’s my attempt (yes, edited but it still needs work):

    I dream of living in the country, and for a few moments every morning I live that dream. If I hurry, I can be outside when the birds begin to awaken. Today I hurry and am greeted by the cool morning breeze that gently stirs the leaves of the red maple in my yard, a swooshing that sounds like a slowly-flowing stream. The sweet, green aroma of last night’s mown grass wafts my way. I close my eyes and revel in the communion of all living things, the wind a soft touch on my skin. And then there they are. I wish I knew more about birds because I would know who’s an early-riser by their “good morning!” call. Soon the chip-chip-chip of one bird is joined by the ZihZihZih of another. So many more erupt into song, all distinguishable to my ear, but defying my ability to assign a sound to them. In full chorus, their song tricks me into believing I’m in a forest. Then a car door slams and I begin awakening, reluctantly. A small bird lands in the grass. Chirp-chirp-chirp. The dream remains mine, if only briefly, for as long as I want it.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Wendy, thank you for sharing your piece so soon! You’ve given me inspiration for mine.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Wendy, love your paragraph. I think we’re on the same wavelength this morning! Deb

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Love this, Wendy! I’m a morning moments person, too, and especially appreciated your onomatopoetic bird calls here!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Wow! I loved it. I could hear the sounds and feel the wind. Awesome job.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Great sounds, and I share that wish to identify. I particularly love that earned last line, a summing up after the particular details.

  6. Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I got teary-eyed twice – once for the title of your mini-lesson (at the risk of sounding cliché – Robert Frost is my favorite poet, and his words make me feel melancholy) and again at your paragraph since my youngest just graduated. I love the mini-lesson. Thank you.

    • Leigh Zika
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      He is one of my favorites, too, Holly!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Kate and Holly, I feel the melancholy too. My youngest graduated HS this year and will be off to college in less than 1 month! I’m dreading that day as is my husband. So happy for him, but scared of the changes coming for me. Not sure if that even makes sense, but I am trying to savor each moment this summer as you both are I’m sure.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Congrats – from one weepy mama to another. 🙂

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Yay, Holly! So glad we are here together. Happy Teachers Writing camp!

      • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

        Margaret – Don’t you feel like we’re journeying together these days? 🙂

  7. Brian Rozinsky
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    A picture from recent travels inspired this writing. The last sentence was one of the first to occur to me; the detail of the pine needles came during the focused sensory brainstorming that Kate prescribed…

    It feels like nothing but me and trees and the path pointing straight through the forest. Monotony settles in with the low hum of unseen insects and the higher note of bike tires skimming asphalt. Stands of pine stretch to either side, tall and tightly packed enough to shade almost everything. Pedaling through a pocket of light, my nose warms with the sudden scent of fallen brown needles, toasted by the sun. The only other breaks in the landscape are sandy crossroads every few kilometers. They point west to the coast, but the idea of pushing my load through unyielding sand snuffs any temptation of cool water. Instead, I settle on a landlocked metaphor: my bicycle is a boat, crossing an ocean of trees.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Thank you for sharing, Brian! One of your lines resonated with me, “Monotony settles in with the low hum of unseen insects and the higher note of bike tires skimming asphalt.” You captured this feeling well. I felt as if I was on my bike for the experience.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      This is beautiful – the pine needle smell detail was my favorite line, I think. I could smell them, too!

  8. Marci
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    As a writer, I am a work in progress, but here is where I begin.

    My escape awaits with the gentle push of the chipped black handle. Quietly, calculating the closing of old screen door, I find my small paradise. In the massive trees across the street three owls echo hoo, hoo, hoo. The birds are chirping and eagerly talking to each other in the crisp, cool air. As I step onto the dry patio carpet, the 1980’s chiseled glass table and the green and white rocking chair begs my arrival. With a hot,black coffee in hand I make its request. Sitting on the porch in the early morning hours breathing in the beauty of a summer morning a quiet peace slides into my soul.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      I love this, Marci – and I think as writers, we are all forever works in progress. I know I am, too. 🙂

  9. Kristina Paustian
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Just returned from a week at our beloved cottage on Lake Wisconsin where I did a lot of free writing about place. I decided to use a mentor author for inspiration this summer, so I am using the poetry of Theodore Roethke to inspire my writing about nature and inward journeys. Thank you for inspiring me to take another look at it to revise it!

  10. Leigh Zika
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Going to go ahead and just jump off this cliff…
    7:00 AM on a Monday morning. Skies clear after a stormy Sunday afternoon and a warm, sticky evening. The wind has shifted slightly and softened, more of a Sophia now than a Gail. It curls lightly through the leaves and needles of the trees surrounding my deck…rustling here, rippling there. It reminds me of the way a butterfly flits from blossom to blossom…pausing long enough for nectar here, lifting off instantly there. It\\\’s capricious, this breeze…carrying along with it the quiet scent of rain-fed lake and damp duff; the sound of morning fisherfolk off to work and, in the distance, the low rumble of machinery grinding up for the day.
    In the nearby, pairs of busy new parents swoop from hidden nests to scratch and peck the ground or to hop through the damp yard grass…searching out a just-right tidbit to drop down a hungry throat. I catch their motion as they hop into the hidden recess of a thick cedar or leafy aspen, disappearing as completely as if they had stepped through a time portal, only to reappear again mere moments later, take a few short hops and swoop out for another cache of food. In the closest aspen, out near the tip of a branch that wavers just feet beyond the deckrail, one brilliant yellow finch sits alone, singing a happy phrase, while all about us is the peaceful bustle of forest-folk getting on about their day. 10 calls, 15…perhaps 17…and then he\\\’s gone. Rocketing off in search of whatever a gorgeous goldfinch fellow has to be doing on a quiet, sunny morning in July.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      So glad you decided to leap, Leigh! I so enjoyed this – especially your description of the birds, which I caught myself whispering aloud. Always a sign that you’ve chosen some wonderful, vivid language.

  11. Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    The air hangs heavy from being trapped in the showroom all night. Slowly, the cool air pushes it away as the coffee drips into the glass pot waiting. Waiting. Car doors opening and slamming, CNN providing a soundtrack to the room. The red shirt approaches…the waiting customer holds her breath…CNN fades into the background as she hears the news about her car.

    I had to take my car in for service today, so I decided to try the mini-lesson here. I’m sitting in the waiting room. Hoping that came across in the paragraph above.

    • Tammy Petty Conrad
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Nice idea to write about the showroom, yes they always have a tv on and coffee brewing! What about the sounds the other waiting customers are making? There’s usually a mom and young child there too (at least when I go).

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Michelle,
      So fun to see you jumping right in today while you wait for your car to be serviced. Who would think you could write about that? The details of the coffee pot, the TV, and the red shirt are great. Do you people watch? Did you overhear a conversation? Eavesdropping is another thing to do while you wait. Although sometimes all I want to do is read my book.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      I love how unexpected places (like this showroom!) can be such vivid settings, too. It’s not always about the birds calling and the hike in the woods. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

      Yay!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      I was in a car showroom today, too! You captured the experience beautifully! I didn’t even think to write about that wait.

  12. Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    A loud, comforting, low rolling horn sounded off in the distance. One bird started chirping, then another. Off from another distance, another horn bellowed; this one gave off a shorter, more fractured sound. Another foggy day, I thought to myself as I lay in the enveloping comfort of my pillows, sheets, and blankets. I was suddenly aware of the cool air drifting in from the open windows. Between foghorn bellows and birds chirping, a sea lion barked two miles away on the pier. There’s nothing like the calm stillness and sounds of a summer morning in San Francisco. As I rolled over in bed, and pushed a large down pillow to the side, the small clock on my bedside table blinked a muted orange 5:42. Why can’t I sleep in? Then it came again, the loud, comforting, low rolling sound of the fog horn. Foghorns, birds, sea lions: San Francsico’s personal alarm clocks. Rather than futilely attempting to fall back asleep, I gave in to the morning. A different fog horn sounded, now closer, louder. The low, long roll brought a small smile to my half-awake face. My back arched, arms stretched out above my head, and legs bent as I arose, pushing more pillows to the side of the bed. My smile grew even more. Good morning, San Francisco, my city, my home. What do you hold, awaiting for me today?

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      This is so lovely – I love that you even made us feel your morning stretch. And this has made me even more excited for a quick trip to SF that I’m taking later this summer. Looking forward to hearing your foghorns for real!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

      I love this piece Christina, especially the orange clock and the sea lion alarm clocks. Happy writing this summer!

    • Joanne Toft
      Posted July 8, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Christina – I love the sounds of the early morning. Perfect!

  13. Cathy Duffy
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    My deck in the summer is truly my happy place. I love visiting it at any time. Today there is an usual July breeze rustling through my giant oak. My favorite time is morning. Today it is so quiet I can hear the wind the leaves and the lofts sing with my wind chimes as it’s base. I’m hanging with my Yorkie Scully newspaper and Special K cereal with blueberries. Normally if I can quickly scan the headlines before running out to teach I’m lucky. But in the summer I can pour through every article even the mundane business section which I can find interesting in the summer.

    • Jen Battles
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      I’m on my deck this morning, too!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      What a lovely slice of life, Cathy! It’s interesting to me how the most specific little details (Special K vs. just cereal) make things so much more vivid. Thanks for sharing this!

  14. Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    My response is on this google doc. Any comments are welcome. Thanks Kate for great inspiration to start Teachers Write!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      This is totally fine, Deb – but if you do want to share in the comments, I think more people are likely to see your words & comment if you paste a bit here. Totally up to you!

      • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        Ok, here goes….

        I sit on the shaded concrete step, observing the suburban neighborhood before me. Two streets, Blodgett and Benton, intersect to form a “T”, with an occasional car slowly passing, breaking the quiet peace of this Monday morning. Cassie, my 10 year-old tabby, stretches across the rough, concrete sidewalk, waiting for the sun’s rays to warm her aging muscles. I hear the squirrels racing across the asphalt-shingled garage roof, drawing my attention and Cassie’s, though she only observes, too old for the chase. Mixed melodies surround me from the variety of birds in the trees. I wish I could identify them all, but I find peace in their lilting, cheerful songs. The hum of an air conditioner kicking on warns of the rising humidity, the moisture-filled air beginning to break through the shade’s coolness. More intrusion…a large truck rumbles slowly down Benton Avenue, a heavy load of materials for the new house-mansion being built two blocks away. I see the rich green of the grass and trees shading our streets, the honking of the geese overhead reminds me of natural beauty of the park and pond at the end of the block, but, my peace is gone as a jet thunders aloft, in its landing pattern for O’Hare. After it will come another and another, all day long. More dissonance from the street crew installing new sidewalks one block north, then more traffic as commuters use our block to bypass the busier routes. This neighborhood has become too busy, too noisy for me. I long for a lakeside quiet, with water and nature’s songs my sole morning serenade. I’m ready to move.

        • Kerri Schegan
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

          I like the contrast from the peaceful beginning to the noisy ending, when the rest of the world wakes up and breaks the quiet.

  15. Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    What a great mini-lesson to begin our first week! Thanks. I’m anxious to find someplace to “camp out” for a little while and complete this lesson.

  16. Jen Battles
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Ok! So excited to begin; so nervous to share!

    Ms. Woolf suggests I need a room of my own, and she is right. I have staked claim to my sanctuary in the 8×15 lofted planks of wood attached to the entrance of our home. My best thinking occurs here, on this perch, in early morning and late evening while bird songs and interstate traffic serenade me. I sit on rattan and wrought iron, my feet resting on faded boards who stain was supposed to be guaranteed for five years. A basket of red and pink pansies bought from a clearance rack of distressed plants hangs from scrap stainless steel, forged into a piece of almost-art by thoughtful husband, shows promise after a couple of weeks of careful tending. The July sun warms things up on my south-facing deck, and I prepare my cup and myself to return to the air-conditioned comfort of my kitchen, but then a breeze moves through tree leaves and notebook pages. I am moved to stay a bit longer.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Oh, Jen – you invited us into this lovely writing space so beautifully – loved your details. Thanks for being brave enough to share!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Such great imagery! Really enjoyed reading your piece Jen

    • Jen Kraar
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      You really make us feel the uniqueness of your place. I love the last line!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      Jen, Your first few lines really hooked me! I can hear that interstate song now …

  17. Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Trying to be the good student on day one of Teachers Write, I went outside on the deck in south Louisiana heat to bring you this description:

    A friend once told me that cicadas only buzz in the evening, yet they have not stopped today since the sun came up. Mid-morning and their cry increases to a symphonic sound–violins strumming off-key. This is the sound of summer. The sun glares through the cypress tree like a spotlight warming my neck. I shield my eyes. Humidity is rising after a “few days of weather vacation” according to Dave, the meteorologist. I feel the wet heat in my pores sifting out in sprinkles of sweet sweat. I will return to the fake cool of air-conditioning. But for this small moment, I sit under the canopy of green cypress and listen to the cicada symphony crying out its heated hymn.

    • Jane
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      I can feel the heat and hear the drone of cicadas, A vivid description of summer in the south.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I could hear the off-key strumming of the cicadas, and I felt a pang of desire to sing along. =)

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      I love this, Margaret – such great details to share your cicadas with us all!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      You’re such a descriptive writer! My favorite line: I feel the wet heat in my pores sifting out in sprinkles of sweet sweat

  18. Sarah Boeckman
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    A wonderful mini-lesson to get the pencil moving across paper! I think this will be a great activity with my students at the beginning of the year. Here is my attempt, and while I know it needs work, if I make my students write and share, then I should too! :o)
    Sitting at the glass top table in the backyard, the chirps, twitters and tweets of the birds try to rise above the drone of the air conditioner. As my eyes sweep across the yard, they come to rest on the all too silent trampoline with the kids away at camp. A high wind rustles through the oak leaves and turns them inside out. The smell of the coming rain lies heavy in the air, but that doesn\’t bother the tiny hummingbird feeding from the bright pink Hibiscus flower.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      So glad you shared this, Sarah! It will be a great mentor text for your students, too. The trampoline detail made me smile – ours is so noisy & squeaky all the time, but I miss that sound when my daughter is away for a day. It’s funny how the absence of a sound adds so much to a piece of writing, too.

  19. Beth Sanderson
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I am in Chicago today and thrilled to join this community of writers! I walked out by Lake Michigan to write today.

    In Chicago, the lake is ever-present. On blustery, bone-chilling winter days people downtown comment “The winds are coming strong off the lake today,” whether they are or not. Summer brings flocks of kids, bikers and sun worshippers to the beaches that dot the shore. The scent of sweet scent of suntan lotion mixes with the heavy air on hot summer mornings.

    For me, the lake is a promise. I can imagine stepping off the dock into a small boat and then the world. As I sit on the shore, the promise is visibile in the small details…light bounces and diffuses as the lake’s surface gently shifts. Small fish dart in and out of the sunlight. They can swim anywhere, free as can be. A noisy abundance of birds fills the trees, rustling the leaves. Out at the lake’s edge it is easy to forget that a concrete jungle looms just behind me.

    • Beth Sanderson
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      oops! The last sentence of paragraph one should just read “The sweet scent of suntan lotion…” 🙂

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      I ran along your lakeshore, Beth, when I was in Chicago for a school visit this year, and I love how this piece brought me back there. You did such a wonderful job painting that contrast between wild water and the city looming behind it.

  20. Rose Cappelli
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the great mini-lesson, Kate. I write a lot about my backyard and garden, so today I dragged a patio chair to a different location for a different perspective. Favorite line:
    At the back of the garden, tiny yellow flowers on the lone tomato plant signal the promise of a juicy, red treat come August.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      A promise that your fellow gardeners understand so mouth-wateringly well. Thanks for sharing this!

  21. Maureen Riordan
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Last year, I wrote but never posted. This year I am trying to be brave so here’s my first post.

    On this bright sunny morning, I found myself sitting under the hunter green canvas umbrella of our worn glass patio table by the pool, sipping freshly brewed iced coffee, typing my thoughts on my laptop as I listen to the chirping birds calling back and forth to one another from high in the rustling trees, almost drowning out the constant hum of the central air conditioner. Despite the warmth of the late morning sun, I feel a cool breeze blowing my hair, still damp from my morning shower and bending the tall apricot colored day lilies that I transplanted last summer. I was up earlier when Mark left for his course after much cursing that he had accidentally spilled black coffee everywhere, including on himself. After helping him clean up the mess while he hurried to change clothes, I returned to my comfy king-sized bed for a few more precious hours of blissful slumber. Going back to bed…a luxury that teachers only seem to get during the all-too-short weeks of summer vacation. Our teenage daughters are away enjoying themselves at my sister’s trailer in Maine until late tonight. So I am home alone….well except for the cats…. for the first time in…well, it’s been so long I can’t remember. A day to myself! A day stretched ahead of me full of possibilities. Which one to take? As I stare at my ghostly reflection in the glass screen of the laptop and watch the puffy clouds slowly drift behind my head, I ponder my choices and then decide. I listen to the mostly melted ice cubes softly hitting one another as I take one more sip of now lukewarm iced coffee, close my laptop, and begin.

    • Beth Sanderson
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Maureen — I love your ending! I can hear the sound of the melting ice cubes as they shift in the glass. Then you leap into action…lovely image. Glad you chose to write. Thanks for sharing.

    • Morgan
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Maureen, what a great way to go public. I especially like how your sentence lengths match the pace of your morning. Long sentences let the minutes pass slowly; then as you amp up to begin your day of possibilities, they get shorter and more energized. Awesome!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      So glad you posted! I loved the specific details, and especially the ending, where you left me wondering what activity you chose to pursue.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Maureen, I’m so glad you’re back – and feeling brave. This is a great snippet of morning. I especially love the details of your reflection in the laptop with the clouds and the sound of your melting ice cubes. That’s one of those sounds we all hear but never quite take the time to think about, which makes it a great detail to include, I think. It helps to capture the warm morning so well.

  22. Jennifer Kraar
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this exercise – I really loved that it made me notice more sensory details. Shh! Don’t tell anyone bubut I did some of my laps with my eyes closed so I could listen/feel/see better.

    “We’ll have to continue this conversation later!” The harsh thing my boss said at the recent meeting still rings in my ears as I strode down the hallway to the pool. Flip, flop. Flip, flop. Opening the slick glass door I am met with a wave of humid air and the sharp smell of chlorine. I shed my terry robe and hang it on the hook mounted on the tile wall. I flip, flop, flip, flop to an empty lane. The rippling clear surface of the pool breaks as I plunge in. Warm water envelps me as I glide like a frog underwater. On the bottom of the pool light and dark shadows dance. From the neighboring lane a soft, firm instructor’s voice addresses a handful of bobbing heads, “Raise your arms. Bend. That’s it!” Below the surface I swim back and forth, again and again. I absorb the sound of a hundred monks softly chanting which actually is the humming sound of the pool fans. Lap routine finished, I don my robe and stroll down the narrow hallway. Flippity, flop. Flippity, flop. Now I can face later.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      I love this, Jennifer – and can relate to it so well as someone who spends my stress energy on exercise and always feels better after. I love the sounds here, the image of you as a frog (I just saw one swimming that way in a mountain pond last week & could picture that so well!) Thanks for sharing today!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      “Flip, flop, flip, flop!” I love your use of sound in this short piece of writing! And the frog gliding under water…YES!! 🙂

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      You got a great sense of contrast by starting with the first line from the boss and ending with monk-like pool fans and flip flops. I smiled!

  23. Kerri Schegan
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I teach half days in the summer at my school’s summer reading program. I’ve made it a goal this summer to walk to and from school as many days as possible. I was working on this in my head as I was walking:

    Main Street in Kutztown reminds me a lot of a beach town. All that’s missing is the salty air. As I walk down the street, the steady hum of traffic has a soothing effect, much like the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. The smells of fried food, pizza, and fresh made doughnuts mix together in the light breeze that momentarily blows the hair off of my shoulders. I window shop as I walk, browsing colorful jewelry and gently used books. I can feel the warmth of the pavement through my flip flops. The brightly painted ice cream shop tempts me, but I keep walking – when I finally do get to the beach this summer, nobody wants to see that ice cream on my hips!

    I hear footsteps slapping the pavement behind me and instinctively move over to allow a jogger to pass. Cyclists zip by almost silently. Children talk and laugh as they build a tower out of blocks on their front porch. If I closed my eyes, they could just as easily have been building sand castles. Farther down the street, a few college girls are laying out on their rooftops in skimpy bikinis, while their shirtless boyfriends toss a football back and forth on the pavement below.

    As I feel the pleasant tingle of my muscles from all of my walking and the sun bathes my face and arms in its warmth, I realize that the same sights, sounds, and smells that have fueled my love of the beach for so many years are also what made me love this town and want to make it my home.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Kerri, thanks for sharing this today. I love the way you structured this short piece, comparing this place to a beach town – such wonderful parallels between the beach/inland town details…building with blocks vs. sand. It was such a unique lens for studying a place you love.

  24. Megan
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Here’s my attempt, titled “A Mother’s Quiet”
    With my eyes closed and my mind clear, I relax on the my screened-in porch as the comfort of childhood memories surround me. The years I sent laughing and playing with my sister, the tears I shed with my parents and the times I sat alone to enjoy the breeze. Knowing where I am sitting now was built with love and sweat over what felt like a very long weekend with my truly handy and extremely handsome husband, provides me with more than peace of mind but rather an abundance of love.
    The sweet voices floating up from the basement make my heart warm and my face smile; as I know that my greatest accomplishments are enjoying not only being sisters but also best friends. In the stillness, I remember the days when I played without a care in the world as my loving mother watched over me. Maybe I am becoming my mother and maybe just maybe I am proud of that. Proud that a tradition of loving, caring and raising independent young women is continuing right here under my roof.
    The wind gently whispers reminding me that it is important to relax and take time for me. In the quiet I am reminded not everything has to or will get done today. My borrowed library book begging to be read, my new school computer (that I earned by giving up two days in the Summer for training) and my mid-afternoon glass of wine all remind me that the little things matter most and that I am blessed with an abundance of “little things.”

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      I’m glad you shared this, Megan – such a lovely reminder that little things matter so much, in both life and writing!

  25. Jen Battles
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    So excitd to begin; so nervous to share!

    Ms. Woolf suggests I need a room of my own, and she is right. I have staked claim to my sanctuary in the 8×15 lofted planks of wood attached to the entrance of our home. My best thinking occurs here, on this perch, in early morning and late evening while bird songs and interstate traffic serenade me. I sit on rattan and wrought iron, my feet resting on faded boards who stain was supposed to be guaranteed for five years. A basket of red and pink pansies bought from a clearance rack of distressed plants hangs from scrap stainless steel, forged into a piece of almost-art by thoughtful husband, shows promise after a couple of weeks of careful tending. The July sun warms things up on my south-facing deck, and I prepare my cup and myself to return to the air-conditioned comfort of my kitchen, but then a breeze moves through tree leaves and notebook pages. I am moved to stay a bit longer.

  26. Joanne Toft
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I thought I would post this before I chicken out – needs more work but at least I got started. Have been stuck for a few days. Thanks for the mini lesson to get me going.

    The fresh laid cedar wood chips give off a sharp scent as we walk down the hill. I hear the noise of the highway behind slowly fading as the trees close around us. The dense heat of the day begins to cool just a bit in the breeze and shade of the woods. The earthy smell of moist ground and rotting leaves takes over with the sound of chickadees, cardinals and goldfinches. My eyes automatically begin searching for plants. What are we looking for today? What would be the best shot sun, or shade? What does she need?
    I am back in my mother’s woods until I grab for my camera with the stiff new strap, its not quite right. I slid back into today with Grandma by my side not Mom. I let the camera slid back around my shoulder and walk on into the woods. I hear Grandma’s sigh, her quiet steps behind me. I know she thought this would do it. I would begin taking pictures, I would begin again but I can’t.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      This is beautiful,Joanne – full of the birdsong and other details of the woods, and then the sharp contrast of that brittle camera strap. You capture not only the beauty but such a sense of loss. It’s lovely – and I’m glad you shared today.

      • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

        Hi Joanne,
        I loved the voice of your character (or you!) in this passage. Like Kate said, vivid details make me feel like I’m there in the woods with you and I feel for your characters, too.

  27. Mary Vosler
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I steal a few minutes to slip out to the back deck to immerse myself into the summer afternoon as a rainstorm is brewing in the distance. I have loved the rain since I was a small child, and this has not changed. Tall evergreens are bending their heads, bumping into their neighbors and blending branches. Windy gusts are making themselves heard, and are now the prominent sound, overtaking the hum of the air-conditioner and even the whir of the skinny deck fan accompanying me in my respite. But now the clouds have gone from dark gray to almost white…was it just a summer tease that won’t deliver after all? The quick chattering of a bird seems to be asking if there is some mistake…do I take cover or soar? The air has stilled to barely a breeze. The garden and I can’t hide our disappointment, as we realize the air is still dry and the promise of quenched thirst unfulfilled. Yet I will remain at my post, under the green awning, waiting for the delicious sound of the first patters that may still be on their way, seeing now that hope resembles the promise of drink.

    • Mary Vosler
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Sorry…it says “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” Not sure what that means I need to do…if anything. Thanks!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      I love how alive the air is in your piece, Mary – both the wild air of the wind and rain and the artificial air that’s part of all of our summer lives. Such great details here – thanks for sharing today!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      Mary, I love personification and your evergreens bending and bumping into each other really made this come alive for me. You really captured the feeling of anticipation before a storm. I’m itching for rain now, too!

  28. gae polisner
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Just scrolled through and am already smiling and breathless at the samples of writing rolling in. And, yes, Kate, yours made me a little weepy. Also making me weepy? the fact that now I remember we have to do math to post to your blog! xox

    p.s. 67+89?!?! That’s a hard one!!!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      I like math better than crazy spammy comments – sorry! (If it’s any consolation to all of you, I have to solve a problem every time I reply to a comment, too. My brain hurts.)

  29. Posted July 7, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I am not a writer – but here’s my first attempt. Edited but obviously more work is needed.

    Cre-e-ak! The door groans as I pull it open. There is a gentle breeze this morning, smelling sweet and fresh. The rustling leaves greet me as the branches gently sway. I step across the flagstone patio to the edge of the yard with shades of green, sloping down the hill, meeting the brush before the lip of the lake. Wiggles sniffs and snorts in the grass, her attention abruptly captured by a small rabbit. The rabbit seems not to sense the presence of a canine, although this canine can hardly be deemed a threat; she’s a pug after all. As I look out at the deep blue water of the lake, I hear slump, then quiet, slump, then quiet. I hear him before I see him. Sean is rowing his scull boat around the rim of the lake. The oars cut into the water, waves rippling outward with each stroke. The water slaps the sides of the boat as it slides seamlessly across its surface. He passes through my field of view in three swift strokes. I wonder how many times he’s been around the lake so far?

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Janie, you know what was interesting to me about your post? Somehow the rhythm of slump, quiet, slump, quiet captured for me not only the sound of Sean rowing but also the feel. My muscles tensed as I pictured him out there in the waves – this was such a wonderful, vivid description.

  30. Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    We haven’t gone on vacation yet this summer, so I went out into our garden for today’s mini lesson. Here’s what I came up with:
    Come! Sit in the garden a bit. Its many shades of green will wrap you up in peace. Take a seat on the Adirondack as the soft breeze stirs up and rustles the leaves, a background chorus for the melody of the windchimes’ song. Sit a bit and listen closely to the buzz of bees flitting from purple cone-flower to bright orange day lilly. Enjoy bird song, twitters and tweets, suddenly silent until an insect begins it chirp joined by others chanting a summer refrain. Sunlight exposes green tomatoes turning them first to yellow-orange and then bright red, ready to be plucked from strong green stems.

    Feel the breeze dance across your face as the sun peaks through branches of the old oak tree, heating your skin until a drop of sweat forms and drops, splashing on your shirt. Take a few steps and sweep your hand through the sharp scented mint, then pick a basil leaf and inhale its sweet and savory aroma, the signature scent of summer. Pinch off a snap pea and crunch down. Taste that sweet freshness! Pick some more for dinner. Check that plump red tomato, is it ready? No? One more day perhaps.

    Come back when you need to retreat from the storms of mundane life. Come back, your suburban oasis awaits!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      This is so lovely, Jocelyn – your word choices are so specific – a great reminder to all of us that a purple cone flower is always more vivid and rich than just a flower in a passage.Thanks for sharing today!

  31. Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I am sitting on my balcony. I hear a roaring sound that sounds like an airplane but continues to drone on, making me wonder if it’s a helicopter or a stunt plane getting ready for the Air and Water Show in a couple weeks. I see cars driving by 28 floors below. The yellow taxi cabs jump out in my sight. Less noticeable are the gray and silver cars. A turquoise sedan catches my eye. I can see the beach from here, and wonder if it’s too cold to go swimming. I see people biking along the paths and wonder if I should go to the gym. My period key sticks and reminds me look at new laptops. There are people walking by the gas station, I wonder what their story is. It is a beautiful afternoon up here, the sun is shining. There are clouds that look like wisps of cotton floating in the infinite blue sky. I hear the drone of the TV, Rachael Ray teaching us how to make a meal quick! There are birds flying through the sky and I hear their songs, or perhaps they are communicating to each other, watch out for that car! I hear a truck rumbling through the street and heavy chains being lifted by the building. They must be starting the window washing project, or they are working on the elevators from the outside. A lawn mower abruptly starts and stops, making me wonder what grass they may be cutting. I look across and there is a grassy rooftop, but I do not see any mower perhaps its mowing by the lake, in all the parks. I see a silver plane fly overhead, where is it going I wonder. I see 2 men moving things up to a 3rd floor walk up. I wonder what they are making, or if they are moving in. I hear drilling in the distance, must be one of the many road construction projects that define Chicago summers. We only have 2 seasons you know, Winter and Construction! Sailboats pass on the lake, one doesn’t have any sails up but is going at a quikc pace, must be one of the ones with a motor. I see people jet sking as well.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Neha, what a wonderful collection of imagery from your Chicago balcony! I love the way your mind wandered here and you took us along on what felt like such a vast trip without ever leaving the balcony.

      • Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the lovely encouragement! I’m excited about this project 🙂

  32. Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Just within reach.
    Standing within a rung of the top of the extension ladder, I strain my arms, swinging the pole saw so the teeth can grab the behemoth of a branch that canopies my doorway. Balancing precariously, I pull and push the saw, the cutting vibrations pulsing through aching fingers, elbows and shoulders. Sawdust shimmers as if falls through patches of sunlight, creeping through the dense shade that I am laboring to cut through. Sweat rolls down my back and forehead, mixing with the bug spray to create a potent irritant, blurring my vision and stifling my breathing. I pause, one hand holding the pole, while the other shades my eyes, trying to see how deep the cut is, and gauge how much longer I must endure this battle. I listen intently, hoping to hear the initial splintering cracks that tell me victory is within reach, but instead am treated to the sudden buzzing of a mosquito that has found a meal somewhere behind my ear. I carefully swat him away, keeping my balance as I hover twenty feet above the radiating pavement, glancing out at the other dozen trees I will wrestle with this afternoon.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      This is just awesome – the smells, the sawdust, the sound of the buzzing mosquito, and the way I felt myself teetering up there with you when I read this. Thanks for inviting us along. Also…BE CAREFUL!!

    • Amy Smith
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Agreed! Be careful. I love the sensory details you empart through describing your task! Thank you for sharing Greg!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

      Greg, the word ARDUOUS comes to mind. I was sweating out there with you!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

      Ooh -you make it sound so miserable! 😉 Wonderful description!!

  33. Pam
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the inspiring minilesson. I loved it! My colleagues and I run a summer writing camp and I thought it would be fantastic to participate in a writing camp along with them. Thank you for doing this!

    Summer Meditation:
    The chair in my backyard calls me each summer afternoon, begging me to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds that this oasis has to offer. As I lower myself onto the sun warmed cushions, the 5 o’clock beginning of the day begins to melt away like a forgotten memory. The shadows of the tree dance across my body as I recline and sink deeper into my cradle. I fade into a summer afternoon dream state as the birds sing me to a quiet gentle sleep. Far away I can hear distant highway noises, people rushing to get to their destination, but not me. I feel my body slowing down and enjoying this short break from reality. As I fall into my summer nap I hear the trickle of the pond and the occasional splash of a fish, a neighbor’s dog barking at a passing pedestrian. With each intake of breathe I fall deeper into my summer meditation.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      I love this, Pam – especially the way you remind us that even concrete, common sounds – the dog’s bark, the traffic – can melt into a meditation. (I’m listening to rain song as I write this, but there’s a fan humming, too, and someone clinking glasses in the other room. I hadn’t stopped to listen until now. 🙂

    • Alli
      Posted July 8, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Love this, Pam. I feel that way often at the end of the day! I’ll come over and enjoy some summer mediation with you! 🙂

  34. Jen Kirby
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Although I don’t feel like I have produced anything “share-worthy” I have had an amazing day thinking and writing. I feel like I have reconnected with an old love, as I have not written for myself in quite some time. What a joy today has been! Looking forward to the rest of the week and summer!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Happy you’re writing with us, Jen! Share when you’re ready – we’ll be here all summer. 🙂

  35. Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I sit in my yard swing listening to the birds chatting in the trees. If I close my eyes long enough I can imagine I am in the Everglades with nature in all her glory. I hear the wind rustling through the trees. The dried palm fronds rub together creating a sound that reminds me of playing the sand blocks in music class. The scratch-scratch sound of little feet behind me prompt me to sit still as the lizards chase each other across the back of the swing seat. Then I hear him. I look carefully at the purple leafed plants behind the swing as they sway back and forth. I imagine the lizards pretending they are on a safari through a jungle swatting back the leaves to get to their destination. I’m drawn back to the croaking sound again. I lift up the cushion that runs the top length of the seat. There he is. My frog friend has once again decided to serenade me as I swing. I gently place the cushion back as he inches closer to me. I close my eyes and listen. There is so much to hear this early in the morning. The cardinals calling out, “sweeter-sweeter-sweeter”, the ravens making their scratchy throated caws. Suddenly a high pitched screech goes out. The air around me is void of sound. It is as if all of the birds no longer exist. I stand and walk to the center of the yard, feeling the crunch of the dry grass under my bear feet. The chlorine my husband has put in the pool stings my nose. I look up and see the culprit. It is an osprey. Now there are two. I rush to the house to get my husband. He brings his camera. In that short trip to the house two more ospreys have join the fun. They fly in and out, gliding on currents we cannot see. It seems to be a well choreographed dance as they look for food. They fly farther and farther away. The air around us is once again full of noise and action as birds take off from their hiding places. At the sound of thunder we head toward the house. A screech calls out again. We turn and look to the sky. There is nothing there. The branches in the pine tree begin to shake. I see a wing and then a fat body slightly hidden. Could it be? Suddenly a second call rings out. The pine needles rattle as first one then another osprey, hidden in its branches take off in search of the meal that had alluded it. I smile knowing I don’t have to be in the Everglades to enjoy nature, she is found in my own back yard.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      So lovely, Sandra! And I am in love with the idea of lizards pretending… maybe that’s the beginning of something more?

  36. Tricia
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Bravely, here is my attempt:
    Summer has arrived. I know because I sit, coffee at hand, listening to the early morning sounds of the neighborhood. The young red squirrel is chirping his way through the spruce branches. The birds have begun their morning check-ins with tweets and caws, sweetly announcing where the new bird seed is out, which gardens have the fattest slugs waiting as they flit from maple to oak to birch. There are cars rushing down the main road, two blocks over. I hear their tires swooshing their way to jobs, “Gotta get to work, gotta get to work.” And my heart sings with the freedom of this summer morning. “No work for me!” The sun is speckling the dew drenched grass that cooled my feet as I made my way to this perfect glider, plumply comfortable with the new jungle print cushions that I found on clearance last fall. I slowly enjoy sips of coffee interspersed with deep breaths of the morning air, freshly chill but with a hint of warmth, the promise of a lovely, lazy day to come. The dog nudges me, unused to this leisurely start. He seems to demand, “Well, if you’re going to stay, give me some attention.” My hand brushes his prickly fur. Sometime, later, he’ll need to be brushed, and I laugh in joyful realization. My list this day will be so different! Brush the dog, read a book, take a walk. Summer has arrived!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      I love this celebration of summer, Tricia – especially the contract of the tire-song, “Gotta get to work” and your own more peaceful refrain. Thanks for inviting us to come along!

  37. Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I am huge wimp about sharing, but if I don’t do it today, I never will. So here goes.

    Promise

    Mid-morning, but the blinds in the house next to mine are still pulled. They haven’t bothered to get out of bed yet, or else took one look at the clouds and gave up, retreated under pillow or duvet. Even the awful woman in the house behind mine, the one who screams all day at her child, is quiet today, her screen door latched: a small mercy. The day of the hurricane I woke to humidity, white sunlight like a promise, gnats diving for my eyes. I went for my morning jog and then, dripping, walked straight into the ocean, back floated through the bay, thinking of the man who, a week earlier, had drowned in the Sound. Not a cloud in the sky, until there were.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      This gave me chills, Valerie – you packed so many emotional details into such a small scene. This piece is a wonderful reminder that good writing doesn’t always have to make us feel happy & peaceful – some of the best sets us on edge.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      That is very powerful!!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      You’ve painted quite a picture. I’m right there with you floating in the bay.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      Valerie, I agree with Janie – so powerful. I loved the rhythm and foreboding in your final line.

  38. Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    A breeze whistles through the porch corridor, and my legs crash against it as they set an old wooden rocking chair into rhythm. Deep rolls of thunder grumble in the distance, while leaves stretch themselves in the breeze, flapping feverishly when the air moves, barely bouncing in the lull between gusts. A fire hydrant, my neighbors’ houses, their trees, and two rows of cracked sidewalks hover in the backdrop, all still but for a swaying flag and a speeding car, slicing the scenery like cupped hands breaking water.

    The air feels heavy and wet on my tongue, but before I can take note of the taste, soft, white slivers crease the sky, falling like iridescent streamers before abruptly morphing into to javelins, ramming against the leaves, the branches, the bushes, and the ground with such fury, they shudder in the wake of each collision. As the greenery bends and arches—first slowly and then explosively—each piece looks like a ballet dancer performing on the stage of my street. The action rises vigorously, approaching a climax that falls only when the sun presses against the gray blanket above, burning up the water—diminishing the intensity—as it tumbles to its denouement and the music finally stops.

    The pounding taps slow to a rustling shiver. The leaves hang, exhausted, drops of sweat lingering on their tips. I sigh in the aftermath, and relish the breeze as it sails once more through the corridor. Mosquitoes appear as the curtain falls, and feeling left out, they demand attention by gnawing on my vulnerable ankles, still busy moving in rhythm: back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      I’m so glad you shared this, Laura (even though the last few lines are making my ankles itch. I’d say you’ve brought your readers into your world successfully!) I love the way all of these pieces are so varied & vivid – like I’ve been in dozens of places from this one reading chair this afternoon.

      • Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

        Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my words. I am so excited about this group. I came across it today and it was delightful to sit on my porch and appreciate the rain rather than stay inside and begrudge it. 🙂

  39. Tammy Petty Conrad
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    This was a great exercise and I have an idea to continue it with thoughts about how my son’s summer days are so different from how mine were.
    Just sitting on my back porch savoring the last cup of coffee for the day. I can’t help but think of all the time I spent outdoors as a kid. Lawn mowers churned down the street and male locusts loudly sang to be heard above the din and find a mate. Both had to compete with the crickets and the multitude of birds, sashaying from stately oak trees to blooming crepe myrtles, alerting their families of approaching tomcats. The symphony playing on my street assaulted my eardrums just like the sun’s rays did my gangly legs as the day dragged on. Realizing the day is marching on without me, I avoid looking at the yard. I don’t want to see the yellowish-green weeds popping out. Once I see one, my free time is over!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Love this, Tammy! We so often think of summer as hot and muggy, sunny and peaceful – but we forget how LOUD it is, too, and you’ve captured that so perfectly with your details!

  40. Phyllis Sutton
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    This is my first year to participate in Teacher’s Write. Here goes….
    After a delightful day of adventures, I am relaxing on my bed. As I turn my eyes to look out the window, the branches of a nearby bush gently sway. The breeze sneaks into the bedroom, kissing my face. The warmth from my computer as it rests on my legs is a delightful contrast. The sunlight peeks through the window and, as my glance moves upward to the skylights, I see blue sky everywhere. The clouds often appear to be painted in the sky…they are just that gorgeous. The space around our rented apartment also serves as a parking lot for people visiting Boothbay Harbor. Occasionally, a car pulls into the lot and the quiet murmur of conversation between the driver and the parking lot attendant drifts into my room. My ears, however, are more drawn to the chirping of birds and loud screech of a boat as it enters the nearby harbor. I have everything I need, at least for this moment in time.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      Phyllis, so many little details in this piece made me smile – especially the so-real contrast of the wind on your face and that hot computer on your legs. Thanks for being brave enough to share on the first day!

  41. Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. Here’s my attempt for today. I was one of those people who had to come inside to write as the storm rolled in. 🙂

    The storm brews creating an ominous air around me. The wind whistles as it drives branches back and forth; gusts hurl through asters that once stood tall . Angry gray clouds roll through, darkening the sky and threatening downpours. The tension builds as the skies wait for release. Finally, they open up. As the thunder gently rumbles in the background, rain falls in sheets, quieting the birds as they find protection from the relentless deluge. Pingpingping, droplets bounce off the umbrella. Water pools here and there, creating puddles that jump up and down as the rain continues to fall.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Julie, this is so loud and terrific (and the skies opened up here just as I was reading your post, too!) Thanks for sharing this and inviting us to come along, too. 🙂

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

      I love the image of puddles jumping up and down as the rain falls. I enjoyed reading your post!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      Love the last line! “Water pools here and there, creating puddles that jump up and down as the rain continues to fall.”

  42. NG
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    I am just going to do it: a short description.

    A Porch View:
    The wind crescendos and ebbs.Then stillness. The bending branches and swaying leaves quiet themselves for just a moment. They wait for the next wind wave. I wait,too. The layered vegetables beds stand firm next to the looming backside of the brown house. Purple yarn entwines the tomato plants to thin green stakes. A smidgen of crayon-yellows cling to large-leafed vines and hint of cucumbers-to-be. he hose loops around and twists across the grass, waiting. The rhythmic twittering of a nearby bird is interrupted by loud fly-by caws against the white-blue sky. The twitter resumes joined by the hum of distant cars. The wind sweeps in again.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      The wind is just larger than life in this piece, and I love that. Somehow, the tiny details of the plants – the crayon yellow colors, the purple yarn – bring us down to earth in a lovely way, too. Also, I am kind of in love with the phrase “cucumbers-to-be.” Thanks for sharing this!

  43. Terry Turner
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    If I don\’t post today, I\’ll likely never post. Thank you for hosting this project and helping us work on our writing skills!

    The children have been banished from the house and now it is quiet enough to hear the dog’s toenails tap softly on the wood floor as she paces past me. A cricket chirps incessantly, in a piercing recruit of a mate. A wave of wind streams through the leaves and into the windows, cooling the cotton sheets on the beds. The children refuse to be banished from our awareness. My daughter screams on the rope swing. Her voice relays a tight wire of terror and delight as she swings back to the safety of earth. The wind whispers to the children, relaying stories of birds swimming through air, their every stroke an act of grace. The children interrupt, rocks against asphalt. They are caught in the moment, uninhibited by fern scented sentiment as it slips past me, taking its turn on the rope swing to soar into the pines.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Terry I loved this line, ” The wind whispers to the children, relaying stories of birds swimming through air, their every stroke an act of grace. ” So descriptive.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Love this! I’m especially fond of the line “a tight wire of terror and delight.” It captures that rope-swinging feeling so perfectly.

    • Allison Giovannini
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      My favorite line would be “The children interrupt, rocks against asphalt.” I could picture their voices cutting through the calmness…

  44. Bryan Devine
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Summertime at my in laws. Same place, same time, just one year later. Summer visits to Poppy and Nanny always include much needed r and r; reading, writing, sleeping, and definitely overeating. It’s been a long 5 months since the call; the call that changed everything. Finding out Poppy and Nanny had been in a freak natural gas explosion while vacationing in Gatlinburg. February touch and go; March finally being able to return to their home in Northern Ohio. Returning home, but just a shell of what they were when they set out six weeks earlier.

    As I lay in the hammock with my head on the pillow and my laptop draped over me; I can’t help but smile. The setting’s the same. The familiar white hammock held up by an old Oak and the backside of their garage. Located in the furthest corner of their clover filled square backyard, just feet from a BP gas station bustling with hurried people, employees, cars, and today the constant beeping of trucks. Hidden from all of this chaos by only by a 5 foot rotting wooden fence and the old Oak tree. The cool Northern Lake Erie breeze manages to find its way to my hammock making this July afternoon unseasonably comfortable. Thankful to be upwind of the BP so I can breathe this country air without the fear of gas fumes overpowering. Overcast skies tease me with rays of sunshine mixed between puffy summer clouds.

    As my eyes start to shudder my mind drifts back to breakfast hours before. The first breakfast Nanny has been able to cook since the explosion. Her southern heritage shining down upon all of as we sunk our teeth into her homemade biscuits, smothered them in a dark sausage gravy still bubbling hot from the skillet. Country fried grits covered in cheese and scrambled eggs made only the way she could make them with cheddar cheese strewn across the top.

    I let out a little laugh as I think back to the spring in Poppy’s step; a spring that has been missing since that fateful first day of February. I realize this breakfast was perhaps something we all took for granted over the years, but no more. A breakfast none of us ever imagined Nanny would be able to throw together again. It’s amazing how such a little piece of time can change so much. How the world as we know it can be tossed upside down by just one phone call. I cling on to this breakfast hoping it’s a sign of better days ahead. Knowing none of us will ever be the same and perhaps, just perhaps…that’s a good thing.

    • Morgan
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Bryan, your piece sets up a nice contrast that I’m noticing is cropping up as a pattern in many of the entries today. It is such an interesting way to express–in your case–the gratitude and appreciation for the experience you describe. From the contrast of the BP and your place in the hammock to the Nanny that was and will be and the way you are all changed by this experience, the richness of your description comes through as much from what it isn’t as from what it is.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      Like Morgan, I love the contrasts set up in your vivid details. The idea that such ugliness can lead to beauty and appreciation is so powerful.

  45. Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this opportunity! I feel writing alongside my students is so important! Your camp is great practice.
    Here’s my paragraph from this morning:

    As I climbed the small hill, I left the shade and the natural air-conditioning of the icy river. I glanced back over my shoulder, and in my memory I could still see my husband hopefully casting this flourescent line as my gleeful daughters splashed nearby. The background noise of the rushing water only added to the refreshingly cool feeling of this secret summer spot. Once more, I watched as my mother ventured in, smiling through the pain of the cool water, so recently trapped at the bottom of a deep lake. In her eyes are memories of the man she loved, wading into this same water in search of succulent trout. Her slow, steady journey shoulder-deep into the water reflected her painful journey after my stepfather’s death. I watched her determination and then her newfound joy as the cold river caught her and she rode the gurgling current downstream, a purposeful rider finding joy through the pain.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      Angie, your details take us to your icy river so beautifully – and boy, do I know that cold water pain, living on Lake Champlain. Such great sensory language here – thank you for sharing!

  46. Sinclair
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    What will today bring to this slice of life that I call the back yard? The sun is shining, wispy clouds float in and out above as life wakes up around me. I can feel the furry rubbing of my cat Aztec,welcoming me to the deck this fine Maine morning! He seeks my attention as I sit down to begin my albeit short summer experience.The birds accost my ears struggling to drown out the loving purr of one happy cat, still rubbing himself into my life.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Aw…

      “he loving purr of one happy cat, still rubbing himself into my life….”

      That line made me smile so much – it’s a great example of the way the right sensory detail can invoke emotion. Thanks for sharing this!

  47. Amy Smith
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    As the door creaked open, the heat hit like an oppressive wall. Taking a deep breath, I stepped into the light and surveyed the scene. The tired afternoon leaked color, grass crisping in the yard, trees drooping toward the earth in an attempt to hide from the searing sun. Even the red brick path looked exhausted, color bleeding into the brown that was overtaking the spring like green. Immediately sweat popped up along my hairline as I surveyed the scene from the night before. Broken remnants of fireworks littered the drive, waving limply as warm swirls of air danced across the yard. Streaks of the abandoned celebration left for clean-up.
    Looking into the distance, dark clouds were beginning to gather, taunting the sunlight and ready to challenge.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      I love your idea of the tired afternoon “leaking” color, Amy – so vivid, and then you extend that with so many vivid details. I’m right there with you, almost feeling guilty I’m not helping to clean up the fireworks mess. 🙂

  48. Stacy K
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    What a glorious night it is on this beautiful day in July. The wind is breezy and soft on my skin and the birds are chirping as if they are texting back and forth some sweet messages. The green leaves are rustling as the wind moves through the stretched out branches. The faint sound of the broken wind chime fills my soul as the whirring of an ATV irritates my thinking brain. The bright green flora of the trees that surround our property give me such an inner calm as the smell of the citronella and lavender incense fills the air. The freshly painted RED, BRIGHT RED house invigorates my creative mind as I sit and bounce as I type.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      I love your details here, Stacy – and the RED (shouting red!!) was a fun bit of color personified. It definitely inspired you today!

      • Stacy K
        Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        The red is RED. I mean RED. I wasn’t digging it, but now it makes me feel more alive and awakened. Thanks for your reply! I appreciate your time. 🙂

  49. Rebecca Kinney
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    It’s different, and very much the same. The taste of warm pine in the air, the rush of the waterfalls blending in with the traffic, the swarms of black bugs that hover in front of my eyes, and the smell of the mossy moist earth at the water’s edge.
    Time and tree roots have weathered the wooden steps down to the little bridge. I no longer have the mountain goat nimbleness of an eight-year-old. Cigarette butts and moist green slime skim the slowly moving water. With sweat trickling down my face I remember when I last swam here. I pushed my friend off the low bridge. We were bickering children with skinned knees and crooked ponytails. I only hurt her pride, which she regained when she grabbed my ankle and took me in with her. The pond soothed our tempers, always hotter, always quicker in the oppressive summer heat.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      I’ve mentioned the idea of contrasts after reading a handful of posts today, and this is another one that illustrates that part of craft so beautifully. Places we love aren’t perfect – they have cigarette butts and bugs and tough-to-climb spots, but including those details can make a beloved place feel so much more real to readers than it might have without any warts, you know? Thanks for sharing this!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      I love the memories of childhood (skinned knees, crooked ponytails), and the smooth flow of your writing. I wanted to keep reading!

  50. Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    I reach into the front pocket of my backpack for my favorite pen, my plastic fuschia pen with the skeleton skull with the inset rhinestone eyes. I should be paying attention to my daughters’ first day of swimming lessons – especially the little one’s first class in the big pool. But my pen has run dry after the first few words. My pen won’t work. I carve ghostly circles into the top of the paper- no ink! I wipe the tip and wish I had something to heat it and clear the blockage. I carve colorless circles over and over and think I should be paying attention to their lessons!

    The students splash in one by one, heavy stones dropped into a swimming hole. Six different teachers are calling out student names- the names of the absent are sung out repeatedly, “Lupita, Lupita Gonzalez, LUPITA GONZALEZ! Devan, Devan Patel, DEVAN PATEL!, Minh, Minh Nyguen, MINH NYGUEN!.” Several babies are crying as their parents focus their attention on getting their older children into the pool. And today the work of the cement trucks pouring a foundation for a new high school building adds to the cacophony.

    Each year it is pretty much the same- minus the cement truck. Parents are calling out instructions to their kids- obviously knowing better than the instructors. A father is frustrated and yelling into the wind that the kids in his child’s class should be let out of the over crowded shallow end and into the vacant deep water. The noise and confusion are all familiar discomforts of the first day of lessons.

    I bring my daughters to this pool, the pool I learned to swim in, on purpose. I drive us the opposite direction of most of my child’s friends. I bring them here to be part of something different than the shallow vanilla cream calm in which we live. The children here are beautiful and seem unburdened with the media’s definition of beauty. Here we all come to swim, and swim we do- no matter our shape, size, or color. The languages spoken amongst families are diverse- some, like Spanish, familiar to our ears and others play like exotic melodies. All these bodies beautiful and worthy to be unencumbered in the pool on a warm sunny day.

    The truck rumbles off and parents quiet as the teachers take over. The pen, yes, I hacked it to get it to work. I pulled out its skeletal remains and gave it a feeble transplant from another-less favored click pen. The gentle splashing of strokes and kicks take over and the sound of summer settles in.

    • Morgan
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      Love the alliteration of the that last line… it sizzles with summer. The other line that strikes me and brings me back to your piece again is the “familiar discomfort” of it all and the “exotic melodies” of those unfamiliar languages. This is such a nice contrast and echoes the contrast between your “vanilla cream calm” life and the “unburdened” experience you are giving your kids. What a nice way to explicitly and implicitly make your point.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      I love the way your focus shifts from the pen to the larger world of this swimming pool and its significance to your family, with all of its splashing details. And this line…

      “…my plastic fuschia pen with the skeleton skull with the inset rhinestone eyes”

      Details don’t get much more specific than that – love it!

  51. Patti ⛵️
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    It’s amazing what a difference a day can bring. My paradise…my panacea…my beach. My only company this morning is a young seal resting on the shore as he gathers his strength to rejoin his mom. Thankfully, the partiers are gone, taking with them their coolers and grills and bags of trash. Where I sit there only remains a circle of rocks and some charred remains of the campfire that 40 + people enjoyed after the Independence Day sun was swallowed by the pink sky. The wind is blowing across the beach kicking up sand that stings my legs. I can feel the heat but need to wear my hoodie to protect my eyes. It’s high tide now and there are some white caps on the waves crashing near my feet reminding me of Mother Nature’s moodiness. There are just a few seagulls floating somewhat effortlessly in between the crests which always amazes me given their size against the Cape Cod Bay. As is my routine, I sit on the edge and watch the waves. I get lost in my thoughts and stare as if with each roll, the tide will bring me my answers. I look down and see a tiny sliver of blue sea glass…my favorite! It’s going to be a fantastic day.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Patti, one thing I’ve so enjoyed today is reading the contrasts in all of these descriptive posts – some so quiet and lovely, some full of discord, and some, like yours, full of contrast all on their own. I love the lone seal left after the partiers have moved on. Thanks for sharing this!

      \”…my plastic fuschia pen with the skeleton skull with the inset rhinestone eyes\”

      Details don\’t get much more specific than that – love it!

      • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Apparently, that quote from one of the other paragraphs is happy to be included and is showing up in all my comments now. Sorry!

  52. Morgan
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Thought I would try this mini-lesson to see if it would unlock some of the \”world-building\” for my sci-fi piece. Sometimes the best description is the \”what it\’s not,\” so look into the second paragraph for my mid-morning inspiration:
    The most striking difference here is the silence. As if the surge of adrenalin that has kept me going these last two days, simultaneously drained the world of all its detail. Sure, they showed me how I can program the sound of birds, the wind, rain, even thunderstorms and babbling brooks. How I can program a window scene that brings me back to the mountains, drives me through the tree-lined suburbs, or simulates an urban lifestyle. But it\’s not the same. Not when–after two hours of chasing sleep that first night–I can predict when the thunder will crash, which bird will pipe up next, which light will flash and which car will pass. There is order to it all, but that\’s not real life. None of this is real.
    Real is the bird that competes with the little yipper down the road until an oversized bark tells them all to shut up. It\’s the neighbor\’s hammer intent on its latest project. The unmuffled semi hauling down the hill and the revving of the motorcycle down the street. Real is the way a beetle bounces off the porch railing and careens into the yard. The way the wind shakes the trees on the distant peaks before puppeteering the limbs nearby. It\’s the taste of the air, from crisp on a cool morning to an afternoon boiling with the exhaust of a supercharged motor or burnt rubber on a quarter-mile of fresh asphalt.
    The programmed sounds, the paletted color, they don’t touch my face with drops of rain, don\’t bring relief after I\’ve worked up a sweat, don\’t run on the random that I live for. Yep, it\’s as if my whole world has had the volume turned down. Colors, sounds, all my senses are muted here. I hate it.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Wow, Morgan – this snippet is so supercharged with details, and it sounds like maybe this prompt fit right into your work in progress. It sounds like a fascinating concept!

      \\\”…my plastic fuschia pen with the skeleton skull with the inset rhinestone eyes\\\”

      Details don\\\’t get much more specific than that – love it!

      • Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        I do not know why that quote from someone else’s paragraph ended up in my reply, but WordPress is stubbornly refusing to let me edit it, so now I’m staring it the extra line in dismay. Anyway, ignore that…and a pox on WordPress tonight!

  53. Kat
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Behind the hotel is a small rectangle of grass and a surprising Michigan jungle of trees and overgrown weeds. An oasis from the too-small room being shared. The smell of the oversized ashtray outside the door and the sounds of the unseen highway cannot diminish the appeal. The rustling leaves, the countless bird songs, and the breeze are quieter than the silence in the room.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      I love the surprising image of that “Michigan jungle of trees.” Thanks for being brave enough to share today, Kat!

  54. Kathleen Cousins
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    I strolled up the walkway of my home away from home and noticed a gray cat curled up in a chair on the tiny balcony that was soon to be my five-by-five foot porch. Not even my footsteps or rolling bag disturbed the napping feline. Birds chirped and swooped warnings, but neither human conversations nor traffic noises interrupted its dreamy slumber. I noticed a collar, so I hoped my new friend would be gone by the time my animals arrived. I made an immediate mental promise to myself that the new acquaintance and I would just be friends. I made my first mistake naming my friend, Mr. Gray Cat. I chose an emotionless generic name to keep our relationship purely platonic, but the bond developed in spite of my efforts. I now hear sinister laughing sequences in my head as I continue writing. First, I fed Mr. G.C. and offered him water. I kept feeding him and visiting with him as my animals watched from the window. Second, I bought a carrier for warmth and transport, if possible. Third, I took pictures with my phone and started the search for a forever home for Mr. G.C. even though I would have been delighted to keep him. From the feral sounds bellowing from my brother and sister act inside, I knew the duo would never become a peaceful trio! On the coldest night of the winter season, I worried about my friend and his ability to survive the sub zero temps and precipitation promised. Mr. G.C. appeared at about sundown and looked straight through me with his beautiful green eyes. He spoke to me in meows and glances. He rubbed against me begging for an intervention. Feed me please and take me where you must. The rest is history. Mr. G.C. got in the carrier and made the trip to the Animal Emergency Center for a one-night reservation – a warm place with overnight TLC. He visited my friendly vet the next day for his first physical, I’m sure. He had surgery, shots, etc. He let me take him to his forever home and made an effort to visit with every member of his new family. He is living the life now that were only dreams on the day we met.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

      What a beautifully painted memory, Kathleen – glad Mr. G.C. is living well now!

      • Kathleen Cousins
        Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        Hmmmm…I realize now that I went beyond a snippet and totally ignored today’s assignment. I’m not sure how my thoughts for today moved to the past. I promise to pay closer attention.

  55. Dana Kramaroff
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    summer library trip

    fluorescent lights

    padded feet down the ramp

    the squeak of the standard issue library step stool

    small fingers pushing the keys of the keyboard, one-finger-at-a-time

    faded Berber carpet playing summer’s anthem of flip flops smacking against the soles of bare feet

    ticking clock, harried mothers, hands on hips…Mom? Mom! Mom.

    summer reading tickets clenched in fists, eager children gazing that wall of “junk drawer” prizes

    VHS boxes mixed amongst DVDs and books on CD, old and new coming together like the grandmom tenderly sharing a book with her grandbaby

    plastic bucket seats and worn out cushions

    make shift book bags hung over shoulders, ready to be filled until they are too heavy to carry

    musty and stale, the air smells of books and my childhood

    My 8 year old girl sits, face in a book, alongside the play table of Thomas trains and tracks as pudgy hands dig for the perfect one to zoom around, she pushes all the clanking of wheels, the squeals, the grandmom reading to her grandbaby, the clock ticking and she reads and she reads and she reads

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Such terrific, vivid details, Dana! And I so love the rhythm of that last line… “She reads and she reads and she reads…” 🙂

  56. Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    I retreat to the front porch for a little bit of time that is all my own. I breathe deeply, the kind of fresh air that has been cleansed by a summer rain, cool and earthy, refreshing after a warm and humid day. It is eerily quiet on Thomas Court tonight. I live on the lucky side of the street. Most of my neighbours have been without power for more than sixty hours. Next to me hums the electric cooler that hold the contents of my neighbour’s refrigerator. Besides the cooler’s fan, the only noise I hear is the sound of the occasional car that passes by. Wet tires on the pavement sound like pulling sticky taffy off a hard surface. Although I cannot see them, I can hear the whir of the cars that are passing by my court, not needing to turn this way. It seems that even the birds are quiet tonight and the air is still, in stark contrast to what was experienced during Saturday’s hurricane. Just the very tip tops of the trees are quivering, almost imperceptibly. The glow of dusk makes the colours more vibrant and everything has about it that calm after the storm feeling and I have to remind myself to breathe. Finally, a lone bird sings a small and cheerful song, reminding me that even in this stillness there is other life besides my own. Then I realize that I’ve been rubbing my feet over my calves, protecting myself from both real and imaginary mosquitos. I want to prolong my stay outside but must protect myself from being bitten and reluctantly retreat back inside.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      I’d forgotten when I wrote this post that some of you would be stepping into the aftermath of a hurricane to looks and listen and smell…and write. You’ve captured the day, right down to the feel of the air here – so, so lovely!

  57. Dan
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Never having done anything like this before I’m quite nervous about dipping my toes in the pool. I look forward to learning how I can improve as I really want to be able to then understand how to help my students become good writers. Hope I adequately addressed the prompt.

    It’s the lunch hour and as I sit on a bench in the park near the center of town I can’t help but reflect upon how different things are now from when I was a child. Years ago we looked forward to the advent of summer just to get a break from monotony of school and homework. On those sun-splashed, summer afternoons, when the breeze, if there was one, always seemed to be stifling, my brother and I would walk, or ride our bikes to the community swimming pool to luxuriate in the cooling waters, yearning for relief from the oppressive heat and humidity which was so thick you’d swear you could cut it with a knife. As we made the short trek from our house, it was common to see and hear life passing by at a leisurely pace with shoppers frequenting the many locally owned, small businesses which lined the main thoroughfare. So much has changed since then. Now, many of those businesses have disappeared, replaced by branches of major banking corporations and professional services. These changes have brought about a change in the general feeling of the entire downtown area as well. Today fewer pedestrians line the sidewalks. The traffic is much heavier now with many vehicles racing to and fro in an attempt to get to their destination as quickly as possible. The hubbub of pleasant conversation has been replaced by the thrum of a motorcycle engine, the honk of a horn and screech of brakes as an accident is narrowly averted, or the backup signal of a delivery truck. I miss those days of so many years ago. I’m not sure if I’m just being nostalgic or if life actually was simpler back then. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      I love the way you set up the dichotomy of then and now, Dan. Your contrasting details are so vivid & great – I’m glad you decided to share your bench with us today. 🙂

  58. Jen C.
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Caught between the electronic world and the natural world, I sit facing the dripping leaves and repetitive bird calls in the fading evening light after a storm. Beyond the green edge, somewhere a train passes in a slow and steady shushing of white noise, a calming predictable hum. Behind me the music swells dramatically, television suspense building, pixels brightening and dimming in a spasmodic dance, and I wait for the long-gone lightning bolt to strike, the wild wind to tear the potted plants and furniture from the balcony. (Don’t they say a tornado sounds like an approaching train?) I recall the meteorologist’s constant prattle in the excitement of a tornado warning earlier, pointing, explaining, repeating again and again. But it doesn’t happen. The storm died hours ago, disaster averted. There is stillness in the air now and a lack of temperature- the same indoors and out. And so, as if scripted upon my realization, the music slows and stops, until the moment passes and a bright, louder, cheerful commercial declares itself. The outside world immediately appears brighter, though I know that’s impossible in the passage of time.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      What a moment to capture, Jen – you’ve brought us right there with your details. I loved this line:
      “he wild wind to tear the potted plants and furniture from the balcony.” And as the wife of a tv meteorologist, I had a good laugh over the line about the way yours prattled on about the storm – they do get excited about such things!

    • Ruth
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

      Jen, I loved the idea of being caught between the electronic world and the natural world that you play with here. The contrast between the sounds and visuals of the television and the calm, storm less day highlighted the media’s hyper-dramatic warnings about the tornado.

  59. Patricia
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    I open the back door, my dog Lea by my side, to go outside and begin my first writing snippet of this session. I watch Lea charge out, chasing after a squirrel, throwing her whole body into the moment of an exercise that has never once ended in victory. The squirrel escapes; scratch, scratch, scratch up the pin oak tree. The yard cleared of squirrel trespassers we relax to the pin oak leaves and beech tree leaves rustle in the wind welcoming us to the beautiful summer morning. Lea demonstrates to me that it is the effort, not the outcome that makes life grand. My happy, squirrel-chasing dog flaunts to me time and time again the joy.

    Thank you Kate for this wonderful opportunity.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      I could hear that squirrel climbing up the tree to safety, Patricia – great post, and thanks for being brave enough to share on the first day!

  60. Amy
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    The waves gently rustle over the rocks as the big Ferry pushes forward to haul its cargo to the island. The rumble of the engine increases in its roar, the boat finally moving. Excitement fills her as she starts her journey on the island, as an adult. Of course she remembers visiting her grandparents as a child, but things are different now. It was time to tuck away those memories and those ties to start on her own devices. Still, she felt like she was coming home.

    The water smelled clean and fresh from a late spring thaw. Seaweed permeated the air. Lotion of sun was rubbed all over sweet little faces to keep their youth in pristine form. The gulls cackled as they dived for their prey in this freshwater paradise of pike and walleye, leaving only remnants for their fellow aviary. As the wind blew, water splashed on the boat, only a sprinkling making it to the top deck where the sun faded the fresh paint already. One could feel the summer sun trying to peak out in full force, singing the old skin of winter. Her mouth watered as she thought of Ryba\’s maple pecan fudge melting in her mouth. She hadn\’t tasted such sweetness for more than 10 years.

    The waves gently rustle over the rocks as the gulls dived for their prey of walleye and pike in this fresh water paradise. The water smelled so clean and fresh, not yet riddled with dead fish smell due mostly to the long arduous winter and the late thaw. The ferry\’s engine rumbled as it began the journey of taking such precious cargo to the island. Her journey started here too. Her hair tossed in the wind of the upper deck, where newly painted benches were already fading from the sun pounding down on it and there no protection. Not much different from the benches were the families coming to visit the island, lathered up in sunscreen to ward off the evils of the rays. If only it were that easy. To create an armour to protect ones being with the quick spray of a can, who could resist that? She sat and thought of her time on the island with her grandparents and how she smelled the sweet maple syrup in Miss Ryba\’s fudge. She was there in the shop as most days on the island began. Would the taste be the same? Would the smell of chocolate and peanut butter melting together bring back all the good in those days? As sweet as the memory was, she couldn\’t help but feel the brick in the pit of her stomach. Nothing could be the same. It never is. Or was.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      This totally made me smell the ocean, Amy! (and taste that fudge, too!) So many delicious details here!

  61. gae polisner
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    enjoyed scrolling through all your posts today! TW is off to a rousing start! xox

  62. Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    A bird twitters high in a tree across the yard, as a barely-there breeze stirs the cool green leaves of a nearby fern, then gently lifts a page of the open book in my lap. Criiick…criiick…criiick…the rungs beneath me quietly sing as I rock to and fro, cooled in the shade of the porch. It’s a southern, summer afternoon, heavy with the scent of geraniums drifting up from the porch steps. The rumble of a truck out on the main road causes the dog at my feet to lift her head. She looks around, lets out a heavy sigh and lays down again, content. I turn back to my book, ready to sink into it’s story.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      So lovely, Kris – your words captured the gentleness of that breeze so perfectly. Loved the onomatopoeia of the porch rocker, too.

  63. Michele Drivas
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Cars were crammed along East Market street and the parking lot was overflowing as well. A kind, middle-aged gentleman guided us to what seemed to be the last parking spot in the lot. We got out of our car, both silent, my mother and I. It was an awkward silence as if we both wanted to say something, however, the words were buried deep within us, so neither of us spoke. We simply walked in silence up the stairs of the restored mansion. People were coming out and seemed as awkward as we felt. Some nodded to us, some smiled, some came out with tears pouring down their cheeks, others simply walked in silence with their heads down. I wasn’t sure what I looked like at that moment, and quite honestly, I didn’t care! The line to get into the mansion was at least a mile long, or so it seemed. It was a sweltering 93 degrees and the humidity was so sticky and thick it felt like it could be cut with a knife. Sweat began to trickle down my brow and my hair was soaked underneath. Even my palms were sweaty. As we were finally escorted into the grand mansion, I gazed around at the scenery, trying to take my mind off of the inevitable. The dated wallpaper was peeling at the corners in what once looked to be the parlor or drawing room. Each room was painted a different pastel color and I was curious if they were named for their colors at one time. The furnishings were something out of a 1970’s flea market, yet, in some odd way it felt appropriate here. The smell of moth balls and old-ladies perfume lingered heavy in the air. In the background were mixed sounds of laughter, chatter, sniffling, and mumbling. For the amount of people that had shown up, it was still rather quiet and melancholy. There was soft elevator music playing in the background. A video caught my eye as I made it further through the line, awakening me from the fog I had been in. I wasn’t dreaming after all, this was real… very, very real. Brie’s dad was dead and I was here to do what exacly? To give my condolences, whatever that was. I had known Brie’s dad since I was in kindergarten, I was only five year old at the time we met. Now Brie and I were beginning our senior year of high school, the greatest and one of the most important years of our lives, and we had plans… grand plans, but the sudden death of her father hadn’t been one of them.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      Michele, this piece took me by surprise, I have to admit. I was reading along, appreciating the details – the sweaty waiting in line, the wallpaper – and was hit hard when I learned near the end that your words had invited us to attend a wake with you. It was such an interesting choice to withhold that detail – and a powerful one, I think.

  64. Michele Drivas
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, this is my first unedited draft from my writer’s notebook. It wasn’t what I had originally planned on writing, but rather, where my pen lead me after coming home from a viewing of the father of one of my daughter’s good friends. Next, to revise.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      Drafts like this are more than okay in Teachers Write – mine was just the same. We’re sharing free writes with friends here, not publishing final drafts.

  65. Laura Matheny
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    The day grew hotter and more humid until now the air feels like a cushion around us, like the soft batting of a quilt. It dampens the sounds and makes everything feel still. I hear the leaves rustling in a light breeze, but I can’t feel the breeze. Our house and nearby houses are dotted with the muffled whoosh of window units, blowing cold air into bedrooms, readying for sleep. A catbird sits on the garage roof, chattering and squawking. A cardinal makes a chirping noise on the deck. There’s the faint smell of charcoal from someone’s grill. Down the street, I hear children yelling. Next door there is the squeak of a screen door opening, then the slam as it shuts. A faraway dog barks. The first firefly of the evening emerges, signaling night.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      Your words have captured such a wonderful summer snapshot. I especially love the transition of the air from cushion to quilt – such a great metaphor.

  66. Craig Yen
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Summer camp? For teachers online, sure why not! Here I sit typing away with the computer in my lap waiting for the grill to warm up. While the suns warmth would beel welcome on my body, the screen isn’t visible when placed into the sun. The smell of sausages makes its way out of the bag that is sitting on the table propped up by a container filled with sauerkraut and onions. The wind whistles through the palm fronds as a sea of smoke spirals from the bbq into the air.
    Glancing over at the temperature gauge on the grill, I spot that it’s almost ready for the sausages to be placed on. Looking out upon the yard, I spy a fallen palm frond which sits propped alongside the fence that’s soon to be replaced. Beyond the fence, I hear a gardener with a rake perhaps clearing growth that sits along their side of the fence, but my view is obscured. Along my side, “Spider plants” still sit by the fence with a pick nearby, evidence of the work that I started this morning in clearing overgrown plants. Bees flitter on by perhaps searching for the wild berry plants and their flower that were previously there. Cars can be heard from the street along with a wailing siren. Ahh. silence again as I peer longingly at the grill and await my lunch.
    My mouth waters as I peer longingly towards the closed grill where the smell of my hotlink and bratwurst. The wind teases me as it pushes the tantalizing aromas away from me evidenced by the smoke yet my mouth still waters. I squeeze the tongs again carefully turning the sausages over one last time, and rush into the house to get a plate to enjoy my belated lunch. Noises from my stomach thank me.
    Careful not to burn myself on the hot grill, I toast the bun while twisting the knob of the propane tank to turn off the grill. Which to eat first. Hmm.. Closing the door, it’s much quieter within the house my lunch no long disturbed by the scraping sound of a rake or sirens. The container opens with a slight groan. I place it onto the bun and then realize it was old container my taste buds witness to the error. “Finally, I think,” as I take one picture to add to my summer writing piece. Ahh… finally! At least it’s the summer where I have more than forty minutes for lunch. I can leisurely enjoy my lunch.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      I should not have read this comment hungry. 🙂 But really…your details are wonderful here, and I’m glad you were brave enough to share.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Glad you’re writing with us this summer, Craig! Great piece with lots of imagery. My favorite line, “Noises from my stomach thank me.” Looking forward to reading more as the summer goes on!

  67. Jenny
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m a substitute teacher and I think writing is one of my weaker areas. I’m eager to learn from so many of you during this camp! Thank you.
    As I walk towards my front door, I’m drawn outside by the sun’s rays pouring in. I walk through the screen door that tends to stick frequently. The warmth of the sun envelopes me in its embrace. Working in the chilly basement caused me to soak up the heat. I lazily sit in a rocking chair. Closing my eyes, I allow the sun to melt away the tension. Different birds are vying to be heard. Without realizing it, I had drifted off into a sun drenched slumber. I was rudely awakened by my lower extremities tumbling off the chair. A short lived sun saturated nap.

    • Ruth
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      Jenny, I loved the sounds in your last line. The repetition of “s” and the assonance of s*u*n sat*u*rated evoke a lazy, warm feeling to me.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      You have wonderful details here, Jenny – I love the way your words capture the sun’s heat throughout this piece. And on a teaching note, I love that you’re writing to be better at teaching writing for your kids. I think you’ll find that it helps so much & really lets you empathize with their challenges, too.

  68. Kate Weber
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    For a city girl (or, more accurately, a suburban girl turned city girl), I’m not rarely surrounded by total, all-encompassing nature. Maybe one day, I hope, but for now an open window facing the damp night sky on my neighborhood street is good enough for me. I’m kept company by my two cats crowded around the open window on this second floor, but also by the sound of passing cars on the highway not far from my house, Route 28. I’m imagining people in their cars, illuminated by the green glow on their dashboards. They’re traveling towards the city lights downtown, or, oppositely, north towards the darkness and the empty fields and barns. I don’t know not exactly where they are going, but it’s enough to know they are headed somewhere. Maybe they are headed home to a family hunkered down for the evening, maybe they are headed home to an empty apartment, and for me, both situations have equal amounts of appeal and loneliness. I like the sound of passing cars, because it reminds me that I’m not alone. I’ve grown up with this sound, lived by myself with this sound, lived with other people while hearing this sound. The sound of the cars breaks through this night just recently made cooler with rain, with the orange glow of streetlights reflecting off of puddles and car roofs. The summer coolness, the engine noise, the night; this is summer.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

      I love the way this piece transitions from the very concrete to the abstract, Kate – how you start with those physical details and then stretch into the imaginings of where people are going at night. Just lovely!

  69. Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Arriving home, I open the door slowly, knowing what I’ll find on the other side; my usual greeting from my puppy Lola scratching my legs to say hello in her crazy Jack Russell kind of way. The clawing is short-lived and she runs to the old green chaise lounge that she thinks she owns and perches high up on the back. I walk to the kitchen to unload the groceries and she follows me, her tiny claws click-clicking on the floor. After a second, she decides I’m uninteresting and she joins my husband at the table. He hugs her and gives her little smooches which always surprises me. He’s not a smooching kind of a guy. But the kisses continue. Anything for Lola. She looks out the window at the hot grey skies and whines a tiny whine, which gets her more smooches from my celery-crunching husband. I think I have a lot to learn from Lola.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      “I think I have a lot to learn from Lola.” Such a simple, yet powerful way to wrap up your piece. Thanks for sharing!

    • Posted July 10, 2014 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      I love the joy in this piece – from Lola, your celery-crunching husband, and you, as you offer the idea of perhaps learning new tricks from an old dog.

  70. Ruth
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    This turned into something \”other\” than the prompt and other than what I expected it to when I began writing. It\’s long, but I\’m sharing anyhow. Because, courage.

    His posture was militarily erect, except for his head, which tilted sharply down. Focused downward and inward, he didn’t notice her sitting there and so passed by on the opposite sidewalk, obviously absorbed in his thoughts. He walked without moving any part of his body except his hip joints, giving him a glide that was almost elegant, yet somehow still teenage-boy awkward.
    Her view of him was obscured by a lurching and belching motorcycle and a series of cars. By the time the short procession had passed, the young man had moved out of sight beyond the corner of her garage.
    She resisted the urge to step forward to watch him, choosing instead to settle back onto the small wooden porch that was tucked between the house and the garage. Although mosquitos landed occasionally, she simply brushed them away, as the irritation of their tickles and prickings was a minor aggravation compared to the evening heat that permeated the summer house. As the sky got darker, they hummed and buzzed more insistently, but still she sat. Even when spits of rain hit her bare arms she remained sitting on the wood of the porch, her back against the privacy fence, unwilling to sacrifice the feeling that she was enclosed in a liminal bubble floating between reality and an imaginary future.
    The automatic lights switched on in the living room across the street, a yellow square of incandescent light lunging through the window to land on the neighbour’s lawn. In comparison, she was surrounded by silhouettes of spiky hosta, black wavering tree branches, and vague lumps of yew and cedar shrubbery. Even the yellow bobbing primroses were cast into stark charcoal.
    A passing man and his dog simultaneously glanced sideways as she sighed. The man’s dark t-shirt and jeans blended into the twilight, but the moon of his face peered curiously at her. She leaned further into the shadows, away from both his questioning look and the raindrops.
    A streetlight shuddered on, its sharp blue light making the rain visible. The occasional passing cars now had windshield wipers squeaking across barely damp glass. The evening’s murmurs were submerged under the doppler of each car’s approach and withdrawal. As each passed into the distance, she could once again hear the ripping yap of a distant terrier, which had been a constant soundtrack to her summer.
    Later she would make a concession to the rain by sliding under the protection of the overhanging eaves. For now, though, she reveled in the tiny cool pinpricks of water against her hot skin. The air smelled fresh at last, the dust of the day dampening down. Breezes shook the leaves of the maple trees so that they rubbed together, making a sound that seemed oddly dry and rasping. Like a death rattle, she thought, and then recoiled from the idea.
    She sighed again, wondering what he had been thinking about with such intensity, and knowing that now she would never find out.

  71. Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    The View
    The view from my spot on the porch may seem unremarkable at first. The world is still a bit hazy from the humid day in the 80s. The breeze picks up. The slightly cooler air focuses my attention. Across the mostly cement yard, my mom’s building seems rundown. Slight eastward tilt of the window sill, peeling paint, and rusty nails on the uneven floorboards of the porch don’t show the facelift the front-side of brick building just received, though the tell-tale red brick dust stains the path to my staircase. From this angle, you can’t see the roof work just completed, though the clean, green gutters silver-line this cloud of a building. Each renovation paid by thousands, scraped together quarters and dimes, by my two-job working mom. She can’t help but love the building, despite its flaws, betrayals, and seeming indifference. She’ll keep putting money and care into it, though it will never repay her love. This twenty-seven year old family member has been in our world as long as my brother. Unremarkable view, except if you know where to look: the blinds on the kitchen window shift ever so slightly as my mom peeks out to make sure we’re all ok.

  72. Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Finished Day 1 writing would love feedback http://bit.ly/1n9nUpg

  73. Amy Weisberg
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Sitting high above the dying grass strewn with winter’s gopher holes, I gaze down at faded lawn chairs and pots waiting for flowers. At eye level, are pine trees and other leafy greens, and the wires crossing our yard, providing a perch for small birds. The distant cars are a white-noise background for the singing birds. The cool, trickle of a breeze is a welcome, returning night visitor, signaling the end of the hot day. Air conditioners hum and somewhere below, children squeal in play. The day lingers, light and warm, but shadows edge closer, shifting the colors, easing the glare and I breathe slowly, enjoying the cooler air.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      Love your details here, Amy – I feel like I’ve lived about a hundred summer days today with all of these wonderfully vivid posts from your yards!

      • Amy Weisberg
        Posted July 8, 2014 at 12:25 am | Permalink

        I was thinking that too. There are so many mentions of birds, which makes me realize how important they are to all of us. Listening to the birds is one of the first signs that we are observing nature.

  74. Wendy Edwards
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Time rushes by so fast. We often forget to stop and think about what it means to truly own our moments. I walked out into my backyard expecting to see the same old things, but open to the possibility of experiencing something new by being patient. As leaves rustle in the wind, I’m greeted by a distant meow from someplace inside the faded barn. Why does my dog only drink water in series of threes? Lap, lap, lap….lap, lap, lap… Chickens dart through the grass looking at me sideways. Their feet are their hands scratching and searching the earth. Always on alert, asking questions Brrrrock? Brrrrock? The sun warms my face, yet a cool pine breeze comforts me. I’m longing to see the lonely doe come out to graze in the freshly cut fields. She lets me get close to her at times, as long as I don’t make any sudden movements. If I stand very still, time seems to slow down.

  75. Andy Starowicz
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    The girls have taken over the fields at Santaro Park on a July night made for playing outside. Interestingly enough, they play a sport that originated on the Reservation just a short ten minutes away from this field. During its origins, it was a game played with wooden sticks, very few boundaries, and only for the men or boys. Not anymore. These girls may not know the origins, but they respect the game. They are proud to play lacrosse.

    They move like gazelles up and down the field orchestrating plays like young maestros. The ball rarely touches the green grass and moves from stick to stick with accuracy and precision. They know the boundaries, but they move within them with speed and quickness. The girls dodge, spin, roll, and pick while keeping the yellow rubber ball moving at a blurring speed. The movement never slows and the constant chatter never softens. “I’m open.” “Cut to the goal.” “Great pass.” “Pick her up.” And the intensity never diminishes.

    The t-shirts say it all – You wish that you could throw like a girl, girl lacrosse power, lacrosse chick, and this girl is on fire. Their play is the exclamation point. Don’t give these girls helmets, gloves, and pads or they may challenge the boys. Thousands of years have past since the first Native Americans ran these fields with the wooden sticks, and now thanks to two decades of women bringing the sport to these girls, the passion and flow is back.

    “Hey Coach. Coach, you okay? We just ran the play. How did it look?” says Beth.

    She brings me back. I was lost in a scene that keeps me coming back to this field every Sunday. All I can say is, “It looked great.”

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing this, Andy -it’s such a unique invitation to the lacrosse field, a sport many of us haven’t played until we did with you today. 🙂 I think what I like best about your piece today is the real physicality of the language you chose. So much action!

    • Ruth
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      Your words “A July night made for playing outside” felt so familiar to me, and evoked memories of just such evenings. The details in this piece made it come alive – the spirit of lacrosse’s energy came through. One part that highlighted the girls’ energy was the list of comments they made. I have a very clear image sensation of this scene. Lovely.

  76. Cara Cahill
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    It’s 8:14 pm. I am sitting in my living room enjoying those first few minutes of solitude. The sun is slowly giving the stage to the moon and stars. The crickets are chirping in a pattern that is both therapeutic and annoying. I can hear my chubby -cheeked girl’s sweet voice, quietly singing, while she is waiting for sleep to take over. I have finally reached the sanctuary of my day. For a few brief moments, I get to sit down, sink into the couch and do absolutely nothing. I have spent all day dashing from errand to errand, and in a few short minutes my evening to do list will start to loom in my head. But for a few fleeting moments, which will pass like the blink of an eye, I can finally curl my feet next to me on the couch and reflect on my day. I find myself tasting the salt on my lips feeling grateful for swimming lessons with my girl. I look over and see my husband silently reading his Kindle. I feel my heart beat a little faster for him, as he has finally decided to read the Harry Potter series. It’s only taken seven years of my convincing. I also know that in a few short minutes he will look up and give me the smile that says you and I have a secret no one else is privy to and my heart will beat a little faster. I can hear the baseball game in the background while my soda is slowly hissing away. For now, I have time to think about how these small moments are what make up my life. These small moments are what give me purpose. But as we all know, good things come to and end and my peaceful time has run out for today. I find my mind slowly slipping back into the needs of my day. I quietly whisper to myself- -I can’t wait to meet you again tomorrow- same time, same place.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      This is lovely, Cara – and full of such delicious details. I’m a fan of those small moments, too, in both writing and life.

  77. Wendy Chaulk
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Sitting on a hard scratchy chair in my hotel room staring out the window as the wind blows over the Wyoming prairie. Grass and trees bending half over as the wind builds and howls. It seems to echo in my room. Leaves rustling as if trying to escape the confines of the branches on which they are clinging. A glorious sight of summer. Another blast of cool wind mixes with a faint smell of lingering crisp, clean rain mixed with the scent of fresh cut grass so strong it lingers in my mouth. A glorious taste of summer. Sunshine pours in, attempting to warm my face even while the nonstop howling wind keeps cooling me off. A glorious feeling of summer. A lone blackbird sits on a swaying lamp post, calling out its lonely chant as if only to me before soaring away into the setting sun. A glorious sound of summer.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      Your details here are glorious, too, Wendy! I especially loved the way you let us breathe in the smells of this place – the rain and the grass so vivid I could not only smell but taste them.

  78. sheryl
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    OK- last year I lurked. This year I dive in.

    * One tree sits at the corner of the lot reaching across the yard with its shadow. The sun behind the tree sneaks through while the branches and leaves dance with the movement of the wind. I sit in the yard managing to find a cool location in its shade. The smell of grass and flowers withering in the heat waif up into the air. Wind chimes echo, to the right in a high pitch while the left harmonizes in a deep baritone. A stray leaf runs down the street while flip flop covered feet tapping out of a house, slam the gate, and rush into the fenced yard. Dust rushes through the air tossed into a traffic patterned dictated by a gush of wind while in the distance a car roars down industrial way. I hear the sound of a fan buried deep inside a house. I imagine others sitting in air conditioning trying to cool down. Muffled laughter and a cry from a child inside. The best way I know how to cool down is to remain immobile. Sitting as still as possible. But we are such wimps here in the northwest. A little sun, a temperature climb into the 90s and we melt into our houses like its siesta time for the entire day.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      I’m so glad you shared this, Sheryl – I especially love your line “we melt into our houses” because it captures the exhausted feeling of the heat so perfectly.

  79. Kelly Billington
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Out back, behind the house that blocks the early evening sun, the pond peacefully records the day. Koi, orange and white, orange and black, black and white, patrol the waters swimming in a small pod, under the hardy lilies, around the marsh marigold, under the flat rock bridge. Often congregating by the feeding rock in hope of a hand out. Their tails, moving sideways, but forward atop well-placed rocks, create concentric circles. Geometry at its finest. Goldfinches flit branch to branch in an unidentified tree, even the arborist is puzzled, before their final assent onto the yellow landing strip of the feeder. It sways gently. You have to look twice to see it move now with the bird dining. His friend has come too. Two lemon yellow friends with black wings out for an aperitif. On their rests they pull out a black seed slimmer than wild rice one by one, their heads bobbing. Once done, it’s time to freshen up. Off to a rock, heads bend low to rinse a beak. Perched just so, wings spread, not enough for flight, but to dip into the flowing stream tossing up drops, to wash away the dust of today. The constant rush and roar of the waterfalls provide the melody allowing for the harmony to be sung by the passing green darner dragonfly or the robins calling it a night.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      I love this, Kelly – one of the things I always talk about when I teach writing workshops is the idea of a “zoom lens,” using words to bring readers in closer to see the details, and you’ve done this so beautifully with the goldfinches here.

      • Kelly Billington
        Posted July 9, 2014 at 1:49 am | Permalink

        Thanks Kate. I’ve fallen in love with these little yellow treats that visit every day.

  80. Trish Bonner
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    A gaggle of kids roam the yard in the late afternoon sun. Shrieks and giggles alternating drift through the opened door. We wait; they dart and streak among the shady trees chasing the light peeking through the long drapes of moss.
    “When can we shoot fireworks?” calls one.
    “I’m thirsty,” another chimes in.
    They tire as late afternoon shadows dissolve into dusk. Too late for more swimming, but too early for fireworks.
    My sister calls to the kids, “Are you ready for watermelon?”
    Kids pour up the steps to the porch, feet clomping on the wooden floor. Generations of children have clomped across its worn, gray surface. We line them up, imposing order among the childhood chaos. With drooping eyes that hint at their tiredness, the smalls wait. The promise of sweet, cool watermelon revives their chatter.
    The screen door squeaks in protest, and my sister appears with the promised melon. Stumpy fingers reach for the cool melon. Chatter fades as the watermelon is consumed, cooling the insides as the gentle breeze rustling through the moss, draped oak and pecan trees cools the sweat-soaked skin. Quiet moos and raucous brays drift though the air.
    The light fades; dusk settles over the shady yard.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

      Trish,
      You brought me straight to your backyard! I, too, want some watermelon.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      This is so perfectly, wonderfully summer, Trish – such great details that I can feel the watermelon juice dripping down my chin. Thanks for sharing today!

  81. Sara
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    The ocean is a beautiful place and full of wonder. This vast and emotional life-form lives and breathes with each hard thunderous crash of its waves from the the start of the fiery and piercing sun that crawls up and over the perfectly formed horizon to the setting of the star burst which brings twinkling and magically dancing stars lighting up the deep dark sky. Each day repeating this slow dance with the Earth creating night and day, life and death, magic and beauty is what our ocean holds before us. The water has many shades of color and the sky is an amazing backdrop. What lies beyond the horizon is left to my imagination and wondering, in which I hope to one day actually have time to explore without a time limit or agenda. Allowing oneself to become lost and part of the perfection in which you can close your eyes and feel a calmness should be a goal for everyone to achieve at some point in their lives. A time where I can fully and completely empty my lungs to take in the sounds, smells, tastes, sights, and feelings when closing my eyes sitting where no others can distract me and take the deepest, longest, and most passionate cleansing breath inward where my head, heart, and soul have created its own understanding of the world around me. What lies under the ocean is another journey for another day but again a day that I hope to get to experience during my youthful age where I can truly enjoy and actively participate. This day will come but wrapping my body in a mind blanket of rejuvenating and essential needs to being connected and grounded, I can easily and frequently do so by taking a deep cleansing breath in and smelling the sweet yet salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico where there creates it’s own orchestra; trees play their own music with their leaves accompanied by the ocean breeze, waves crashing gently crescendoing steadily against the rocks and then again returning to a decrescendo. In the distant the sound of a soft voice fills the air from a local restaurant allowing you to smell the tart key lime pie being carefully made, ready for a tourist to take an eager bite from the smooth and silky pie as they sit in a tight but quaint establishment that allows them to escape from the summer time heat. Now to find time to experience the ocean and add another quilting square to my mind blanket…

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      So lovely, Sara! You brought us right in to hear the music of the waves with you (and my mouth is watering over that key lime pie, too!

  82. Aimee
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I watched last year, but I had to try it this year. Strayed a bit from the prompt, but for a first attempt, it’s okay I guess.
    Divided. Split completely between my awestruck reaction to the beauty of nature surrounding me and the mother-hen instinct requiring me to restrict and restrain at every turn.
    “Don’t walk there—there’s no railing. “
    “Walk to the left, away from the waterfall.”
    “Hold your brother’s hand, the steps are uneven.”
    The resounding, “STOP!” yelled seconds before he sprints directly into the mud pit masquerading as a grassy picnic locale.
    My fear becomes their fear. The roar of the falls is muffled only by the tug-of-war occurring within me. All it takes is one step, one shaky step on an uneven path, and the descent I’ve seen only in my nightmares will begin. I’m sure of it.
    Only on flat ground, sharing our lunches while preparing for the next trail…or at an overlook with railings and walls I deem suitable for protecting my most precious gifts…only then, can I take deep breaths and relax.

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

      Aimee, I enjoyed the perspective of a parent cautiously watching over her beloved treasures, envisioning my own children through your rich descriptions. Thanks for sharing!

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Straying from the path is just fine, Aimee – it’s great, in fact, because that produces some of the most unexpected surprises in writing, I think. I was hit hard by the emotions of your post – maybe different ones than other readers will feel, since my son’s high school lost two kids in a waterfall/cliff jumping accident two weeks ago. Reading this has reminded me how different readers will have such varied emotional reactions to the very same text, depending on what they bring to it.

  83. Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    I was working on capturing a slice of late winter/ early spring (which was over only a month ago here in Edmonton…) in a poem I jotted down roughly in March. I revised and rewrote and revised it this evening and came up with this –

    A Moment of Bravery

    an empty park bench
    frozen tree-framed view of the river
    my first day outside in months

    iron fence posts offer stark black contrast to the bleached grasses
    a plastic bag shivers and snaps against the fence
    green paint peels thin off the cold wood seat

    I wiggle my toes – tentative – sockless in my winter boots
    below the song of traffic hum and dripping snowmelt
    my heart beats legato

    the sun like a gleaming penny reflects off snowbanks
    filling my mouth with the taste of copper
    and blinding me

    so I sit eyes closed
    my lungs stretching open like butterfly wings
    the cocoon of my ribs straining

    I lean into Spring with my whole being
    choosing in this moment
    to live

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      I love this poem, Haley – and even more, I love that you took the prompt and used it to shape & revise something that you wanted to work on. This is such a great example of how I hope people will use the prompts to lead them wherever they want to be next in their writing, even if that’s a totally different path than others are taking. So thanks for sharing this!

  84. Amber Faske
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Nervous, sweaty giggles echo across the fresh green field as the boys try to avoid the ball. Summertime insects tickle my feet as though trying to distract me from watching my husband and 3 sons play. It’s Balltag- a little dodgeball, a little Sharks and Minnows, and pure delight to sweaty, ageless boys wreaking of nature and mischief. A gentle breeze whispers through the air as the sun slips away, and west Texas fowl loudly cheer the boys on, singing their not-so-twangy songs amidst the giggles. Suddenly a victorious cheer roars above the rest of the chatter as my five-year-old tags his almost-ten-year-old brother with a mute thud. This new ball has leveled the playing field, and now anyone can be tagged at any given moment. Even an almost-ten-year old.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Such great details here, Amber – thanks for sharing! I think my favorite thing about this snippet is the thought of “sweaty giggles.” I’d never think of putting those words together (can a sound be sweaty? It can! And who knew?!) but it’s such a perfect description because it’s unexpected.

  85. Carol Owen
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    When I was about eight years old, my family got our first colored tv. It got about three stations, but that’s all we needed to be mesmerized. Besides the on-off switch, which also acted as the volume, and two big toggle buttons to change the stations, there was a little door that if you opened showed two smaller controls – one for hue and one for sharpness. We were expressly forbidden to touch those switches, but my older brothers were like the contestants on “Let’s Make a Deal,” always wanting to know what was behind door number two. So, when Mom and Dad weren’t looking they’d raise a threatening fist to me to keep my mouth shut, and open the door to see what those controls would do. It was the ‘hue’ that held the greatest interest, because by turning that to the left the castaways on Gilligan’s Island would take on the pallor of Barnabas from Dark Shadows, but a quick turn to the right and they were as crisply fried as all of us red-haired siblings were after a day in the sun (this was long before sun block was invented).

    Looking out on my yard as the sun slowly drops from the sky like a balloon losing its helium, its rays casts such a change in hue to the yard, reminding me of that switch. The areas where the dirt has been exposed from my husband’s digging look as though the earth is rich with clay, even though I know it’s actually sandy and dusty. The green of the grass is tinted, too, a color not contained in a box of Crayolas. The sky itself changes by the minute from the pale blue of worn jeans to golden yellows, then the pink blush of a first kiss and pastel of a baby girl’s knitted afghan. Then, finally, the fiery vibrant layers appear- mixed berry delight – raspberry, strawberry, cherry mixed with salmon, rose, and candy apple. A few fat, puffy clouds try to contain the colors like security at a rock concert, one cloud even gets bigger and bigger, but it’s not long before the colors burst through their boundaries.

    It’s been a mildly windy day so all around is the shush-shush of the leaves rustling. It’s been constant through the day, so the sound has become like white noise, hardly noticeable until someone turns the volume up or down and sometimes off.

    In the trees around our property, birds call to one another, “chir-i-chir-i-chee, chir-I-chir-I-chee,” “shee-ir-a, shee-ir-a-lee,” “hee-heeeee-hee-hee-a-heeee.” While the announcers remain hidden, others dart across the yard, or flitter in the branches, making last hurried attempts to fill their fledglings’ bellies before nightfall. One pair, we call them “our tenants,” have built a best in the basement of our unfinished log cabin. We know they are there because they always perch on a beam before darting inside, checking to ensure the coast is clear. We probably should discourage them from squatting, but it will be a while before we’ll be adding windows and doors, so we figure there’s no harm in letting them raise their family there for now.

    Two yards over a horse I have nicknamed Toro neighs insistently. He’s distressed because his partner, nicknamed Craftsman, has been ridden off. While the clip-clop-clip-ip-clip-clop of Craftsman’s hooves on the dirt road cause me to smile, Toro huffs and whinnies indignantly again to call his buddy home. And even though his calls, as the calls of the birds, seem impatient and alarmed, they only add to the peace and tranquility of an evening on Peach Brook Road, my new home.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      I love this, Carol – what strikes me most about your piece is the way you use really concrete details to anchor us in a place and time – the TV shows, the Crayolas… so specific and grounding.

  86. Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    I just found #TeachersWrite and am SO excited! My first year/post. So happy to have this space and community to practice with.

    I sit on the weathered deck attached to my parents newly purchased, yellow shingled vacation home. Their fourteen year old Corgi lays sprawled out between the legs of the blue and white striped lawn chair that we\’ve owned since summer BBQs decades prior and the house\’s weathered exterior. The oldies station is playing Heart, Journey, Blondie – songs that I\’ve always thought would be crowd favorites at karaoke bars in that way where people have forgotten about them, until they hear the first three or four chords of the guitar or drums and think \”YES.\” I think to myself, \”Now that would be a good list to make: Songs That Would Not Cause People To Throw Things At You During Karaoke.\” The boombox sits on the inside of the open windows next to my left shoulder, loud enough for my mother and father to hear as they work on painting and weeding and pulling and nailing and sanding this new-to-them vacation home.
    I sit in the blue and white striped lawn chair, with its slats just wide enough to cause the backside of my ample thighs to get stuck and sweaty, so that every half hour or so I need to shift my legs and unstick myself. I faced the blue and white striped chair towards the ocean, about 75 yards across the long ago paved street and the crest of the hill. I can hear the tug boats pushing and pulling the enormous car carriers up towards Providence, a dull, deep churn that can be heard and felt in your chest from miles away. I see the white caps and the pale main sails of the sailboats and our neighbors playing in the rocky, shallow water.

    I sit, enjoying these summertime glimpses, even though I\’m compelled by the guilt of being their 31 year old eldest daughter, an official married, tax paying \”grown up.\” I should put down my book and unstick myself and help them paint and weed and sand. This feeling of guilt in the pit on my stomach instantly transports me to Saturday after Saturday when I was their 11 year old eldest daughter, and I was ushered and coaxed and cajoled and finally reprimanded for reading when there was work to be done outside. She and I are one and the same, except the 31 year old realizes that my mothers hair has gone from dark chestnut to a luminous gray/white, and my father\’s sweep of brown hair over his square glasses has retreated to a sharp V in the center of his forehead.

    \”They are older now, and I should help them,\” the 31 year old says practically, responsibly.

    \”But the BOOK is so GOOD,\” the 11 year old whines, pleading.

    With every \”Heart of Glass,\” \”Barracuda,\” Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin,\” that plays on the oldies station, next to my shoulder, hour after hour, the 11 year old wins.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      This is such a fun, wonderful post, Erin! And the details make it so – the specific songs & bands, the sound of the tug boats. (And I would totally download a playlist called “Songs That Would Not Cause People To Throw Things At You During Karaoke.” 🙂

  87. Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    I went back to a Slice of Life and reworked it with the mini lesson in mind. 🙂 I’m barely making it under the midnight wire. 😉
    I stood outside the stall door, taking deep breaths of the earthy, animal smells that normally calmed and grounded me. I had a knobby walking stick in one hand, a scoop of dusty yellow grain in the other, and my kickin’ boots on. One…two..three…now! I threw open the wooden whitewashed door, criss-crossed with a black X, and stood face to face with my foe. His beady black eyes shone up at me, comb and wattle quivering, Elizabethan red ruff puffed up. I was ready. And it was a good thing, too. He sprung up like a Jack in the Box with spurred avian feet forward, devil wings spread…and attacked.
    “Hi-ya!” I squawked, right back at him, boot striking, stick flailing, to no avail. My 10-year-old self was no match. He came at me again, bystanding clucking hens milling around the perimeter of the stall, pretending not to notice. Not to get involved. They subtly shook their heads, did that hum clucky thing, and ruffled their feathers.

    The scene isn’t over, but that’s as far as I got at this hour. 😉

    • Jennifer Bibb
      Posted July 8, 2014 at 1:39 am | Permalink

      I loved this:) I could vividly picture the scene in my mind as I read. “I had a knobby walking stick…and my kicking boots on.” I also loved the bystanding hens:)

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      Holly, Your writing puts me right in that moment. I am being attacked by the rooster. I love that the bystanding hens pretend not to notice. This piece is full of imagery and humor.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      Holly,
      Your writing puts me right in that moment. I am being attacked by the rooster. I love that the bystanding hens pretend not to notice. This piece is full of imagery and humor.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      I love this, Holly – and it would be a wonderful mentor text to share with your students, too – perhaps side by side with the original version, before you added more sensory details. It’s so helpful for kids to see HOW revision happens – in our books, they only get to see the last draft of many, you know?

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      I adore this entry! The visuals you create (Ten yr. old Holly with her kicking boots on) and the sound effects (Hiya!), had me savoring each detail. This is cute, funny, and a little bitter (unless and of the hens later became dinner). Well done!

  88. Jennifer Howe
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m late, unedited, and slightly off topic, but the place is real and the story is currently unfolding.

    Along the steep, winding, charcoal drive, past the long empty mailbox that still bears his full name, up the three gray steps to the faded red door, heavy footsteps contrast the quiet rustle of leaves in the wind. Rays of sunshine bounce off the crisp green grass and back toward the clear blue skies. The screen creeks, the knob turns, and the son enters ready to begin the job he wished didn’t need to be done. Impossibly, silence and darkness surround the empty spaces that have been and still should be filled with family, fresh pies, laughter, and love. The home has long accepted what the family now acknowledges. The heart of the household, baker of breads and mother to many returns here no longer. It is time for this family to say goodbye, empty the space of things but not memories, and make room for another family to fill.

    Decisions abound. What to keep? What to pass? What to give away? Where does the rest go? Who wanted this? Was it him? Was it her? Where did this come from? Has that always been here? The questions run and jumble through his head, yet enter his ears as if they’d been said aloud. Answers are elusive, but he knows where to start. Buried in a Dr. Scholl’s shoebox in a dark corner an overfilled closet are 103 letters. 103 letters written to her. While the family knows the letters hold the beginning of the story, until this moment, the beginning of the story had only been read by one.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      First of all, Jennifer, I’m sending love your way – such a hard, hard thing to do. You have captured that feeling of loss and change so beautifully with your details here – right down to the specific number of letters in that Dr. Scholl’s shoebox.

  89. Lucretia
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m a little late to the group today because I had to get up early and travel about an hour and a ½ to a doctor’s appt. So, here’s my snippet, revised.

    I’m going to have to get comfortable with this place. I have got to get over the jitters and the elevated heart rate and all the other stuff that comes with walking through the doors of this building. This place will be a turning point in my life, a place where I give up control for a few hours, in hopes of some closure on this yucky unit, of a chapter, of the otherwise wonderful autobiography of my life.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      This short piece captures the emotion of a nervous new place so beautifully, Lucretia. I hope things went well, and I love that you turned this anxious moment into art.

  90. Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Great mini-lesson to start us off! I am working as a literacy specialist at an experiential learning farm this summer and plan to use it this week with a group of our middle schoolers as we hike and find our place to listen, look, reflect, and BE. 🙂
    Thanks, Kate!

  91. Posted July 8, 2014 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    Summer on Long Island, driving down the road… I love this one pressing the volume louder: “Um boom ba bay. Um boom ba bay. Ba ba boom ba be be.” The sun is drifting aimlessly through the canopy of green leaves that shade the quiet suburban street. “Pressure!” Manicured lawns are dispatched with with taste and efficiency – pleasing but wholly expected. A world view that is crafted by a legacy of the Greatest Generation and post World War cohorts will do that to you – work hard – work hard – family – live up to expectations you’re standing on their shoulders they worked hard to get you here don’t lose it. “Pushing down on me. Pushing down on you. No man ask for under pressure!” I can’t believe he didn’t show for our meeting, Man, interviewing people is draining – can sense their vulnerability, and admire their courage. Putting it all out there taking that step taking that risk. Really what am I? Lucky some of this is also just lucky. . “Ohh I like this part,””Why love love love love love…” Singing a along now “Can’t we give ourselves one more chance? Why can’t give love that one more chance?” Swiftly taking the turn, onto the winding road leading h o m e… passing the mailman he’s walking slowly checking his letters a gentile reminder of the world I grew up in, singing again “Cause love’s such an old fashioned word. And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night and love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves this is the last dance. This is our last dance. This is ourselves under pressure.” snap snap snap… Pulling into the driveway turning off the car, stepping out into the warmth and sighs.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      Jenn, the juxtaposition of the music with the landscape here is so interesting – thanks for sharing this!

  92. Jennifer Bibb
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    I am so very nervous to share. This is a snippet of a WIP.

    The red dirt road crunches beneath my feet, and for a moment, I’m knocked off balance by the shifting surface of mud and dirt. I catch my footing and continue down the path. As I walk, scorpions abandon their hiding places along the trail, and snakes slither just beyond reach of my next step. It is hot. The combination of heat and heartache weighs on me from above like a ghostly albatross attached to my slumping shoulders. I walk on. The endless road stretches before me, and although I knew I would be travelling alone, the isolation is causing my mind to play tricks on me. A few steps back it was the sound of child’s laughter echoing through the dense brush that lines the western side of the road. Only moments ago the gentle vibration of a silenced phone ringing in my pocket, but when I instinctively reached my hand in to check, my fingers came up empty-just as my brain knew they would. I haven’t had my phone for days, and even if I did, the Community had long since demolished any cell or satellite service that would connect me to the outside world.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      This is lovely, Jennifer, and I’m so glad you decided to be brave and share it. Your sensory details really make the setting come alive, and I’m feeling a sense of loss for this traveler – it makes me want to know why, which is just what you want in a scene like this.

  93. Maureen Wehmeier
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    Ugh! Lost mine. I’ll rewrite tomorrow.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Oh dear – I think most people are composing in MS Word or another program, then copying & pasting here. That might be safest!

  94. Stephanie Severson
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    The morning coolness won’t last, but for now, a sweatshirt and hot coffee seem appropriate. The gentle breeze stirs up the ashes of last night’s campfire. It had been loud with laughter, the friendship amplified, somehow concentrated with red-wine and the heat of the fire. As loud as the fire had been last night, this morning was quiet. Mornings with the memories of a campfire were her favorite part of camping.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      I love this, Stephanie – and I’m struck by how you’ve brought me so fully to this morning-after campfire with all of its details in such a small bit of writing. That means you’re doing something right!

  95. Jennifer Cousins
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Ahhhhhhhh! It’s finally the time of year that recharges me, I’m on summer vacation. I stroll down the hill toward the pond, careful to not spill my first cup of morning coffee. With each step the coffee sloshes to the side of the mug. I pause for a moment to take a sip, the sweet cream tempting my tastebuds. In the distance crows speak to each other, almost as if they are having a very heated argument. Almost mimicking them, two more birds join in the conversation. Their dialogue back and forth sounds much more musical ~ a question, and an answer. As I continue to walk toward the pond, I hear one more lonely bird. His metallic voice is not answered. I feel sad for the bird wh doesn’t have a speaking partner and make a mental note of its call to try to identify is later with my bird call book. Maybe I will discover that the solitary bird prefers to be alone. The dew on the grass makes my toes wet in my red Keens. I wipe the pine needles from the bench and sit, facing the pond. I drink in more coffee. It has started to cool down, now. The air smells like a mixture of cut grass and the fishy, boggy part of the pond. I take in a slow sip of coffee to mask the smell. Splash! I look up and see the pipes of water on the edge of the pond near the shoreline. Maybe it was a fish that jumped, or possible a frog leaped into the water. I’m comfortable and don’t want to get up so I decide it was probably a frog, as frogs are my favorite creature. I close my eyes and imagine a leopard frog swimming under the dock. A noise interrupts my mental picture. The drum of dragon fly wings passes by my left shoulder. My eyes follow the darting motion of the dragonfly until it lands on a daylily about to burst open, revealing its orange flower. As I drink my last sip of coffee, I take in a deep, cleansing breath. My mind then starts to stir. I think I have to do a unit on vernal ponds next school year. Oh, I have to remind myself later to take some pictures of the daylily when it opens up so the kids can paint like Georgia O’Keeffe. The glistening spider web on the dock reminds me that I should have Eric Carle as one of my author studies in the fall. My son hollers to me from the living room window, asking if he can invite a friend over. I take in one more cleansing breath and head back into the house.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Jennifer, what I love about this is the way your details are so personal to you as a teacher – filtering those specific details through the lens of someone always thinking about the next project for kids. This is a great thing to think about when we’re writing from a character’s point of view, too – what would he/she notice most about what’s in front of him or her, and why? Setting gets filtered through character and emotion in a lot of ways.

  96. Jackie Keith
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    We are in a summer’s day, but not hot yet, especially in the shade. It is an excellent day to study writing. There is a picnic table under the oak tree, by the trailer that holds an office or two. We gather there at lunch to share non-class things and class things. The wood is rough, but not splintered. Painted with bird doo. We sit strategically. The low moan of lawn mowers is countered by higher whine of weed whackers and punctuated by car doors opening and closing.

    A trellis seals off the bottom of the trailer, but not quite. Little paws reach through, playing with shadows. They roll in sun spots and are piled with no regard for size or shape. Orange stands guard. Gray ones hide and peek. They say up to 9 are there. The momma us hard to reach, hard to love. Her destiny, we hope: catch and release so the little ones can find forever homes.

    • Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing this, Jackie – I loved coming along with you, and the line “painted with bird doo” made me laugh out loud. So surprising and great!

  97. Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    This is my writing for leTo my right, my son, Cameron, yawned loudly, seemingly unconcerned that he was about to be left behind in what could only be called a prison. His casualness at that moment baffled me. While I was terrified at what was about to transpire, his demeanor intimated he could have been waiting for us to drop him off at summer camp. His thin tooth pick arms limp at his side as he slouched in his chair, his mop of dirty blonde hair hanging in his eyes. “Why haven’t I taught him to sit up straight?” Looking at him, a mix of anger, shock, fear, empathy and love overwhelmed me and left me asking the same basic questions I had asked myself a hundred times already that day—what had happened to my son? How had we missed this?

    I sat motionless except for my eyes, wandering across the 8 by 6 grey walls, pausing to gaze in disbelief at the holes. Holes punched in the walls. This was admittance? Looking down at the folding card table covered in dust and grime we waited without speaking for the arrival of a nurse. Whataburger, someone’s late night dinner, permeated the air—onions and grease filled my nostrils making me silently gag.

    The nurse’s eventual appearance exposed the dispiriting reason for our presence. As questions were asked and answered, her weary smile only accentuated the fact that my husband and I were preparing to leave our 16 year old son in a psychiatric hospital. Somewhere in another room I could hear a television playing quietly as I silently ruminated over the longest day of my life. It was now 11:30 p.m., and I was exhausted. My inability to process the events of the morning had much earlier given way to dull acceptance but then became dread as my husband and I followed behind a silent ambulance transporting my son to Camden Hospital; this dilapidated building with a cracked tiled floor and admittance desk that could have been sold in anyone’s garage sale for two bucks.

    sson 1

  98. Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    To my right, my son, Cameron, yawned loudly, seemingly unconcerned that he was about to be left behind in what could only be called a prison. His casualness at that moment baffled me. While I was terrified at what was about to transpire, his demeanor intimated he could have been waiting for us to drop him off at summer camp. His thin tooth pick arms limp at his side as he slouched in his chair, his mop of dirty blonde hair hanging in his eyes. “Why haven’t I taught him to sit up straight?” Looking at him, a mix of anger, shock, fear, empathy and love overwhelmed me and left me asking the same basic questions I had asked myself a hundred times already that day—what had happened to my son? How had we missed this?

    I sat motionless except for my eyes, wandering across the 8 by 6 grey walls, pausing to gaze in disbelief at the holes. Holes punched in the walls. This was admittance? Looking down at the folding card table covered in dust and grime we waited without speaking for the arrival of a nurse. Whataburger, someone’s late night dinner, permeated the air—onions and grease filled my nostrils making me silently gag.

    The nurse’s eventual appearance exposed the dispiriting reason for our presence. As questions were asked and answered, her weary smile only accentuated the fact that my husband and I were preparing to leave our 16 year old son in a psychiatric hospital. Somewhere in another room I could hear a television playing quietly as I silently ruminated over the longest day of my life. It was now 11:30 p.m., and I was exhausted. My inability to process the events of the morning had much earlier given way to dull acceptance but then became dread as my husband and I followed behind a silent ambulance transporting my son to Camden Hospital; this dilapidated building with a cracked tiled floor and admittance desk that could have been sold in anyone’s garage sale for two bucks.

    • Georgette Nairn
      Posted July 8, 2014 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      I love the last line “the admittance desk that could have been sold in anyone’s garage sale for two bucks” it was both made me chuckle a little and made me feel sad at the same time.

  99. Posted July 8, 2014 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I am finding myself a bit like Frost this summer – I took a different path (signed up for a really big commitment) and am looking longingly down this lovely, winding trail. So I am leaving myself a few crumbs and bookmarking it – in hopes it will still be here next summer 🙂

  100. Posted July 8, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Flames spewed from the gigantic metallic octopus as a chorus of oohs and ahhs as Craig patiently waited in the long line to be admitted to his first Bay Area Makerfaire. Sure, he had glanced at the map and seen some of the promotional materials, but little did he know what was awaiting him. The sun beamed down, a gorgeous day to explore.

  101. Tina M. Shepardson
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Each day, the bus dropped Madeleine off by the apple tree. The giant tree sat comfortably in Mrs. Quint’s sideyard. Ever since Madeleine started school, she wondered what it would be like to eat just one, red, juicy apple from the apple tree.
    Now in first grade, Madeleine grew impatient. “How much longer do I have to wait?” Her feet carefully guided her toward the tree. Her eyes scanned the yard to make sure no one was watching. Her tongue danced with excitement as the apples grew larger the closer she came. The lowest branch waved to her softly, inviting her to try just one . Her handed grabbed the first apple she saw.
    Waiting no longer, Madeleine’s teeth dove into the tart skin. Her newfangled joy came to a screeching halt as she heard, “Madeleine, is that you eating one of my apples without permission?”
    There she was glaring at me through the large kitchen window, Mrs. Quint.

  102. Karen MacNeill
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t even finish tying my right blue sneaker when they are already at my feet. They started scurrying over when they heard me close the closet door. I sit down to put on my sneakers and they know for sure it’s time to go for a walk. Tanner, the big yellow lab looks longingly into my eyes while Holly, the little black and brown min pin stares at my fingers working my laces.
    “Ready?” I ask them both.
    They head right for the leash hook and sit.
    “Good dogs,” I praise and hook them both up.
    As we head out the door I notice that Tanner’s nose goes over the threshold first. His way of showing me and Holly he’s in charge. I smile and think silly thoughts about who pays the mortgage and feeds everybody and cleans up around here.
    It is July in Maine and I breathe that in as I find my stride with the dogs. Holly walks to Tanner’s left at all times as if he anchors her. Although his snout stays inches ahead of hers as we walk, he is the picture of support.
    My old neighbor Joe is hosing down his porch as we walk by. I can hear the spray of the water as we approach. Joe is grouchy, not one for small talk so I nod a polite good morning in his direction. He may have noticed out of his peripheral but I don’t really know.

  103. Posted July 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    The half-moon shone brightly from the dead center of the sky, lighting our way as we walked. We walked outside beside and behind our house, cows just on the other side of the fence. The earthy smell of manure and animal followed us even as we walked beyond their pen. We walked down the street in front of our house, a single street light guiding us on our way back home. Further down the street, windows glowed from dark houses. We walked and walked and walked. Need I mention that this was one of those flip-flop walks, too hurried a walk to wait for the tying of tennis shoes? But instead of being unpleasant, it was more than pleasant. It was nice. The stars twinkled in the black July sky, honeysuckle perfumed the night air, and the orchestra of tree frogs and insects created a hum sweeter than any box fan ever sounded. And (after one too-hasty attempt at returning inside), she drifted off to sleep. Maybe not peacefully, and perhaps a little sweaty, but finally. At last.

  104. Posted July 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Posted my You come, too…on my blog http://makesharegive.blogspot.com/2014/07/write-share.html

  105. Posted July 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Most of my writing goals focus on finishing a novel right now, and all my writing details go into that. But for some reason this prompt got me to write about an average day taking my sons to the beach this summer, recording the details that go into our mornings and afternoon trips to the ocean. I really like that, as I was broken of the habit of keeping a journal or diary when my stepsister passed my diary around the house for everyone to read during a particularly angst-ridden summer my senior year of high school. As much as I\’m not a journaler, I’m grateful now any time I stumble across something I wrote about the experience of raising my sons, as you really do forget certain details, no matter how indelible they seem, so I was grateful for the prompt to get me writing these down. The details are meaningful more to me than they would be as an example here, so I\’m not sharing the whole piece, but here is how it opened:

    I take the boys to the beach, where they can ride the low waves on their shiny wakeboards, or bobble looking down with snorkel and mask, or fish, watching carefully that the hooked lure not drift to other swimmers down current. We always say we’ll go in morning, but it is summer and we are kind to ourselves and don’t rush…

  106. Joanne Toft
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Sorry this got a bit long but decided to post it anyway – it goes with the bullying theme I wrote about today for Slice of Life.
    Walking home in the dripping cold of a spring thaw I thought I am finally safe from those kids. The snow is melting and the sun feels great even though I know it will freeze again tonight. For now I can walk with my shoulders down and watch for robins. I know it is early but it is my hope that if I see a robin this snow will have to leave.

    I am taking my sweet time when I hear them from behind. There are too many voices and feet moving to fast. I know who they are. I hear the familiar call. “Hey Boney Joanie still on this street. You know this street belongs to us Boney Joanie!”
    “Why you walking on our street?” they yell.

    Boney Joanie is chanted as they come closer. I am moving faster. Don’t look I tell myself, don’t look. Walk away, that is what my Mom said to me. Walk away!

    My eyes burn. I know the tears are there but I can’t let them see them. I move faster and then the whizzing sound comes and I turn to look. Bam! The hard packed ice ball finds it mark just to the edge of my left eye. As I stumble to stay up right I hear their laughter fading off in the other direction.

    I stagger home knowing tomorrow they will laugh again now at the black eye and I will have to listen to a new name for me. Maybe Boney Joanie will fade.

    • Posted July 10, 2014 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      Your writing stirs a protective anger inside me – I want so desperately to protect Joanie and pound the little riff-raff who tease her.

  107. Posted July 8, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    I will give this a try . . . The bright, vivid colors of summer are everywhere, on the prairie. While spending a lazy summer day outside, I note the blooming flowers and fragrant herbs as a rainbow of color. Red verbena, orange tiger lilies, yellow calendulas, a variety of green herbs, blue bachelor buttons, an indigo wandering jew, and sweet purple violas inspire me to examine all of the wonder and beauty that nature offers during the season of summer. I can hear many sounds of nature and the word onomatopeia comes to my mind. The whooshing of the wind between the long needle pine trees, the chirpping and fluttering of the birds, the croaking bull frogs in the gurgling creek, the kerplunk of the weight from my fishing rod into the pond, the buzzing of a bee, and the chattering and cheering of children playing baseball in a nearby field are just a few of the summer sounds that I can hear. These sounds inspire me. Ah, the sights and sounds of summer. ~Suzy Leopold

  108. Posted July 8, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    She woke up staring at the new dress, a white lace mini, and new shoes, and then she remembered the best part, she had a hair appointment scheduled. Money was always scarce and new clothes were rare, but she had never had her hair styled professionally.

    Her mom was getting married and she would finally have a dad of her own. It was a big day!

    The wedding would be held beneath a favorite green leafy tree, her special climbing tree, in her aunt and uncle’s yard. Today she would be standing under the tree with all close friends and family members, to witness the happy occasion. She would finally be able to say, “This is my father.”

    • Posted July 10, 2014 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

      This was very sweet and touching. I was eading it, secretly hoping there wasn’t a sad twist of fate in store. I especially enjoyed the details that let me know how vulnerable she felt (scarce money, finally having a father). Well done!

  109. Destiny Lawyer
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    The familiar thwack sound of rubber propelled by the toe of a sneaker resonates through the air indicating that the nightly ball game has begun. Tonight, rather than participating, I observe through the window in front of the sink as I clean up the dinner dishes. A warm breeze blows through the open screen wafting the smell of freshly mowed lawn to tickle my nose. I hear the gentle, high-pitched “achoo” of my son and I know the breeze has stirred up the pollen outside.
    Rex, our beloved black lab, stands guard near the stone bench my husband made me while the game ensues and my son charges around the bases laughing while my husband races to rescue the ball from rolling down our steep grassy hill.
    The warm soapy water relaxes me as I wash dishes and watch the kickball game through the window. I hear the “evil laugh” of my eight year old daughter as she dodges her brother and father as they try to get her out as she runs to base. “Go easy on me,” is her nightly line, as unless we are playing girls vs. boys or parents vs. kids, she likes to play against her dad and brother.
    She runs back to home plate, rubbing her feet on the ground like a bull getting ready to charge. “Remember, ghost runner on third,” she shouts as the sole player on her team. She get a kick out of beating the boys all by herself even though half the time, watching them try to get her out is like watching someone in slow motion replay on the tv, their movements are that exaggerated. I see the boys wink at each other and hear Ethan taunt her, telling her the next inning is theirs so she better bring her A game!
    My husband dances around like a clumsy bear teasing her to get him out as he heads to first base. My daughter leaves her position as pitcher and tackles him as Ethan shouts half seriously, “No fair. You can’t tackle in kickball!” They all laugh together and continue on with the game. My swishy sound of my dishwashing is occasionally punctuated by the thump and tap tap tap of the kickball as an errant kick bounces skitters on the roof and skylight above the kitchen.
    I watch as the sun sinks lower in the sky and the light gently fades to dark. I dry my hands and move to the porch where I sit and smile upon the people I love most in the world. As the game comes to an end, my daughter scrambles to her daddy’s back for a piggy back ride inside and my son whistles and pats his leg to get his best buddy, Rex, to follow him into the house. I follow them because my heart follows them always.
    -Destiny Love Lawyer

  110. Georgette Nairn
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Okay so I am a bit late with this first mini lesson but what a difference this simple exercise made. I wrote simply what was happening and the I just listened to my neighbourhood. What came out in my rewrite was a completely different take on the evening and something I was much happier with. Now I am fired up and off to check of Today’s quick write.

  111. Posted July 9, 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Catching up on this week’s writing prompts, Day 1:

    Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. I open one eye to see a patch of disheveled hair, the color of horse’s hay, poking this way and that. I struggle to transition from the bliss of sleep to the bright sunlight poring through the crack in my window shades, blinding the only eye brave enough to see.

    Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. My eye blinks, dissolving the dust of night’s slumber as my other eye reluctantly succumbs to the inevitable start of day. The hair that caught my attention just moments before sways to the beat of the tap. My vision trails from the hair to the eyes, bright blue with specks of clear crystal, staring back at me.

    The smile below the eyes radiates a joy of recognition as I see a reflection of my own blue eyes, crinkling around the outer edges. His head, a bobbling sphere floating from a criss-cross-applesauce stance, suddenly stops its sway as our eyes lock together in a moment of shared acknowledgement. The tapping ceases and time freezes; we are the only two souls sharing a secret of untold discoveries and adventures.

    In a flash, the shape below expands like a human jack-in-the-box and those brilliant blue eyes laugh with the realization that I am awake. “Mommy! Let’s play!”

  112. Posted July 9, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    My eyes sprung open in the darkened room. I lay in the bed trying to decide if perhaps I might fall back asleep, but the numbers on the clock radio filled the room with a lime green glow and my mind began its predawn ritual of worry. Not wishing to wake my husband, I rolled from the bed, fumbled through the jumble on the bedside table to retrieve my glasses, phone and iPad, and quietly snuck from the bedroom to the sanctuary of the “new couch,” a couch we have had for thirty-seven years, certainly not the newest couch in the house, but indisputably the most comfortable. I piled the square pillows around me, building a nest to cradle my aching back and hips, and settled in to await the dawning of a new day.

    My head pounded as if the infantry was marching through my house, raising a cloud of urine-tainted cat litter dust and releasing a flood of post-nasal drip down the back of my throat. I heard the click of the thermostat and knew the AC soon would be blowing chilled air throughout the house. The door at the top of the stairs swung open and bare feet shuffled across the oak-grained floor. Glancing up, I saw the ghostly image of my night-gowned sister illuminated by the nightlight as she traveled to the bathroom and back to bed. The stairs began to creak and I knew my husband was half-awake and making his way to the recliner in the media room upstairs. After much mumbling and grumbling and creaking of leather, he and the ancient black cat inherited from my mother following her death 14 years ago fell into sonorous sleep.

    Slowly the dark sky began to turn a pale gray, the birds began to sing their greetings to the rising sun. Cars traveled down the street, slowing as they approached the stop sign, accelerating as their drivers continued on their way to work.

    And suddenly, the whine of the coffee grinder and the heady smell of Ruta Maya beans brewing . It’s another day in Texas.

  113. Posted July 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Please see my response for the first assignment. I hope it is not to late to join.

  114. Posted July 10, 2014 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    I was late getting started this week because of traveling to nErDCampMI. So it is Thursday and I am submitting my Monday writing. Well better late than never.

    Mid-Summer Perfection

    CRACK…KABOOM!!
    The Starter gun breaks through the air pushing away the peaceful sounds of this summer morning. I am not sure what it starts or stops or signifies. I have lived here a full year and it still surprises me twice everyday. I assume, that it starts a golf tournament of some sort next door at the Western Links. Some days it’s precisely at 8AM and 5PM, but this morning it is 8:11. Yesterday one broke free around 12:27. Hmmmmm.? All I know for sure is that it consistently makes me jump out of my skin.
    I imagine middle age ladies in their spikes and skirts milling around like sheep. Then the gun goes off and they are thoroughbreds racing over the hills of wet grass. Their cackles and cries cause the songbirds to pause in disgust. I think their buster-brown shoes must collect the heavy dew in the leather tassels. They leave flattened footprints across the gloss of the morning moisture.
    Do they take a moment to marvel in the intricate webs caught glistening in the early morning sun? Has the hum of the lawn mower or the roar of the distant freeway broken into their consciousness? Have they absorbed the waft of wood smoke from somewhere across the lake? Now as the echo of the rather imprecise starter gun melts away, this perfect summer morning returns to its normal milieu of happy sounds and smells.

  115. Charlta King
    Posted July 13, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    My commitment to complete 500 miles this year gets me out of bed this morning. The deadbolt clicks and shuts the past and doubts behind me. No real direction. Just one step at a time.
    The cars sporadically line the streets. A few “Good Mornings” break the silence of the dawn. The pace on the pavement and the thoughts in my head are very different.
    A motorcycle whizzes down the alley. Neighbors leave their homes for another day of work while the teacher walks aimlessly around the neighborhood. Zig and zag. More miles completed on this journey.

  116. Posted July 14, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Down the stairs and I slide into my chair at the kitchen table. It is my solitary spot among the stacks of items waiting to be put away. The piles are reminders of all of the activities that fill my days and drain my energy. A click and the laptop whirs to life as a trickle of warm coffee fills my mug. I stare at the screen but it confirms the guilt I feel. I am a week late in starting this \\\”Teachers Write!\\\” challenge. The radio babble fills my ears as if to say \\\”why bother?\\\” But beside me – the box fan whirs. And its gentle push of air guides my fingers to the keyboard. Slowly, slowly, slowly the clicks become words. The words take on meaning. There. A beginning.

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