Teachers Write! 6/5 Tuesday Quick-Write

First of all, I have to tell you that you are amazing. I’m away at BEA in New York this week but came back to my hotel room late Monday night and read your posts and your commitments to make writing time, and I’m so, so excited. (I might have teared up a little, too. Collectively, the 700+ of you are a serious inspiration!)  I’ll be commenting more later in the week, but for now, I just wanted to say to all of you….well…wow. Well done walking that walk.

So…let’s get on with Day Two, shall we? On Tuesdays & Thursdays during Teachers Write! Virtual Summer Writing Camp, I’ll be sharing quick-write prompts, designed to get you free-writing for a few minutes in response to a question or idea. These can be used as a simple free-write, brainstorming, warm-up activity OR as a way to deepen your thinking about a work-in-progress.   Got your keyboard or pencil ready?

Tuesday Quick-Write:

Write for two minutes to describe a very specific place.  If you’re just free-writing, it can be a place that you love, or have visited, or a place that frightens you.

This is one of my favorite places (which also happens to frighten me sometimes), the Florida Everglades.

Anyplace is fine. If you want to relate this to your work-in-progress, choose a very specific setting within the piece and imagine yourself there.

When your two minutes are up, stop writing.

Now…if your place is real and you can go there, go there now.  I’ll wait….

If it’s far away, find a picture of it. If it’s not a real place, put yourself there in your mind. Now write for one minute about each of the following:

  • Everything you SEE – Pay attention to big things and tiny things. Search for concrete details.
  • Everything you HEAR – Be specific. Don’t just say “a scraping sound.” Say a “high-pitched, raspity-raspity-screeeeeaking noise.”  You can make up words if you want.If you aren’t in the place, try to find a video. Or guess what you might hear.
  • Everything you SMELL – Especially pay attention to the smells that surprise you. If you’re not in the place, pictures can help you smell. Look carefully…what would that dumpster smell like?
  • Everything you FEEL – Weather, wind, things that land on you or brush against you. Again – pictures help you imagine if you’re not there, and if it’s not a real place, try imagining images and then assigning sensations from a similar place that might be real (desert, tundra, etc.)

Now, go back and rewrite that descriptive paragraph. Include your best tiny, surprising details, and work on senses other than sight. Better?  More vivid?  This is a fun activity to do with kids, too. Have them write about the playground or gym or cafeteria; then go there and hunt for sensory details!

Feel free to share your final paragraph in the comments if you’d like!  I’m busy at BEA in New York through tonight but will check in to read from the airport if I can, and you can cheer one another on, too!

240 Replies on “Teachers Write! 6/5 Tuesday Quick-Write

  1. The air from the cool waters tickle your bare feet as you walk out on the rickety wooden deck over the shallow shore of Blue Mountain Lake. Hundreds of smooth rocks are visible through the crystal, clear blue water that surrounds you at the end of the dock. As you take a seat to dip your naked toes into the chilly water, you peer out at the Adirondack Mountain backdrop that sends an eerie chill through your entire body. As the eerie chill turns to awe, the fishy aroma (not suspicious, but instead lake trout, smallmouth bass, landlocked salmon, or yellow perch) that blows in from the deepest part of the lake overwhelms your senses. Is this place a dream? While the sun rises and darkness fades, there is a familiar tune that the Bicknell’s Thrush sing to their summertime visitors and helps to bring you back to the majestic reality of the Adirondacks.

    Kate, thanks for helping me get back to the Blue Mountains on a Monday night (a school night). Hoping to make the trip a reality in a few weeks (with a trip to Enchanted Forest for the kiddies).

    1. I love the air “tickle” and “naked toes.” I’ve never been to the Adirondacks, but it sounds like a beautiful place and your paragraph did a great job of bringing me there!

  2. Florida Beach

    Walking across the aging, wooden, boardwalk I arrive at the beach, and step down onto the blistering. hot sand. Thankfully, I had the good sense to wear sandals, since I’ve experienced this frying pan of a beach in the middle July before. In the sand are dark strips of dried out seaweed. I avoid these because walking on them often results in the dreaded, “tar on the feet” which is a royal pain to clean off. The steady breeze on my face lifts my hair and keeps me cool, even though the temperature is near 95 degrees today. Listening to the muffled sounds around me, muted by the noise of the waves, I identify the sounds of children squealing and screeching as they play jump the waves in the shallows. I smile gratefully as I remember that I have no children to be responsible for today. I’m here today solely for my own pleasure. My plan is to lose myself in my latest “beach novel.”

  3. The NICU
    It’s a place no parent should have to visit the day of their child’s birth. I could feel the water run down my hands as I scrubbed every germ off of my hands. Again, I squeezed more hypoallergenic soap and scrubbed my fingers, my forearms, every inch. I keep thinking of the hand hygiene lessons we were given the day before. I can hear the machines beeping and whirling, rising and falling and I can’t help but thinking they are the key to life for so many here. I can smell clean in the air. Medicinal clean. My hands finally smell the same way. Mothers and fathers are scattered about standing, pacing, waiting for some good news. The lights are bright everywhere illuminating our babies. Our newborn precious babies trying to grow strong enough to leave the only place they’ve known their short lives. Some parents hold their child in their arms yet still attached to machines with wires and tubes while other parents only have a heavy heart to hold as they watch their baby through a plexiglass box. As I walk by I can feel the pain from the parents of the baby in bed #3. Born just in time to survive his mother’s debilitating womb but way too soon to survive outside of it. I can feel the joy from the parents of the baby in bed #5 as they get to hold their baby for the first time since her birth two weeks ago. I can feel my legs walking what seems to be a long walk down an aisle that seems to never come to its end. As I finally read my daughter’s bed her very small space in the room is filled with balloons and drawings and cards of well wishes from friends and family all awaiting her healthy homecoming. The NICU is our home for now. A very sterile, very bright filled with medical rules home but nonetheless our home for now.

    1. This took me immediately back to the ICU where my friend’s premature twins were born. So, so powerful. Is your baby girl home now?

      1. No, our baby was not able to come home. After 5 days she was called to her heavenly home. My writing has always come back to that year since then. My writing has a clear division….before 2004 and after 2004.

    2. This brought me right back to the NICU when my daughter was there 6 1/2 years ago. It’s such a scary and amazing place all at the same time! I hope your daughter is doing well.

    3. Wonderful job of giving justice to that experience. I vividly remember the hand washing instructions to this day of entering the NICU when my twins were born and that was 15 years ago. Another idea to write down in my journal. Keep writing!

    4. This reminds me being in the NICU with my daughter was in 9 years ago. It is amazing how your words brought back the sounds and I vividly remember my raw skin from washing my hands. I agree that it is a scary, yet amazing place.

    5. “only have a heavy heart to hold,” breaks my heart! Good description throughout and great ending!

    6. Having worked in a children’s hospital I could relate so well to your piece. It brought back memories of how I would try to squeeze every test a doctor would order from a ridiculously small amount of blood, so determined not to call the NICU to say that a poor infant would have to be stuck again because the blood sample was inadequate.

  4. I could smell that stinky bar all the way down the dock, there was no way to get away from it. The closer I got to the Yellow Van Guy’s boat, the more I wondered what it was doing there. It looked so out of place, all shiny and white. Everything else around there was rotting so badly, I was surprised those so-called boats could stay afloat. The few people I saw looked like they’d been pushed to the edge of the earth; one more push would do them in, I was sure of that. Even if the Van Guy looked like one of them, his boat sure didn’t. No way that boat was his.

  5. Thanks Kate- this was fun. I’ve done this with my students so many times, & written with them, but the feelings I had are so different. I guess it means more this time. Here’s my paragraph. “Main Street, only two blocks long, runs southeast to northwest because the town founder wanted the best view of the mountains from his store. From a hot air balloon, you would notice the stores are held in by the bookends of the Methodist & the Baptist churches. In line like obedient school children are the brick facades of the drugstore, the grocery/hardware store and the post office, where the morning visiting happens. Sometimes there is time for a cup of coffee and the grown ups do their visiting instead at The Shady Side, the cafe across the street. I hear “Ed, what in the world are you mailing off in that big box?”, and “My goodness Edna, your grandbabies aren’t babies anymore!” and then, more quietly, “Hey Josie, how’re ya doing?” That last from Tommy Storker, new freshman at the high school, that I found out was running errands for his mother. The petunias in the planters along the street splashed both the color and the sweet scent of late spring, and there is a clearness in the air that only happens early in the day. The sun isn’t exactly bright, but illuminating. I feel illuminated, as if the energy inside me will burst out if I don’t do something, and do it quick. My name is Josie Brown, and I live here, a few blocks from Main Street. I come downtown to see what’s happening, and I’m waiting.”

    1. This could be a great start to a novel! I love “bookends of the Methodist & the Baptist churches. In line like obedient school children are the brick facades of the drugstore…” The dialogue is great too, it really draws the reader into the small town atmosphere.

  6. “From a hot air balloon, you would notice…” Something about that line sets the perspective so perfectly – I’m there, above, looking down.

  7. Tuesday quick write…Thanks Kate! This thinking inspired my writing about my Grandma’s kitchen…which also sparked a poem about my Grandma’s Hands…

    Tap tap tap. We knocked gently on the back screen door,
    Hi!  Come on in…
    Steamy air of the kitchen caught me off guard when my nose suddenly reminded me why we were entering in…Sunday dinner at Grandma & Grandpa’s house…the fried chicken sizzled away in the cast- iron skillet, half way done on the topside toast but soon to go into the belly of the intimidating, over-sized oven…where it would finish baking…Grandma slightly re-arranging her chicken just so in the skillet to be sure that each piece perfectly browned and cooked evenly without burning…the bacon-laced Crisco smelled of salt and onion as it continued to boil away nudging the chicken toward juicy perfection.

    1. Just read your poem & I love the memories that live in it. I also love that you’ll be able to share it with your students as a model; they’ll know that when you ask them to write, you understand what you’re asking them to do by sharing pieces of themselves. Thanks for sharing with us, too!

  8. I can see a few houses as I scan the horizon up and down the beach, small squat wooden structures with a brown-grey patina. They are the same color as the wooden boardwalk winding through the dune. Looking to one side off the boardwalk, I see what we call “shadow lizards,” small black shapes with indistinct edges who appear to glide so quickly in and out of one’s field of vision that you can hardly believe you saw them at all. They hide in the sea oats, which rustle in the gusty wind. The wind carries a salty, earthy, wet smell of living creatures. Although the day is hot, the wind prickles my skin and makes me shiver slightly. We walk in the dry sand, which is hot and crumbles beneath us, and arrive at the wet sand, hard under our feet. The waves crash nearby, thundering into the land, making the ground shake with their force. Sandpipers hurry to the edge of the foam and dart back to safety as a new wave approaches. A flock of brown pelicans soar above us in a line, skimming the top of a wave and continuing down the beach. The sun reflects off of the edge of the surf, shimmering in blinking radiance and making it seem as though a mysterious force is signaling in Morse code. At this moment we are the only people on the beach, and if you squint as you look around you, you can believe you are the first person ever to stand on this beach looking into the ocean and beyond.

    (I want to keep tinkering with this — still not quite right after fifteen minutes, but it’s a good first morning of writing!)

  9. We always wore our pain in the open for all of the locals to witness. When neighbors would stop by, they would open the door to the smell of poverty: a musty, pot-infused, dirty diaper, compost toilet, molding dishes kind of smell that permanently hung in the dank, pine tree shaded air. Those who drove by could slow down and witness, on any given day, fighting: a crazy woman throwing a chair through a window or breaking her little girl’s baton. A teenager banging her fists until they were bruised on the hood of an old VW Rabbit. Mother and daughter wrestling in the driveway–screaming the wind-caught screeches of barn owls and banshees. The windows were never covered by cute little curtains, and so at night with the lights on, anybody could have viewed the toys strewn across the floor, the unmade bed in the kitchen, or the old, red, cast iron hand pump that delivered water when the well wasn’t dried or the pipes weren’t frozen.

    Yet this was the house where I learned how to care for children, singing to my younger sister while I smoothed out her furrowed eyebrows,. I still remember the smooth touch of youth. It’s where I learned to cook, and the smell of my mother’s fresh bread, baked in our antique blue, enameled wood stove would waft through the windows on even a stifling hot summer day. It’s where I learned to write. To create. To love. To serve.

    And so now, standing on this barren hill, my childhood home gone–not even leaving a scar on the earth, I feel at loss. I know the rest of this small lakeside town is relieved to see this blight on the landscape gone. They had grown tired of the pain the peeling tarpaper walls represented. But with the long grass at my ankles, and the crickity plywood sign my scizophrenic mother has posted letting passersby know that the house is still there, it’s just hiding under an invisibility cloak, I can’t help but embrace the immense sadness that devours my heart.

    1. Bittersweet beauty…it is what made you who you are, so you must embrace it, but also, let the pain it gave you heal…thankfully, we have our whole lifetimes to heal and grow.

    2. I feel the same way when I go back to my hometown and drive down the street I grew up. I can feel you emotion and immediately connected to it.

    3. This line is what really pulled me in: “Those who drove by could slow down and witness, on any given day, fighting: a crazy woman throwing a chair through a window or breaking her little girl’s baton.”

      That baton is such a great detail.

  10. The edges are dark now, a rumble from the crowd is the only way to know they are there. Three minutes left on the clock, I tap his helmet and turn to my assistant coach with a sly smile. The blue jerseys shift like a pack of dogs, seeming never to settle. Our white jerseys break from a group to a straight line like the edge of a great wave. I hear the defensive adjustments barked by their leader. The safety edges up, our QB calls “red 17, red 17!” Then for a second all is quiet, a simple color wheel, green, blue, and white until the signal to mix heart, muscle, and practice. “Hut!”

    1. “The blue jerseys shift like a pack of dogs” – I love it! I am glad that I am not in the QB’s shoes. As I read each sentence, I became more excited for the play. Does the QB get sacked? Does the QB throw long to the end zone?

      Thanks for sharing and bringing me back to the stadium on a cool September night.

      1. Thanks for reading. I miss the sideline, been away from coaching football for two years… There is something magical about game night.

  11. 700 + ?!?!

    *runs to get more pompoms*

    I’m amazed and excited by all the great group energy… one of the things you will see as you work to become “a writer” if you aren’t already, is that one of the best things about being a writer is the community.

    Anyway, I’m off to the city today too, but will be back late to check in, here or fb or twitter. Likely the latter two.

    Happy writing everyone!

  12. As we drive down the road, there are requests to open the windows. “I smell the beach!” everyone shouts in unison. I take a deep breath and wonder what is so relaxing about this smell. We work together to carry all of our gear as we find the perfect spot on the smooth, tan, scorching sand. I find an empty spot among all the blankets, colorful towels, rainbow of umbrellas and different sizes of chairs filled with summer readers. I feel the warmth of the sun as we carefully spread the the summer scented sunblock over every inch of exposed skin. I run to the water to keep up with my girls only to feel the cold, salty water against my warm feet. The longer I am in the water, the warmer it feels. A huge smile glides by on a boogie board as I hear, “Mommy, I did it!” Nearby, a sand castle is being created as the waves inch closer and closer. I suddenly hear giggles and laughter as my youngest is jumping the waves and splashing herself at the same time. We take a break to eat our lunch that always taste just a little bit like salt water and sand. I see the Block Island ferry slowly moving behind the rock jetty. I explain that it is going to the sliver of land on the blue horizon. Sea gulls land near us with hopes of finding some leftovers from lunch. I take a moment to look at my three smiling girls and feel the ocean waves wash away my worries. A trip to the beach is full of peace, joy and wonder. I can’t wait to return this summer!

  13. I’m doing Teacher Writes! with paper and fountain pen so that I don’t spend my time backspacing and rewriting when I should be just writing, so only bits will wind up on my dedicated writing blog.

    Since I named names in today’s writing prompt, I included only these two lines from my paragraph describing my high school library at the end of the day in my post: http://katyroowriter.blogspot.com/2012/06/tuesday-quick-write-favorite-place.html

    “As the high school day winds down and the last locker-slams echo in the hallways, I can still sense my students’ pathways through the library today…”
    “…the concentrated essence of favorite black hoodie worn too many days in a row…”

    1. I still like to start out with pen and paper, something about the connection to the creation process. Today though I used my iPad as I was drinking my coffee this morning. The power to share anytime from anywhere is powerful too.

    2. love your idea of using a fountain pen. Come to think of it, I’ve never tried writing with one! I’ve just started an historical…maybe I should get one and see what that’s like? Love this group energy!

    3. Even with those lines, most of us are taken back to those locker-filled halls; slamming echoed a long way didn’t it? The words show me what you are seeing in your mind’s eye!

    4. Yes, we have all been there in high school. I DO miss paper and pen myself. I wonder if my writing is even legible these days!

  14. My post at http://www.teachingrace.wordpress.org is up! Here is a copy…

    I hesitate at the end of the driveway. My purple lined Asics weigh down into the cement, which has been dry for nine years. “No excuses,” says the tiny voice that nags in my head. I fumble with my phone as I loop the ear buds over my shoulders. Flipping through pages of apps in search of Pandora, I hear the long low who of the nocturnal owl that is settling in for the morning. I imagine the springtime chatter of the calling birds as they each flirt and hunt in their symphonic morning melodies keeps him awake. It’s only fair as he has done the same to me. I smile in the direction of the nearby woods and then wonder why the neighbors roses refuse to bloom. They are thin and leggy crowded around a young maple tree. Two robins hop around them hunting the dewy grass and I recognize that I have forgotten about the ear buds entirely. I turn my wrist to check the time and realize that I had not meant to wear the watch this morning. Will it loosely bump and bruise my wrist? Touching my hips, I know I have no pockets and will have to turn around if I want to take it off. The cool morning air on my legs is already a contrast to the brightening sun warming my shoulders. I refuse to give in. This chance will not come again today. I shake my legs sending the imaginary concrete to scatter like the water on a wet dog. Deep breath in as I will the movement that takes me off the driveway toward the cresting sun into the direction of my morning run.

  15. Climbing over the dunes, the roar of the water greets me as if saying, “It’s about time you showed up,” and the roar subsides into a tinkling while the water laps sand from the beach like my cat lapping water from her bowl. The sea gulls caw-call good morning. My toes barely touch the white sands of the beach in Port Aransas, Texas, my childhood washes over me like the waves wash ashore. I don’t run across the sandy road this time, but happily struggle in my flip-flops across the dry, searing sand to the water while my kids call to me from the small stake of beach they have claimed as “ours”. In the distance, oil tankers creep along the horizon, while under my toes tiny unidentifiable creatures are ripped from their resting place then deposited farther inland only to dig furiously into the sand before hungry seagulls swoop in for a quick meal. I wade through pockets of fishy air walking toward the water. The smell hits you almost as quickly as it leaves you, but it’s not unpleasant. Not able to take the heat anymore, I walk into the gulf, the water licking my legs providing immediate relief from the heat. I unexpectedly stumble into a deeper part, and the water changes temperature by about 10 degrees, almost chilly, but soon I’m climbing onto a sand bar and wading through the greenish-bluish-brownish water looking for sand dollars. Just one of the treasures you can find on the Port Aransas beaches, a treasure you can choose to leave or take with you.

  16. It takes a long walk to get to Parfrey’s Glen, you must hike down a gravel lane in the hot sun for about half an hour. Then suddenly, everything changes: there are thick green woods with a scent of pine and moss, a clear, tumbling stream, and gray boulders larger than life. This is what I imagine the Garden of Eden to have looked like… lush, cool, emerald green with moisture in the air. There are the sounds of nature as you walk through: birdsong, insect buzz, the splash of water… unless you happen to be there on a day when other tourists are enjoying it as well. My favorite time is to be there with only my family. We pause at the end of the trail to stand in awe of the beauty of nature and it is difficult to turn around and leave this place.
    A few years ago there was extreme flooding that washed out the original beauty of Parfrey’s Glen. That year it was closed to the public and I grieved for what was lost. When it reopened it was transformed, all the hiking paths were gone, old beauty was washed away. The power of water was there for everyone to see in the devastation. Yet there is a new beauty to Parfrey’s Glen, it is wild and untamed.

  17. I’ve lived in Colorado for nine years and have found many places to love over that span, but Crested Butte tops my list. If mountain landscapes stir your soul, I imagine you might feel the same. Everywhere I turn is another vista. Look east and there’s the butte itself, jutting suddenly up from the valley floor, backed by rows of Maroon Bells, brick red against cloudless blue. To the north, more Bells, the gentle slopes of Snodgrass, and jagged Gothic. Mountains continue ringing the valley to the west, explaining why the area demands roundabout access from the south. All these peaks mean that numerous rivers and creeks make their meandering way down to and across the flats as if they too enjoy aimless exploration. Hiking and biking trails provide alternate ways to nestle into the landscape. They cut through dark piney forests and emerge into sun-soaked meadows, splashed with pale purple columbines, magenta paintbrushes and gold mule’s ears among the wild flowers galore. If the natural beauty isn’t enough, the town of Crested Butte is its own small gem, a scant dozen blocks along the main street with just a few residential roads running parallel on either side. A visitor strolling any of these in the early morning will likely see a smiling local, pedaling a swoopy cruiser bike, in the direction of Elk Avenue and the sharp scent of just-brewed coffee.

  18. Absolutely amazing! Keep those pencils/fingers moving, everyone! Being part of a writing community is so special, as Gae and Kate say!
    Margo 🙂

  19. A couple of paragraphs from a story I’m working on—
    The driver angled the semi and shifted into reverse. Engine growling, the big rig crept back to the loading door until the trailer thumped against the concrete apron. Cold air flowed into the open trailer doors, carrying with it years of wet soil and dampness.

    “Here to pick up a load of sweet potatoes,” the trucker said to a dock worker lounging against the stucco building.

    “That way,” the workman mumbled, pointing.

    The trucker passed through dangling vinyl strips hanging as a baffle for the refrigerated air. He was in a long, adobe-colored hall, wooden ceiling receding above. More doors hung with vinyl strips filtered cool air into the dim space. Dank and earth-flavored, a breeze gathered near the floor, chilling his ankles.

  20. I am so inspired by all of the writing shared here so far. I feel quite intimidated but here goes!

    I glance back at the towering eucalyptus up on the path that led down here. The cliffs stand tall, boulders that special place where kids climb and venture freely. Dogs frolic and bound toward the water, inviting each other to a game of chase as the spray splashes over them.
    Birds glide over, huge dinosaur-like pelicans that look somehow like small boats as they float along. SPLASH! The best part is when they suddenly dive-bomb from the sky, making such a splash that I swear I have seen a dolphin, or maybe even a whale spout. The bright light and blue sky welcome me.
    Roaring waves comfort me as I close my eyes. Like the crescendo of the orchestra as they play, the sound grows to a roar folllowd by a chhhh…..that disappears into the distance. Giggles and screams as children put their toes in and suddenly find their bodies in the chilly water.. Shriek!
    Squawk, squawk..the gulls cry out . I wonder what they’re saying. Are they greeting mother ocean or each other? Children’s voices squeaking as they plan their sand castle: no, it’s my turn to take the bucket…
    I smell the end of last night’s bonfire, embers smokily scenting the beach with their brusque aroma. Memories of that last marshmallow linger with the faint vanilla comfort swirling in my head. The unmistakable salty, sea smell, brings me back to the days of Nick and Stef digging holes on the beach. Breathing in, the smell floods me with memories of my own child hood days eating cereal on the beach. A sudden whiff of cigarette smoke jars me out of my bliss. With the beauty here, why must you ruin it with your cancerous stick?
    Warm and blissfully baking my body in the sun’s rays, I feel peaceful and light. The wind whips up, from time to time, gusting and cooling me, and just as I wonder if I will have to leave, it stops, as if to say, stay longer.. I close my eyes and listen again to these waves I dream of. The song of the birds and waves comforts and also scares me as it reminds me of a bigger purpose. What am I here for?

    1. This part, right here: “Roaring waves comfort me as I close my eyes. Like the crescendo of the orchestra as they play, the sound grows to a roar folllowd by a chhhh…..that disappears into the distance.” is what jumped out at me the most. I really like that comparison, and I think it works well here. This is a nice beach description, very stream-of-conscious yet easy to follow.

      1. Thank you so much for commenting! I wrote early this morning and shared before really having much time to edit. I appreciate being able to conquer my fears of sharing my work here.

    2. Hey Joan! @rushtheiceberg (Steve Davis) here! So cool to see you taking part in this Teachers Write workshop! Yay!

      I do like this beach scene as you were able to create a clear picture, yet avoid beach cliches…I wonder if it would be more powerful to have the line about the cigarette be all by itself (it’s own paragraph, maybe even double tabbed indented) so the words on the screen mimic the jarring smell of the cigarette…Just thoughts! 🙂

      1. Hey Steve 🙂
        Thanks for the comment! Yes, I love your idea about the line about the cigarette separated for effect.
        I can’t wait to share more and see what you have posted as well. I am really excited about this opportunity to share with so many others 🙂

    3. WOW! you definitely don’t have anything to be intimidated about. You’re writing is amazing! I’m from a coastal city and this line

      “Roaring waves comfort me as I close my eyes. Like the crescendo of the orchestra as they play, the sound grows to a roar folllowd by a chhhh…..that disappears into the distance.”

      just took me right back there.

      1. Thanks! I spent a few years living right across the street from the beach in Santa Cruz, CA, so the place is deep inside of my soul.. I have always loved the beach!

  21. What a fun exercise, Kate! Thank you! (Can’t believe you’re juggling this with BEA…amazing!) I was surprised at how fast the time went. I always think, “I don’t have time for writing exercises, blah blah blah.” I’m playing around with a new–and very different for me–novel and focused on my setting for this. It was lots of fun, but I don’t have a coherent paragraph to share.

    Have a great writing day, everyone! So glad we’re all here. (700+?! Yay, and Wow!)

  22. It was just 10 by 10 with a cute front porch. A little shabby from the use and abuse the child gave it, or was it love? There was a steep pitched roof with red shingles, white paint, and green trim. Window boxes were stuffed with velvety purple petunias. Cloves, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, and mildew all mingled in the air inside. The moldering comics of Archie and Jughead, Dick Tracy, Superman, The Flash, and Betty and Veronica were scattered over the floor, bunk beds and desk. They were well read with tattered edges and curled pages. Life was slower then. No Facebook, cell phones, no internet, just the call of the neighborhood kids “Ollie, Ollie, over!” “Pigtails!” a voice would drift back on the wind.

  23. I can smell it before I see it, as I walk the wide turn in the road. I step over the chain hanging like a rusty smile, welcoming me to the beach. I am juggling all the amenities that make creatures comfortable in the sand and sun. I take a deep breath and sense that tangy, country-air smell that I know many people are allergic to; a mixture of goldenrod, thistle and freshly mown grass. As I hear the water gently lapping at the shore, I detect a slightly fishy odor that confirms I have arrived at lakeside. The sand is the color of spice cake mix, and is lumpy, as if you just poured it out of the package an into the bowl. The soft breeze on my face is confirmed by the shallow ripples in the water an the pontoon boats bobbing their noses into their docks on the left. I am startled by a loud quacking ruckus as a small flock of ducks lands in the distant water, their flapping wings making a new splashy pattern in the once peaceful scene. They settle quickly and
    plunge their waxy beaks into the water, searching for food. The sandy mounds feel soft and cushy and warm as I step on the beach. Small sandstones get caught between my toes as I walk toward the shore. They wiggle free as I take another step. Slap! A large carp has emerged for a one-second flight out of the water an crashes back into the lake. The swing chains are creaking a soft slow screech from the old swing set to my right. A dog is barking in a yard, three cabins away and the soothing growl of a distant lawn mower is occasionally interrupted by the sharp PING! of hitting a rock on the uneven terrain. I drop everything an succumb to the call of the water. It feels cool and I watch the sand melt off my feet as I step in. Swarms of tiny minnows dart out of the way as a trail of new ripples mark the path of my stride in the shallow water. It feels like velvet; soft, warm, and welcoming. I want to immerse myself and let it swallow me whole.

    1. Your metaphors are so comfortable and recognizable “… chain hanging like a rusty smile…,” “sand…lumpy as if you just poured it out of the package and into the bowl.” It’s a great way to hook your reader, connecting me with something I am familiar with, yet have never thought to compare.

    2. Ok, Mar–now that is writing! I am so glad that I know you in real life, too, and can learn from you about writing as well as so many other things. You have such a gift for creating images. I feel like I’m there! Now write some more–I want to read it!

  24. Here is my paragraph. Thank you so much for this exercise! I’m one of those people who really don’t visualize while reading or writing. This exercise helped me pay attention to the descriptive details I often miss.

    My ancient, tattered sneakers, the ones that I never would let anyone throw away, make soft, scratching noises on the thin slate-gray carpet as I shuffle down the hall towards the crossway. I peer through the picture windows lining the hall, the snowflakes glinting and shimmering like the light caught in the silver tinsel and little bells decorating the Christmas crèche in the foyer. I stop to touch the icebox window, tracing my name to melt away the jagged frost. The glass is thick and gentle, soothing and cooling my peach-pink hands, projecting a misty chill into the hallway, mixing the December winter with the dust and noise and warmth of the old church heater. I steal a glance down the grey hall, its length stretching down for an eternity towards the forbidden sanctuary, the Holy of Holies for Baby Jesus statuettes and blue-glittered Poinsettias and shoebox gifts for the children who didn’t have enough God to get by, let alone canned green beans and size 2T girl’s snow pants. Filled with the anticipation of the grey hall, gifts and Santa and jingle bells and snow and ice and cutting wind, I turn on my heels and run from the hall, down towards the kitchen, with pots and pans and insulated windows, always toasty and always, always full of perfectly ungodly humanity.

  25. Six trapezoidal tables, arranged in twos, create three hexagonal pods, under which six desk chairs nest, now unused. “Students,” you think to yourself. At the center of each table, obscuring the seam of two trapezoids, spider plants puff up out of worn plastic pots. “Re-pot those poor plants,” you say to yourself. “They need help. It is June 5th, and only one of the three spider plants has sprouted a single, pathetic newborn, the shoot having made its way to the edge of the trapezoids. To whom do I report this abuse?” Other plants, large ones and small, push themselves into the room’s negative spaces, like a Darwinian competition, various shades of green overtake what was once ivory and pale blue. Books overfill shelves, some leaning at counterposed angles, some crowded and erect, some pancaked on top of one another in shame. Two tall shelves salute each other at the edge of an oriental rug in need of a good cleaning. Two semi-comfortable, lawyer’s office-furniture style chairs in an understated and faded blue pattern claim the window spot, and across the expanse of the 4X6 foot rug, two more wooden chairs look on in envy. The teacher’s desk, an L-shaped fortification protects the far corner. It too is full – plants, computer screen, books, student essays, stapler, tape dispenser, Kleenex box, yesterday’s paper. Only the softball scorebook, detailing the hits, runs, errors and strike outs of a season that ended three weeks ago, makes you smile. Everything else looks too much like work. You stop and try to imagine entering this room as a new comer to this room, perhaps a 9th grader fresh out of middle school, or a wizened AP student hoping for inspiration but fearing boredom. The books, the plants even the hexagonal pods whisper “welcome.” The desk a bit more loudly warns “stay away.” Coffee, stale, probably brewed from a Keurig machine in an office somewhere down the hall, nudges your nose into a twitch – too familiar, like your parents’ house if you’re 30. Like your grandparents’ house if you’re still a teenager. Outside it is raining and green, green like the plants in this room except a perkier green, a green with potential. In June, a week after graduation, this room embodies what has been. It won’t be until well after the Fourth of July, perhaps even in early August when the green in this room captures the potential of June, and in September, is will sing with life.

  26. My library office is one of my favorite spaces in the world.
    Yes, it is cluttered with stuff; supplies for not only my library work, but on the table to the left, a tall stack of purple Gifted and Talented folders ready to be sent to admin for the summer; to the right an extra cart of new laptops that need to be cataloged, and a pile of papers that need to be filed for my Girl Scout troop that meets after school in the library. Oh yes, and books. Books line the shelves, of course; some of my favorites, some signed by authors, some from my childhood. Along the back of the office I have a cart of newly-arrived books just waiting for my finishing touches to make them shelf-ready. A special shelf of books that just might be a bit too much for my middle school readers is there, anxiously awaiting my reading and final judgment: do they stay or do they go? Photos of my family, the Cheez-It box signed by all the kids on the NYC spring break trip from the year we got stuck in a freak snow storm for 4 extra days in Secaucus, New Jersey (a whole other story), my Godzilla action figure, my Shakespeare puppet. I am surrounded in this space by the beautiful, the meaningful, and the whimsical mementoes of my life.
    Each morning as I enter this sanctuary, I have what might very well end up as the only few moments of utter peace in my day. As a wife and working mother of two very darling and high-maintenance girls, not to mention working with tweens and teens and teachers all day, this brief time all by myself in my office feel utterly luxurious. My own secret garden, filled with the heavenly scent of coffee brewing and that lovely new book smell. The soft mechanical hum of my computer and the air conditioning unit that backs up against my office wall soothes many a harried morning. As I sip my coffee and check my email, I breathe deeply in my safe space. I exhale. I am girded and strong and ready for the day.

    1. Wow. If anything captures the significant, but subtle lair of the weight lifter, that does. I love that you noted the difference in the floor and the way the sound betrays the mistakes made by one of the muscle-bound lifters. I’m not sure where you’d add the allusions to music, though. I had a pretty solid vision of this place even without additional detail!

      1. Thanks, Chris. I hope to add some dry humor to this, perhaps change the point of view to fit another purpose. I’m going to the gym soon and will snap some photos to add. I have used a personal trainer in the past and may hire him again just to add some verisimilitude to what I’m working on. Would love to share more of what I’m thinking about w/ you later, maybe via an ECN email. For now, I’m grateful that you read my piece.

  27. I never wanted to be here in the first place. Three years ago, I couldn’t envision beauty from a cow pasture filled with barbed wire fences, bawling calves and the ever present hum of flies hovering over cow patties. This was Blake’s dream, not mine, one of those things you do for the love of your husband.

    But tonight, as I sit, here I realize that this is a dream come true, a place of such peace and tranquility that I can’t imagine ever living anywhere else.

    As I walk outside onto our deck, I sense no temperature difference, the night is still. In a place where we wait all year for summer, being able to go outside without a jacket, is not taken for granted. As I sit down on the lounging chair, cup of chai in hand, smells of cinnamon and cardamom filling the air, I do not allow myself to think about the stresses of the day, or tomorrow’s to-do list. I am fully present. Aware of the screeching of barn swallows nesting under the deck, the howls of the hungry coyotes in the distance and the purring of a fishing boat as it glides through the water down below.

    I am all too aware of the grass blowing in the wind, a sign that it most certainly needs to be cut, yet for a moment, I am thankful for those cows who used to live here, for they have graced us with a beautiful carpet of green, one that would be the envy of many suburbanites.

    Although the smells of the lilac bushes fill the air, it is the ever present lingering of the day’s sunscreen mixed with dirt and sweat that seem to be a perfect concoction to lure the mosquitoes my way, and as I seek reprieve from their constant pinching, I breathe in the freshness of the evening, blessed that I am able to call this place home, and making a mental note to say thank you to my husband.

    1. I love the way you snake back to your husband, it makes me feel so satisfied at the end of reading this. “…ever present lingering of the day’s sunscreen mixed with dirt and sweat that seem to be a perfect concoction to lure the mosquitoes my way…” That line also really stuck out to me; I know that smell! Sounds like you have a beautiful home, and you write about it well.

      1. I agree… I love how your husband is a key part of the description, even though he’s not really in it. “This was Blake’s dream, not mine,” puts me in such a different place to read this.

  28. A casual observer–a father touring with his daughter, perhaps–would see a small kitchen, equipped only with the essentials: a stove, an oven, a two-sided sink flanked by a limited amount of counter space, and a refrigerator standing solidly on the opposite wall. Cabinets hang above the sink, with two below and a few drawers off to the side. A paper towel dispenser hangs on the wall opposite the door, which is thick and wooden and swings to the inside, where a fire extinguisher hangs. Small, yes, but nothing special. Yet, if I listen closely, I can hear the scrape of a wooden spoon alongside a steady stream of conversation and singing with the gentle rumble of a vending machine in the background, elicited by a hungry student after a few beeps and the swipe of a card. MUlaa, they call it. But our food, the food that comes from within the kitchen rather than outside of it, is more satisfying than that. Our food is made with the help of a box carried down stairs, one full of ingredients that make our room keys jingle with each step. Our food is made with a sugar bag crinkle and the gooey pleasure of dough on my hands. Our food comes from flour thrown in my face, from stories swapped over–and through–recipes and the watchful eyes of cabinets whose faces are made from plastic that looks like wood. Our food is not the neatly packaged kind. No, our food is made as we sit shoulder to shoulder against a fridge whose contents are bagged and labeled. “Room 147,” one reads. “Rachel,” proclaims another. We sit, with cell phone set timers in sweatpants on a cold tiled floor, quizzing each other on art history and reading aloud the meditations of Descartes. Our food is not neatly packaged, but neither are we, and we’re making more than pumpkin chocolate chip cookies here–we’re building a friendship. Can a casual observer possibly see that potential?

    1. How quick we are to judge as passersby what really happens within the heart of a place, we never know unless we care to look! Riveting Megan, you drew me in. I loved, “… the scrape of a wooden spoon alongside a steady stream of conversation and singing…” – kitchens are that place, where conversation flows, music is played and people can really be themselves.

  29. Iowa Farm

    The ancient Green Ash trees on the farm rustle gently as the wind dances slowly through them. They have stood the test of time; they give one hope. I rock softly in the old wooden bench swing in the front of the house. I survey the farm before me. It has changed in the last twenty years, much like those of us who live here. Gone is the corn crib, old machine shed, and barn. In its place is a much needed new machine shed, the old one collapsed during a horrible ice storm. We also have a new shiny grain bin and there is a feeling of modernization on the farm. Birds sing their sweet melodies and a slow-moving toad crosses the sidewalk. I sit in tranquility. Home is a wonderful place to be.

  30. Final Draft: The stark whiteness of the walls in my newly bought home are still screaming at me to do something with them; however, I have not yet found a color that makes me go, “Yes, you are the one I choose to wake up and go to sleep with every day!” The chocolate brown carpet meets the walls and provides a soft pathway to the comfort of my beautiful modern expresso bed furniture. As I work towards my bed, the sun enters from the far wall and illuminates the room, and each piece of dark furniture seems to glow and shimmer. While the modernity of the room seems very adult, there is also a whimsical sense to the room through the decorations of stuffed elephants and boxed dolls scattered around methodically to highlight the tallness of the bookcase and the smoothness of the window seat. Upon sitting on my high topped queen-sized bed, I can see the clean clothes spewing from out of the mouth of a tall white laundry basket at the edge. I disregard it for now in order to snuggle myself comfortably on to the smooth, satiny brown and blue bedspread laid on top of the faded purple t-shirt cotton sheets. I can hear the whirring of the air conditioner and the slight chill in the room indicates that it must really be getting hot outside even though it is only 10:30 in the morning. With each click of the keys on my laptop, it’s warmth radiates to just underneath my forearm causing goosebumps to form on my upper arm and legs. I wind my toes further in the top hem of the bedsheets and close my eyes to inhale deeply the scent of my Hawaiian Breeze air freshener. Although it is an air freshener, the scent of hibiscus, pineapple, and mango fills my nostrils with a tropical essence that I can only compare to experiencing in the tropics after the light rain shower begins to dry in the warm sun. The only difference between the two is that my room also contains the sounds of the growling lawn mower that gnaws on the grass in my backyard and the screaming neighborhood kids as they play tag. Not the most tropical or relaxing of sounds, but the do not deter my room being my ultimate favorite place to be.

  31. There is a strong possibility I failed to read the “write for one minute” (despite reading and reading – duh!)part of the instructions . My (not so) quick-write can be found here: http://df-dixie.livejournal.com/1154.html.

    I still need to put it all together into a final paragraph.

  32. At first glance, it seems like a great room. There are colorful balls and fun-looking pieces of exercise equipment—large rubber bands, weights, mats, all in bright primary colors. A small set of stairs and a ramp look like an obstacle course for toddlers. But on closer look, more ominous pieces of equipment are apparent: parallel bars, wheelchairs, harnesses. There is a tang of bleach and sweat in the air. No one is having fun here. A therapist tosses one of the jolly balls to an old man who says oof as it lands in his lap. A second later, he lifts his hands to catch it.

  33. I was trying to think of a place that evoked a strong emotion for me, and for some reason the daycare center my daughter attended when she was a baby popped into mind. Here is my quickwrite:

    I walk in with a sense of dread, carrying my infant daughter in her carseat, schlepping a large bag full of diapers, extra clothes, bottles, and pumped breastmilk. It’s a cold Novemeber morning, and I wish I could be at home snuggling with my baby rather than handing her off to strangers. The state of Vermont has labeled our childcare center with 5 bright stars, the highest in their rating system, but that provides only small comfort on an early Monday morning. I force my feet to continue on, and enter the brightly lit classroom. There are pictures on the walls showing the smiling faces of young children, and finger paintings of all colors are on display. I greet the cheerful woman who is ready to take care of my child while I go to a different school and take responsibility of other people’s sons and daughters. I wonder about this whole system, not for the first time. I give my daughter a hug and a kiss, and inhale her scent—that sweet smell that is uniquely her, mixed in with the light perfume of Johnson’s baby shampoo. I say goodbye and whisper a silent prayer of thanks for this morning’s easy transition, that I’m able to walk out the door without either of us shedding tears. I continue to the parking lot numbly, passing another mother on her way in. I say hello awkwardly, but cannot remember her name. Ryan’s mom looks just as tired as I feel, and I get into my car, leaving a large piece of my heart in that building. I make the journey to my own classroom, where I move like a robot throughout the day, going through familiar routines and discussing plot, theme, and characters with adolescents. I keep my eye on the clock, grateful when the workday is over and I can go back to that place where my daughter waits patiently for me. This time I stride quickly on my way inside; I cannot get there fast enough. I scoop up the warm, smiling creature that has brought me so much joy. The carseat and empty bottles are dragged back to the car with us, and we make our way home. I look forward to the next few hours we have together before night falls, and try not to think about the fact that we’ll be doing this all again tomorrow.

    1. Loved your post—I am right there with you and you wrote the emotions beautifully

  34. I watch the colors paint the sky and the wheat fields stretch on for miles and miles. The sun casts its warm light over the paper flat landscape behind my parent’s house. As I sit on the weathered and well-loved swing set, feeling the wood grain against my ankles, I think about how this has always been my favorite spot to sit and think, to write, to just be. I never knew exactly why this was until I ventured off to college. College was fresh and exhilarating and full of adventure, but I quickly realized that I missed something more than I had ever missed the teddy bear sitting on my bed at home. I missed that silent spot. At school, I could not escape sound. Sound followed me down the hallways in my dorm, down the sidewalks on campus, and even amongst the stationary objects in my room. There was no silent escape, and I felt as if I was suffocating; I needed silence like I needed air. Now, gasping in the silence, I hear nothing, yet I hear everything: the crickets starting their evening music, a columbine off in the far away distance, a plane momentarily buzzing over our lone, grass airstrip and then disappearing into the sky, the strong Kansas wind wisping my hair across my forehead, and my own breathing. I smell the fresh, dry, wheat-filled air, the faint smokiness of a field burning on the range. I feel the wind gradually dry my freshly washed hair and the color wash over my surroundings as I glimpse the final rays of the sun setting among the planes of my forever home. The biggest decision of my still short life weighs heavy on my heart, and I sigh my thanks to whoever’s out there for letting me be in this perfect spot to think.

  35. Proud I did this even on report card h*** night! Got home at 8:30 PM but wanted to keep my promise to myself to write. Wrote about my Harriet the Spy tree- no time to rewrite here!

  36. A place I love? Plymouth (NH) was the first that entered my brain, so let’s go there: of course, back in time, to when the farmhouse stood firmly rooted, surrounded only by decaying barns. That strong white house, with huge granite steps at both doorways, held centuries of memories inside the windows whose draw-boards could protect the inhabitants from danger. And each room, layered with the cast-offs of every previous generation, probably held layers of ghosts as well, all commenting on the newcomers, likely with disdain. Quiet whispers of wind accompanied those murmurs, along with the crackle of Grandma’s woodstove where she magically baked the bread that awoke me each summer morning. From across the road, cows called, mooing anxiously for a friend or complaining about the heat, the rain, or the quality of the grass. Too heavy for me to open as a child, the rusty gate to the cemetery clanged against the granite blocks holding the monuments and memories in, separating them neatly from Bridgewater Hill Road.
    As a city girl, the farm was both my escape and my despair: delighting in the quiet possibilities of long walks and free hours to read, but never actually belonging in this world. The house, the barn, the forest, the fields, the cemetery…all live on in my memory, though most are sadly transformed by now. Though the names in the cemetery have grown to include people I knew well, the rape of the land is too painful to visit. I can never go back.

    1. Were/are you from Plymouth? That’s where I live…and not far from Bridgewater Hill Road (in fact Bridgewater Hill is one of my running routes). How fun to see my hometown through somebody else’s eyes! Thank you for sharing. “The rape of the land is too painful to visit” is a powerful ending.

  37. You look up and see the old rocks worn away by the wind and rain over centuries, and then, as your gaze falls, you move from the bright, almost white rocks, through browns and reds and blacks.

    The breeze is cool on your skin as the wind is funneled to the valley. It’s hot, but a step into the shade takes the heat away.

    You move a step or two and put your feet into the waters of the Virgin River, and it is suprisingly, almost bone-chilling cold, even though it is June. This water was mountain snow not too long ago.

    Zion National Park, Temple of Sinawava

  38. Well, I just finished trying out this prompt, and I have to say that I am so grateful to everyone for making this online workshop happen. I’ve had a lot of trouble making time for myself this year–with teaching and the million other things in my life–but I’ve finally decided to put my writing as a priority again. This is exactly the kind of push I needed to get back in my creative mode. So thank you! Here’s what I came up with, though I know I’ll continue revising it:

    Perched atop the bed that was his mother’s, I note the delicate details of the space: sloping whitewashed walls and ruffled curtains, a washbasin and pitcher, a bronze hand mirror, dried hydrangeas in a vase. In the closet hangs her filmy nightgown, somehow overlooked. I slip off my sandals and swing my legs upon the bed, mine for the summer. I roll to my side, pressing my head into the pillow, which is musty and soft. Below it is a moth-eaten quilt whose hues of mauve and rose I trace with my fingertips. And then I see her: a young woman, my age perhaps, wrapped up in this quilt, her supple lips mouthing the words to the book she reads, a plate of buttered crackers at her side. Then I put her at the window in an eyelet sundress. She pulls back the curtain and looks down to the river. Are there crawfish in the traps? She begins to turn around, but I stop her, put her back in the back of my mind. I lie there for some time, trying to make the room mine, watching afternoon soften into evening.

      1. Thank you, Sonja! I just checked out your blog and “met” your office! I think I would feel right at home there!

  39. It was smelly. The smell eighth grade boys know well. The smell they are oblivious to.

    The air was thick like an unstirred jar of peanut butter. Your grandma’s house has a fresher feel to it.

    Colors were muted…its as if not light, but smell permeated the colors and faded them to various hues of wet cement.

    You didn’t really hear any wrappers or empty cans under one’s feet; rather, you heard cries from stepping in something, your not quite sure of, that is wet. You heard cries of lost balance and rolled ankles. You heard some infomercial trying to sell you some new oil for your car that is made from boiled radishes.

  40. tree leafs moving stealthily, slowly… cracking, rustling
    all kinds of voices murmuring, chatting, laughing… far in the crowd some whispering and whistles
    the wet grass… a rich, warm coffee aroma floating in the air… the particular smell of newspaper… I do smell the essence of NY, the city in all its fullness
    I feel like I am at home

  41. The steps moan in agony as the wind screams through the barren branches. My shaking hand cautiously reaches for the black iron door handle. My flesh sticks momentarily as the iron bites into my glove-less fingers.Reluctantly my leaden feet force themselves through the door into the menacing darkness. Fog hangs like a blanket inside the room. I ascend the stairs, my feet transporting me against my will. The musty, moldy air permeates my hair, my clothes, my lungs. An acrid smokiness stings my squinting eyes and bites at my burning lips. Up, up, up the stairs, my breath labored and shallow. Yellowed once purple and periwinkle wallpaper has detached itself from the walls; it curls and sags, snagging my shoulder as I brush past. I reach the landing where the stairs beckon me onward, upward. I choose not to follow, for my eye catches a reflection of a woman who lurks in the smudged glass over the window seat. That window seat–with the faded red and white gingham covered cushion–once a save haven, now a bitter reminder of the days when this space, this house, was pure and precious.

    1. I can see and feel the yellowed once purple and periwinkle wallpaper curling and touching your shoulder reaching out and saying, “Save me.” This house once pure and precious just needs someone to love it once more.

  42. Turning down the red brick path of the Church Street Market, my feet find their place among the uneven bricks that gently scoop down toward the center. I head toward the local coffee roasting company, the rich aroma hitting me long before I reach the door. The familiar chime of the hand-crafted bell earns me a greeting from the barista. After retrieving my morning caffeine fix and a cinnamon scone, I continue making my way down the avenue of shops and cafes. At the farthest reaches sits the church for which this walkway is named, a large white steeple looming above. It sits in juxtaposition to the stylish fashion boutiques dotting the row now. As a crisp breeze slinks by my cheek, I wrap my scarf more tightly around my chin, silently thanking the heavens for the warmth of the mocha in my hand.

  43. Where I am, there’s always noise in the shops and classrooms. That’s why the occasional sudden silences in the late afternoon after the students have left surprise me. Just a moment ago, I heard a ferocious, high-pitched whining sound from the auto shop that shares a door with my office. And now a deep-pitched rumble that makes my ears cringe, followed by a release like air coming out of tires as the heating system turns on. Someone passes my open door wheeling a cart through the school’s hallway. Sounds bounce off the stark white cinder block of my office walls. A lone bird call makes its way to my office down the long hallway from the open garage door of the wood shop. A slight breeze blows the shop dust around on my linoleum tiles and makes next year’s school calendar sway on the tack hanging from my bookshelf. The breeze smells like a cool rain that has just ended.

  44. I used a setting from my WIP and this is the result, which will blend nicely with a scene I’ve already written.

    Standing on the summit of Pike’s Peak is like standing on the mountain’s shoulders—I always liked the view from my daddy’s shoulders—but the view from the mountain’s shoulders is incredible. I soak in my surroundings, aware of the clouds hanging above, nearly close enough to touch as they two-step across the range, leading the shadows as they do-si-do. I watch the shadows dance across the lush green valley below and notice, for the briefest moment, a face come into view as the shadows swirl and change partners. As the winds shift the direction of the cloud’s dance, I catch a whiff of fresh donuts as people saunter in and out of the visitor’s center. My tummy growls and I leave the clouds, promising to return and watch them dance again.

  45. Here is my description of a place that frightened me very much the first time.

    The hammer and the scrape, the bang and the skronk. Ceaseless iterations of the world’s worst dubstep, interrupted only by the technician’s muffled voice. The cold medical sterility: plastic mask, plastic machinery, plastic passions. A self-imposed darkness; you could open your eyes, but all you would see is the framework of the mask and a hint of what lies beyond—the enormous magnets shifting. And then silence. Followed by a whir as you slide back into the more familiar fluorescence. A reprieve, as the unfailingly cheerful technician injects the contrast dye. A taste of tin as its radioactive warmth soothes you; a nervous chuckle escapes when you hear “Many people say it feels like you peed your pants.” And then a grateful nod as you realize it feels exactly like that. A whir and you are returned to your darkness, increasingly inured to the sounds as you focus on what the finished product will look like, what sort of color wheel will be produced by the latest scan of your brain.

  46. I wrote the paragraph, but then when I went back to revise it, I decided to make it into a poem:
    Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat
    A drumline
    in the trees
    The drum major
    a fiery red-bellied woodpecker
    keeping tempo
    Smiling pansies
    standing on adolescent spindly legs in pots
    on the deck
    Sweet smelling roses
    proudly dance red in the garden
    Chattering birds, raising arguments
    at the hanging birdfeeders
    The cedars whispering like lapping waves
    in the light breeze
    Here comes the sun
    announcing the day
    rays streaming through tree tops
    Time to lift your face
    It’s morning on a summer day.

    I thought of a way to do this with kids – read a couple picture books like All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan, teach mini lesson on sensory details, have kids write the paragraph of their favorite place – illustrate or bring in photo, and then try to make a poem out of it.

    1. I love how your writing became a poem. I also appreciate the writing idea for students. “Rat-a-tat-tat” I can hear it. Great use of imagery and figurative language. You must be a good model for your students.

    2. Holly,
      I love this ideas! May I “borrow” it to use with my 8th graders in the fall? Thanks for sharing!

  47. Nestled down a gravel road off the Main Highway is a farm of sorts, an exotic farm, not the usual run of the mill pig, cow, and sheep farm. A South Louisiana farm down by the Bayou Teche, the goat lady’s farm where goats gather on an old tire to rest in the shade. A visitor is greeted by the Amazon Parrot who calls out, “Hello” with his head cocked upside down. The crown of yellow shines above his lime green feathers. “Hello,” I answer. He gurgles out something that sounds like, “Whatcha’ doin?”

    Wanda Barras, the owner and head caretaker, shouts to a couple walking from the barn with a small goat, “If you have any more questions, just call me.” She turns to me as I write under the canopy of draping oak trees, “I’ll be right with you.”

    I sit a while longer listening to the background sound of the country music and the trickle of a nearby fountain. In this small piece of heaven, Wanda makes God’s goat cheese, smooth as silk. She flavors it with herbs that grow in pots near her little shop. I’m thinking I may have to come back for some more research on another day. Wanda tells me, “Next time, bring some friends and we can pull out the table cloth and have a picnic.”

    For pictures, go to http://reflectionsontheteche.wordpress.com

  48. The distant sounds of cicadas, laughter, and voices, young and old, welcome me. Heat undulates off the sand as I kick my flip flops off in the grass and step gingerly on the weathered boards that protect the sea oats from human invasion. My first step onto the soft, sultry sand feels warn and comforting, but as I move towards the umbrellas, blue, yellow, red, striped, I quicken my pace to keep my feet from blistering. Breathing deeply of the salty air, I try to focus on propelling my body toward the crashing waves. The inhabitants of the umbrellas greet me with smiles and waves; I respond in kind, but I pause only to drop my bulky bag and with long strides head straight for the turquoise water. I wiggle my toes thankfully when I reach the wet, wave caressed sand. I stand and wait until the water dances and swirls around my ankles and then recedes beckoning me further into the ocean. I answer the call and jump waves bouncing and blundering may way out toward calmer water. Once my feet no longer make contact with the ocean floor, I lean back, arms wide and float peacefully embracing the joy of summer.

  49. I went a little nuts and ended up writing an entire blog post about Teachers Write and told much more of a story than I intended at http://mrskervina.blogspot.com/2012/06/teacherswrite-and-day-2-quickwrite.html. Here’s my last, most descriptive, paragraph.

    Even though we’ve changed the beeyard and expanded it since then, I still love to go into it on a cool spring afternoon, just to see the bees at work. Sometimes, I like to pull a chair out into the yard, ignoring the cars and people passing only 20 feet away, and watch the bees come and go. Early in the season, while the nectar flows readily, the bees ignore me and I can sit 3-4 feet away for a close view. That puts me almost into the flight path and I hear them, and can sometimes even feel the air move, as the dive past me to bring the hive their secret loads of nectar or the garrulously-colored pollen they carry on their legs like puffy pants. I tune out the afternoon traffic on our busy residential street and focus on the hum of healthy hives, a sound created in part by the coming and going of the bees as they whirl up and away from or dive straight back into the entrances and in part by the bees who stand just outside those entrances, fanning their wings to cool the hive and to send the scent of home winging toward their foraging sisters. The watching the flights, listening to the sound of the living hive, and breathing that unique scent of honey, wax, and something that I can only describe as bee smell puts me at ease. I can lose minutes without noticing. In the beeyard, I’m not the center of activity, nor am I even a significant part of the scene; I’m just a minor flight path diversion.

  50. This is part of the story that I am working, or should I say WIP. I look forward to hearing some feedback on this section. Thanks everyone!!!

    I run out the front screen door, heading down the steps of the front porch hearing the screen porch door CLAP…CLAP…CLAP behind me. As I hit the outside heavy sticky air, it’s like walking right into a cement wall. I feel like I am moving in slow motion in a big huge container of thick hot syrup the size of Iowa. I jump off the short cement wall down to the sidewalk and grab the handlebars of my bike, pulling it up towards me. I drape one leg over my bike, place my foot on the peddle and begin to pump my legs trying to go faster down the street towards my grandma’s house. Quickly, I decide to take a sharp left turn down the sidewalk and go down an alleyway to my grandma’s backyard. It is faster and I am so stinkin’ hot, I reason. Plus, my shorts and shirt is sticking to my skin like plastic. I am quite scared, as sweat covers my forehead and drips off, as if it was raining down hard on me, to peddle past the old creepy forest house. That house always scares me.

    1. I like it. I can definitely feel the setting. Just curious…is he hurrying to get somewhere (to grandma’s) or to get away from something (something in the house he was just leaving)?

      Good description. 🙂

      1. This is in the middle of the beginning of the story. I want to write what I may use in my WIP. Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate you taking the time…now onto yours! 🙂

  51. Sorry…a little longer than a paragraph, but this is my recollection of a trip to Coney Island in March (with a little imagination added in). (p.s. Any Death Cab for Cutie fans recognize my theme??)

    I’m sitting quietly in the back as the subway car travels over rickety rails, gasping for breath in the chilly March air. Little by little, the subway car empties at each stop until I’m the last remaining passenger. “Last stop, Coney Island!” echoes in the empty station. “Last stop, Coney Island!” The door closes behind me as I head toward the stairs. I walk down the steps of a lonely corridor, out of the vacant terminal, and into the sunlight of the silent street.

    I cross the street and see the giant Wonder Wheel motionless, holding only the ghosts of summer-tanned bodies. There are no hearts to spin giddy by a Tilt-a-Whirl that stands still. There are no blinking lights, no explosions of color, and no music to fill the lifeless air.

    I walk a little farther to the boardwalk. A lone bicycle leans against the rail, waiting for someone to return. Behind it, an endless blanket of sand and the smooth ocean waves also wait patiently for someone to return. Everything is closed at Coney Island.

    Just as I’m about to turn around to leave, I see the Wonder Wheel sign flash, just once. I hear a low groan that turns into a slow whirring sound. I walk closer and see the Tilt-a-Whirl slowly begin to turn. At the same time, several blue and red and yellow lights begin to blink on and off. I take a step inside and see the amusement park begin to come to life around me. I look up at the giant Wonder Wheel that has just begun moving. Someone bumps into me, causing me to lower my gaze out of the sky. I blink, not believing what I see.

    Crowds of people populate the spaces all around me. Music, voices, and squeals of delight fill the air. A man on stilts and a clown pass me as a young boy runs by me on the other side. Unconsciously, I begin walking forward, further into the amusement park. Flashing lights surround me and an exotic melody fills my ears.

    “Cotton candy, miss?” A young man calls out to me, waving what looks like a giant blue Q-tip at me. I don’t say anything. I try, but I can’t utter a sound. The young man smiles at me, walks over, and hands me the cotton candy. “It’s just for you. See you soon.” He smiles and walks on.

    Pulled forward by some external force, I continue to walk on, holding my cotton candy with both hands like a young child would. I stop in front of the Tilt-a-Whirl where screaming girls and boys exit with flushed faces. I stare at their faces, so full of life, and can hear the wild beating of their hearts.

    “Step up, young lady. Take a turn.” The ride operator smiles and holds out his hand, as if to usher me through the gate. “I’ll hold your cotton candy.” He urges me forward. “There’s one car left, just for you.”

    Even though I’m deathly afraid of the Tilt-a-Whirl, I feel myself handing over my cotton candy and walking forward. I sit down in the last empty car, and almost instantly I am spinning. Music flows in and out of my ears as I spin left and then right and then left again. Lights blur all around me: blue, green, purple, yellow, red, and orange. I hear squeals of delight that seem to come from right next to me, but there is no one else in the car with me. The car slows for just a moment, enough for me to catch my breath. Then it speeds up again. The faces, colors, and music continue to blur all around me as I spin left and then right and then left again. I hear the squeals again, and this time, I realize they are coming from my own mouth. Finally, the cars slow their spinning and come to a rest. The ride is over.

    Spun into a dream within a dream, I step out of the car and walk toward the exit. I feel the flush in my own cheeks and in my heart. My own once lifeless heart has been spun full of giddiness.
    “Here you go, young lady.” As I walk past the ride operator, he hands me an ice cream in place of my cotton candy. I take it and smile. “See you soon,” he says to me as I exit the ride.

    I walk back out into the sea of people. The lights are even brighter now and the music even louder. My ice cream suddenly has a rainbow of sprinkles on it. I taste it. The daring combination of bananas and pistachios taste surprisingly sweet and pleasurable, and the coolness on my tongue is refreshing. A quiet June breeze has replaced the chilly March air I felt upon my arrival.

    I continue to stand in the current of people as I finish my ice cream cone. A clown stops and places a balloon puppy at my feet. An older woman, who looks exactly like my late grandmother Constance, places a candy necklace around my neck and holds my hand gently before walking away. A juggler walks by but slows down just to perform for me. The amusement park has come to life all around me.

    When I’ve finished my ice cream, I walk back toward the Wonder Wheel. So high up in the air, the cars look like little red and yellow and little blue and yellow toy boxes. They sway delicately back and forth as the giant wheel moves slowly and, it seems to me, almost gracefully. I look around at not only the giant Wonder Wheel in front of me but also at the lights and colors and faces. I feel the gentle breeze in my face as the melody of that exotic yet familiar music fills my ears. I place my hand over my heart and can’t help but smile.

    1. I love the description…the one thing that I think can be the hardest is to show…not tell. Showing involves describing the place. I think you did this really well. It was quite long, but was needed to tell the whole story.

      Great job so far!

  52. The place I think of is the church camp we have volunteered for over 18 years. It is a beautiful place in the rolling hills of southern Ohio. At night I love to lay in the middle of the soccer field and look at the billions of stars overhead. They twinkle and fade in and out as I watch them in the blackness of the night. While watching the stars, the crickets, owls, and birds love to talk with one another in the darkness. Not another sound is heard out in the middle of the camp. As I take a deep breath, I can smell the hundreds of pine trees that surround the camp. It all reminds me of the church camp I attended as a child. Why is it that a camp is all the more special when it is surrounded by pine trees? It is a calming and serene place that I love to visit.

  53. Two minute quick-write–30 minutes, 3 sentences, wonderful memories, fertile ground…

    The air is cold, the quilts heavy, the mattress big and soft, and I lie in bed avoiding the chilly barefoot trip to the outhouse. The wood stove lids clank into place and the morning fire crackles and fills the camp with smoke and warmth. Next, Gram will make toast in the flip-sided toaster, creating a burnt-toast-grammie-camp-idyllic-childhood association that I treasure to this day.

    1. This took me back to my own childhood and similar cold morning trips to the outhouse. Thanks for the trip!

  54. When I’m not there, I want to be there. When I’m there, I get totally lost in the moment and my mind wanders. The dirt and rocks beneath my feet call to me-urging me to run faster. My dogs run free beside me zig-zagging from one side of the woods to the other hoping to capture the rabbit they have sniffed out. Every few miles they get bored of the hunt and jump in the swampy ditch water to cool off. The birds are singing a new song I’ve never heard before, reminding me of the reason I have never used the hundred dollar iPod I bought for jogging. The aroma of the poplar trees tickles my nose and a smile spreads across my face as the dogs unknowingly flush a partridge my way. Sweat begins to drip down my forehead just as a gentle breeze fans my face. At the culvert where I always pick up my pace, I slow down instead. I want this moment to last forever.

  55. Pine and hardwood forests so thick sunlight cannot penetrate. The spice of sap, earth, vegetation growing, decaying, hangs in the air. A snug white cottage in a clearing, along the bend of a gravel road. On close inspection the road is broken shells, hunks of coral skeleton, shark’s teeth, things that were alive, millennia ago. Another clearing just across from the first – a tiny cemetery miraculously not overtaken by the trees, living, breathing sentries respectfully standing back from someone’s hallowed ground. Babies buried under tiny stones bearing lambs, strings of siblings living one, two years, dying one, two months apart. White marble eroding, mold spreading, lichen flourishing, but names can still be read: Lacy Jane and Leafy Jean, Our Little Angels. Aubrey and Audrey, twins, Sleeping in the arms of Jesus. One steps carefully on this ground and more carefully still, as the earth is soft, sinks in. Moles have gone rampant; what exactly are they tunneling through-? There is another house here, a little further round the bend. The roof still visible through the treetops, when the light is right. Shrouded from passersby, a recluse in the deep, the dark, keeping its stories to itself. Who lived and died there? Whose love and laugher once rang those hidden walls? I am a child, still afraid of ghosts and there are so many in this place but now it is day, summer, snaky, sweaty-hot, air as heavy as bathwater, mosquitoes and green-eyed yellow flies piercing my skin and stealing my blood. Brilliant light, blinding, casting dark shadows behind the stones but never penetrating the woods with their secrets cool and dark. And the cicadas drown out everything, their rattling music loud, waning, rising, falling like the nearby tides where ancient things lived. The rhythm itself is ancient, a song of hope, of belonging; the buzzing timbre penetrates my brain, my heart, sends me calmly off to sleep at night in the white cottage where I know I am safe, loved, forever and ever.

  56. The gentle curve of the sidewalk is lined with trees and tapered by sweet smelling grass. Orange and purple flowers break the monotony of the brick wall separating my path from the track homes on the left. I am amazed that the gently swaying trees, once small straplings, now stretch like teenagers reaching for the freedom of sun and sky. The smell of my own sweat and the soft pad of my son’s flip flops draws my attention back to the fact we have been walking now for twenty minutes. Only half way done with our morning walk, i enjoy our breathy silences punctuated by conversation. While our walk takes up most of the first hour of our day, i realize that it adds much more time to the day as a whole.

  57. I thought the California beaches would be warm, like they looked on TV. But I found myself wishing for a sweater, especially after I saw the lifeguards in red jackets. Lifeguards in jackets? They never show that on TV.
    The wind relentlessly throws sand at me, and I can hardly keep my book open to the right page. The breeze blows the smell of salt, and fish, and the banana coconut tropical scent of sunscreen, as I watch the surfers tumble through the giant waves. I feel grit in my mouth every time I take a drink. The gulls screech, the ocean pounds the shore, and music plays the soundtrack of the day.
    My son returns from the water’s edge, dragging his boogie board, dripping wet and shivering, but desperate to have a good time on the California beach we’ve traveled so far to reach.

  58. How do these amazing lines just come to everyone? All of you should be published writers!! While I did not write a lot, I definately reached my daily time allotment for writing and then some. This does not come easy.

    An early morning wake-up on the weekend can only mean one thing: a trip to the beach. We load the car, pile the kids in, and we’re off. The back and forth bickering cannot dampen my mood. At some point in the drive, the windows get rolled down, and we let the scent of beachiness waft over us. With my head back and my eyes closed, I let the cool, salt water air flow through me. You could feel the excitement as we pull in line behind a long row of cars, all waiting to fork over an ever-increasing parking fee. The pails, shovels, blankets, chairs, cooler, and boogey boards get unloaded, and we begin our long trek. We look like marching ants as we navigate around the blankets scattered on the beach. The sounds of flip-flapping umbrellas and crashing waves fill our ears. Occasionally, the pleasant ocean scent is overcome by the stank odor of cigarettes. As I steer my children in a different direction, we take great care in stepping just so, to keep the sand from landing on an unsupsecting sunbather. We find a spot that seems as if it has been waiting just for us. We have found our little piece of heaven for the day.

    1. I remember beachiness.And it does flow through you.
      I too think I might be out of my league. but here we are.
      We are creating our own with amazing lines. I have moved far away from my beach.But I am sitting in the car with you right now.

  59. This was more difficult than I thought it would be. I need to do a better job of making time to let go of time and just write!

  60. I tried so hard to think of a place. A place my heart and soul are most happy. I could not find such a place. I started to worry, do I not have such a place. Oh no! where do I go. I went to sleep thinking about what is my favorite smell, what is my favorite thing to do….Still, I woke with no place to go. I went for my morninng walk to the park, and as usally my legs took me to the Library at the end of the Park. Our new library just opened this weekend. And sitting at the table looking out the window I sighed, taking that deep breath I smelled it…..My favorite smell in the world, the smell of books. I quickly jump up grabbed the first book off the shelf. Cracked it open. And sniffed! A long slow sniff. It was a Star Wars Novel. I could feel the smell of those pages right down to my toes. I reached for another book with a new smell. I looked around to make sure no one was watching me sniff books, but then I really didn’t care.
    I found my place, my favorite place, You can hear the sounds of children whispering words,sounds like music, you feel the cool openness of the space, a space filled with books. I sit with my eyes closed, being ever so still.
    Realizing that I was actually at my favorite place, that I some how my heart and my soul knew where to go. I could not control the tears.

  61. And then I found it. A small periwinkle blue cloth journal with what looked like a hummel girl in wood glued to the outside. I opened it and read my own mother’s 10 year old girl handwriting. It was beautiful. It was gold. I read that journal 5 times over before I could put it down and check in with my grandmother. I didn’t breath much when I read it . I wanted to be her friend. I got to see how she thought in a way I never had known before. She was sweet and quite innocent. Much more innocent than I had been at 10 years old. She chatted about a friend she had made in Vienna where she had lived one year when her father was a visiting professor. I felt funny all of sudden. Much like I’d seen something no one was meant to see. I said goodbye to the journal out loud in the attic that day. I tucked it back where I had found it. I smiled at a photo of my own mother that lay on top of the blue journal and sent her a telepathic message that I wouldn’t share any of these secrets. I’d be her friend.

  62. Thank you, Laura, for inviting me into that beautiful sanctuary of yours each summer. I am awash with gratitude as I anticipate our time there at the end of July. I can not wait to be lying on the beach in silky sand, feeling the warmth of the sun caress my skin, making me sleepy and relaxed. Even the fresh ocean air calms me. It brushes over me, keeping the warmth from becoming oppressive and leaves me in danger of lying too long and getting sun burnt! When the wind blows my tangled, ocean- soaked hair into my mouth, it tastes of salt water and sand. The sound of the crashing waves, rhythmic and hypnotic, lulls me deeper in the lovely, sinking, feeling of perfect relaxation. Eventually it is time for the walk from the beach back to the house; hopping from foot to foot in an attempt to get through the rocky, prickly part as quickly as possible; trudging through the quaint little path, feeling the prickly weeds brush against my sandy, salty, sun-kissed skin. I dart across the hot paved road, burning the soles of my feet, wishing I had remembered my sandals! Then comes the gleeful relief of finding my feet landing in the springy, cool, fresh grass of your beautiful lawn. I love looking up at the gorgeous Vineyard house with the classic blue hydrangeas and your sweet little garden with the bench and the rock, knowing that the outdoor shower awaits. There I’ll shed my sandy bathing suit, and stand naked yet protected from prying eyes, out in the open air and wash all the sand and salt away. I watch the soap swirl in sudsy spirals down the drain, wrap a fluffy towel around myself and step back onto the lawn, clean, warm and happy after an afternoon of quiet bliss. So glad to be with my dear friend in this beautiful place where worries and stress are so far away.

  63. My oasis. Our home. It’s not professionally decorated but it suits us just fine. It’s like a well worn pair of jeans. It just fits us perfectly. As I walk in the kitchen from the garage, the scents tell me I’m home. You can’t have three boys and two dogs with out scents. They blend together and seem to be one. Is this what a boy smells like? Or a dog? The two are fused together and overlaid with momma’s touches – this morning’s pancakes, berry Scentsy.
    The squeals, yells, and an ever deepening voice holler “Momma!” and melt my heart. My boys run to greet me. I am attack hugged. One lands at my knees, one wraps around my waist and one grabs my shoulders. They compete for space and Ifeel their love. I try to grab them all. Each one chatters about his day. I try to listen to each. Finally, peace must prevail and I ask each to take his turn.

    1. Love this! I don’t have boys, but I have a little girl so I understand your feelings! Isn’t being a mom great–even if the house is crazy:D

  64. Posted in my TeacherS Write Blog 🙂


    The musty smell hits the minute you walk into the room. The smell of barely-cleaned floors and piled up paper, exacerbated by the lack of windows or, indeed, any control over air circulation at all. The door screams at me as it slams open: Oil me! Oil me! Oil me! I haven’t got much time to think about it, though, because suddenly the room is filled with bodies and noise and the air feels as though it is sucked out of the room. I am surrounded by children and by voices, each clamoring to be heard over each other. The desperation to be noticed is palpable in the air, as well as the b.o.-masked-by-Axe that always seems to drift in with the influx of students. The crush of kids sucks the air out of the room, making it almost feel like I will never have enough oxygen, enough space. When the adolescent wall backs off and sits down, I notice the dingy walls, paint chipped from the annual poster hanging and removal. The floor should be white, but the buildup of dirt over the years has given it a gray cast which is speckled with bits of food that the kids smuggled in. The piles of papers and books on every surface make it all look disorganized and yet everything has a place, however messy it may look… though the slide of papers onto the floor shows that perhaps another organizing system is needed. Scattered whispers move around the room as the dry-erase marker screes across the board, the tangy-sour scent of the ink permeating my nose. Alas it is not to last, because some young man or woman has been unable or unwilling to hold in their digestive issues and as rotting carcass scent of teenager-produced junk food farts permeates every corner, we all spend the next 15 minutes trying to breathe shallowly through our mouths. The air – and the smell – sits heavy in the room as the herky rattle-click of the clock counts off the seconds…

    1. I loved the image of the adolescent wall backing off and chuckled at the teenager-produced junk food farts (oh the joys of teaching young adults!).

  65. I posted my processes on my blog – starting with the quick write, then the sensory details and then finally the quick write with my added details. I included my final piece here but you can see the rest here: http://teachingtomorrowsleaders.blogspot.com/2012/06/my-special-place.html

    The Dock

    I lay on the dock and close my eyes.
    There are so many things to see –
    where to look first?
    So instead I listen.
    To the birds. To the water tickling the shoreline.
    To the happy laughter.
    The smell of burgers cooking over the bonfire drifts to me, opens my eyes.
    I see above me the green leaves fluttering against the sky like butterfly wings.
    I feel myself relax. The every day is gone –
    replaced by the easy going, peaceful joy.
    The water sparkles before me, soothing me like a lullaby.
    As I watch the sun set slowly in the sky, reflections spread out in the water,
    I sit and connect…to the beauty of nature around me. To the calm of the wild.
    I hear the voice inside me
    or outside me, all around me
    “It just doesn’t get any better than this!”
    And the voice is right.

  66. I thought I posted this earlier. Now I wonder where I did post it. Anyway – here it is.

    The sweet scent of pine fills me with peace and instant love for this land. It’s not from the white pine trees that spring up quickly in overgrown forests, but balsam pines, those aromatic beauties chopped down and sold to families down south as Christmas trees. This lot was full of them – some growing together more closely than was healthy, but each with branches raised in praise as though to say, “Here I am the tree that gives splendor to this forest.”
    I’m not a bold hiker. I’m a lazy walker, someone who looks for the path of least resistance, stopping frequently along the way to rest and marvel, hoping for a glimpse of a woodland creature. I’d stop when I’d hear the rustle of branches in anticipation, but the forest was so thick, that had something been there, it stayed hidden. This wooded path had a gentle slope, but even still I knew I would be huffing and puffing on my return. But for now it was paradise. The day was pristine, with a smattering of cotton-ball clouds in the sky and temperatures that warranted only a tee shirt and jeans. In fact, I could have gotten away with shorts, but ticks lurked in forests such as this, so the jeans were a matter of self-preservation.
    I’m also not a bold hiker because I am absolutely petrified of snakes, and I feared finding one on the overgrown path. Snakes are not what I would call a woodland creature. They are demons. Invaders of my dreams. The devil in his true flesh. My fear of snakes has grown to a phobia, but it isn’t unreasonable. Oh no! There are definitely reasons for this fear, and their names are Raymond, Jeffrey, Gregory and Gary, my four older brothers. As an attempt to rid themselves of their pesky little sister, they tormented me in my young life with every snake they could find, and usually those were here in Vermont when we came up on vacation. I was known by every dog in the county for my screams when a snake was near.
    But I was trying to be bold now, “Don’t look down,” I told myself – keep your eyes ahead.” I walked on, proud of myself for venturing out, and feeling a special connection to this land that I hoped would someday be mine.

    1. I want to go for a walk in those woods… and I’m very glad that there were almost no snakes proximate to my house growing up ,as my brother would’ve done what yours did 😉

  67. Here is my finished product, click the link at the bottom to see the pre-work:

    The Pool – Take 2

    I walk to the plastic chair. The strap of my bag scrapes across my shoulder and down my arm. I open the bag and reach to the bottom for my goggles. As my hand sinks into the fluffy folds of the towel, a hint of Tide or Downy mixed with mildew floats upward. Across the deck a lifeguard whistle shrills down at two boys running toward the water.

    “You can’t catch me!”

    Splash! Splash!

    I step out of the shade and shuffle quickly toward the water to escape the heat of the concrete. As I step down the ladder, the goosebumps rise on my arms and neck.

    “Stttuu!” I gasp as the water laps over my knees and then hips.

    “Oh, oh! as the chill invades my armpits… Wiggle the goggles over my eyes until there is a slight pull… the suction tugs my eyelids.

    Inhale! and under. Silence surrounds me. A glob of hair and mucous floats past the pink starburst on my left big toe. I glide to the right and squint against the glare of the sun.

    The pre-work -> http://mrsvancegoestoschool.blogspot.com/2012/06/day-two-of-teacherswrite-pool-take-1.html

  68. My late-night Tuesday quick write post is linked below:

    Here’s my revised descriptive paragraph (copied and pasted from my blog post):

    Pulling open the heavy wooden door, I lug my bag to the bench, plop down, and dig out my skates. I see that Mary is already on the ice, strapped to the harness with her coach working out the landing on her double axel. I lace up and step onto the black spongy, scuffed, and worn flooring leading out to the rink. The humid, cold-heavy air hits my face as I step through the hockey puck marked boards onto the smooth glass surface. I breathe it in, sweat, mildew, and leather, and curse under my breath at the stupid hockey players as I glide past the frozen yellow-green gobs they spit near their bench.
    Rounding the corner a second time, I can feel my breathing, quick and even as my silver blades cut thin white lines in the shine below. Their sharp edges crackle and sing as I turn, crunching my toe-pick and springing upward. My legs, warm and strong, know exactly what to do. I am flying, spinning, fast and free. I am finally me.

  69. When I have long weeks or just want to get away, the favorite place is my bedroom. My bed, which I call my chocolate abyss due to the chocolate sheets, would have clouds taking reservations on taking a rest here. If my son is out of town, I can lay in my bedroom for HOURS. Of course, I will take a break to get a meal or anything else, but I pretty much stay in the bed. The TV is stationed on front on my taller dresser so I have access to multiple channels. My outlets are close by if I need to charge my cell phone, laptop, netbook, or Chrome book. The world is at my finger tips while I am comfortable in a room that in painted in blue on three walls and accented with chocolate on the back wall. When I am done accessing the world or talking with friends and family, I can roll over and take another nap. Bliss is truly an understatement of the peace I fill in my room.

  70. This was quite the challenge, trying to capture a special place I visited 16 years ago in words. Iceland is words is so difficult. I’m still not there, but here is what I have so far:

    A single brown post crosses another—the sign reads “Stakkholtsgjá” The earth colored ribbon is the worn path surrounded by the rugged terrain. Rocks are blanketed in green moss. The glacier’s gray gravel has been tossed to the ground and flanks the river. Surrounded by the short foliage and the moss blanketed rocks, we travel in single file. The walls of the earth shut in on us, forcing us to the other side of the river. The only sound is the sound of rushing waters and breathing concentration as we cross the river in silence, rock to rock with foot slipping futility as we attempt to stay dry. Again, the walls of the earth shut in on us, and we travel to the other side. The chasm opens to us, a foreboding welcome like Mordor as the greens turn to gray and the walls close in. We climb on the stark rocks as we continue our Viking adventure, one step at a time, traveling through this river hole in the earth. Ending our darkness, a light shines from above, the green mossy rocks return, water rushes forth, and nature’s shower refreshes me. I look up at the light and am sprayed with a cleansing shower. My Nordic roots are revealed, as I realize that I, too, am a Viking.

    My free writes are posted on my blog (http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=6503611035725157101#editor/target=post;postID=1337581523263442271) –I think I need more of something from them in this description, but it’s late and tomorrow ironically I am taking my mom to the airport for her trip back to Iceland to experience her Nordic roots.

  71. Mulberry:

    It never seemed to me that the town where I grew up had street names anyone used. We gave directions that sounded like this: “Turn left where the KMart used to be. Then, you remember that ten car pile-up a few years back? You go about a mile past that, and look for that really spooky looking cemetery, the one with a big sign on it, I can’t remember what it says, and take the next road you come to — not the private one, the regular one. If you get to a cornfield, you went too far.” There were lots of areas whose names I recall hearing often; we said uptown, not downtown, many a party happened “up on the creek” while all the fancy goings-on happened in the country club subdivision. But I only really remember hearing anyone ever talk about one road: Mulberry Road. It was the road where everyone wanted to live, and if you came close, you would say, “I live on such-and-such a street, just off Mulberry.” I never lived on Mulberry, and it would be a stretch to say I lived just off it, either, but I it’s the road I chose to walk, or drive, most often. And in my home town, where the streets were built because the meandering cows had worn their paths there back in the day, you always had about a dozen reasonable choices about how to get from any one point to any other. Going to visit my grandparents, running an errand, or just driving with the radio on because there was so little else to do in my home town, I always chose to take in all the well manicured lawns, hills and turns, and people watching available on Mulberry Road.

  72. First of all, this was an excellent exercise! It really helped break down the process of using sensory details in your writing. I can definitely use this with my students, so thank you for that!

    Secondly, I have read many of the paragraphs by you writers, and I have to say I am impressed, inspired, and intimidated by all. I am just a beginning writer, so please bear with my attempts.

    Here is my final paragraph. I think it still needs tweaking, but it is a start. I also realized in this process how difficult it was for me to be able to describe this place that I love so much. It was hard to meld together the details with the sense of belonging and peace that I have when I get to go back home.

    My Hometown
    I lean onto the railing and gaze out over my little city. The wind ripples through the leaves and my hair, bringing with it a sense of peace and familiarity, and I smile. Somehow there is always wind here, always calming me, like the blanket I could never part with as child. I breathe in and I am filled with the scent of the leaves on the ground, mingled with muddy earth. The trees, brilliant in their fall dress, burst out in between the rooftops of houses. Every now and then a car passes by on the road stretched out underneath me. I hear the click-click of a little black dog’s toes as he scampers to keep up with his owner on the sidewalk below. I wave and grin, thinking of the many times I had taken our little dog on the very same walk. The drone of distant lawn mowers grabs my attention, as people take advantage of the sunny weather. I take one last glance over the river valley in which my sleepy little town sits, deep in the heart of southern Minnesota. Its quiet, subtle beauty always touches my heart. Home…

  73. I love that the quick write is followed by looking at the place, then digging deeper. Great strategy.


    I run through the back porch and out the screen door. It slams and I hear my little brother rushing after me.

    I look both ways and disappear underneath the bush, pushing aside the branch and slowly letting it drop back into place. The trunks, striped in brownish twists like licorice, occasionally peel away in stings that sometimes catch in my hair. I brush away the fuzz, and shake my head, only slightly afraid of a possible spider web.

    The noon sun beats down around this place, my summer play house, but filters gently through my skylights. The shadows dance around, playing tag with the light, fairies sparkling here and there. An occasional buzz, a soft wine, whirrs by my ear. Splat! I squish another mosquito. The gentle breeze fills the space with a soft shhh shhh.

    My roof is now green pointy leaves reaching towards the skies. Light purple lilacs top the branches. Sweet lilacs fold through me, and the earth breathes a clean cool dew all around. I breathe in the perfume and close my eyes. I love this, my own house.

    I step over the first branch and into my kitchen. The tin cake pans and cups await my ingredients.

    I reach over the three thin branches and pull out the big spoon. I step “outside” and into the sunlight. I run with my spoon and cake pan to the sprinkler, now squirting water into the zinnia flower bed. I scoop near the back and fill the pan with dirt, letting the sprinkler soak it as I fill.

    Carrying the pan back, I swat a mosquito, pick three lilac florets, five lilac leaves, and a bunch of grass.

    Back in my kitchen, I stir and arrange. Each leaf and floret must be in the correct place to finish the dessert, a balanced pattern for my cake.

    I carry the finished cake through my kitchen, step over two large branches and onto my kitty quilt spread in the largest opening between branches, my living room.

    Crack. I turn and smile. My friend Darlene has brought her own treat: cupcakes of pebbles topped with petunias.

    We giggle, and call out, “Bill! We have treats for you!”

    1. This brings me back to my own childhood! Me sisters and I always made little concotions like that from flowers, green apples, whatever we could find. We actually invited our elderly neighbor over for a picnic and she always sampled. Good writing puts the reader right in that place-good job!

  74. I wonder
    why we so often write about water
    when we think of our places of solitude –
    perhaps it is the rushing of currents connecting
    to the flow of thoughts,
    or maybe it is because we imagine ourselves as little sticks
    riding high on the tension of the surface of the world,
    knowing that in this moment, at least, we won’t drown in information.
    Instead, we float,
    taking in the green shimmer of spring,
    the tiny paw prints of animals on the banks,
    the music of the raindrops that created this space from high hilltops,
    and away from the world,
    we breathe.

    (I was thinking of a walk near our house that always draws us to the river. — Kevin)

    Here is a podcast of the poem: http://cinch.fm/dogtrax/poetry-podcasts/489478

  75. You guys have all written such vivid paragraphs; you’ve broken my heart and made me long for beautiful places and it’s not even 8am yet! I am still working on mine – not sure if that’s okay, but Kate’s post about “The Fear” really resonated with me, if you know what I mean. I took a Creative Non-Fiction course a couple of years ago, and I spent the whole semester terrified. I’m really grateful for the chance to work through this before I get into the classroom in August; it’s giving me an excellent sense of what I’ll be asking my students to do, and it’s not easy. I don’t think I will be posting mine this week, but maybe next week 🙂

  76. My late homework….

    Up Henson Creek

    My revision

    This place is right out side of Lake City Co, up Henson Creek canyon actually. My place is right off the road that winds its way past the Ute Ulay Mine just past a big hill. My spot over looks the remains of a damn across Henson Creek that used to control water resources for the mine, but now is a concrete reminder of what was. The damn is ragged with broken pieces and rebar remains that create a hole in the damn. Where I go is actually a big, flat rock off the road wide enough to feel safe, yet slanted enough to feel risky. Although the rock looks white…it is granite…if I look close my rock is full of specks, pieces, sparkles, chunks, cracks, and ripples. Look even closer and you will see parts of brave vegetation growing up between the cracks…strong roots breaking up what has been there for ages. To sit there and look down is breathtaking, historical, full of possible stories, and broken dreams as it really represents a piece of Lake City history that is mysterious and intriguing.

    Mostly the sky is the very blue of a Colorado sky, sometimes broken up with “Rocky and Bullwinkle” cartoon clouds, but mostly not…only chunks of blue, chunks of green and expanses of white…the concrete of the damn and the flat of the rock. Swallows dipping and diving for bugs, the longer I stay the more swallows show up…they love the attention as much as they love the bugs. When the background noises separate themselves into recognizable chunks, the loudest, although not distracting, is the rushing of the water. Sometimes lazy, sometimes desperate depending on the time of the year…run off or mid summer…as water competes to get through the hole in the damn. I can hear the squeak of pikas and the fuss of whistle pigs, the occasional vehicle or huffing and puffing bicyclist, although by walking just a bit further I remove my self from all noises man made.

    I loved to ride my bicycle up to this spot. The squish of my handle grips and the rhythmic push/release/push of my feet and legs as I ride up to my spot makes the sweat and the effort worth it. I am grounded in my spot. I can have a picnic, read a book, think, or just spend the day. I feel safe, secluded and on top of that part of the world.

  77. Let’s go to my cabin! My cabin is on the Illinois farm, I inherited from my loving parents. At my cabin I can hear the wind chimes singing softly. Wild birds are talking and even a disgruntlel hawk is voicing his opinion. The sweet smell of clover adds a fragrance so soothing. Come with me to my cabin!

  78. The scribbles on the desk blotter add up to a week of hard work. Wiggles and circles and jigs and jags unconsciously drawn as I stopped to catch my breath. The filing cabinets are haphazardly stacked with books waiting to be appropriated to the proper box. Partially filled cardboard boxes crowd the office floor. The hot smell of melting plastic from the heated laminator breaks my spell. I toss aside the pen as I glance out the wall of windows. The narrow dingy hallway is crowded with the hot, flushed, and sweaty bodies of 6th graders, both girls and boys dragging in from afternoon PE. The air is spiked with dancing hormones as they shuffle, push, and punch their way to the classrooms. Dusty unread books, the warming scent of the carpet as the hot sun peeks in the outside windows making a pool of light on the floor, and the noises of chattering children are fighting in my mind. Combined with the acrid burning odor of scorched day old coffee it hits me hard. That sick to your stomach feeling that it will all soon be gone. The library is being divided, three-fourths of our student body are being reassigned. The faded blue cement block walls will be the home of a new group, the K – 6. We are getting the littlies, the lower grades, the criers, the snifflers, the scared. Hundreds of our books are leaving home and I am retiring.

    1. The images around you are so vivid. They speak to this time of year for all of us. I was struck by the sudden ending to your writing. The stillness and finality of that sentence contrasted well with the movement within the rest of this passage. Are you really retiring? If so, best wishes….

  79. Everyone has their favorite summer spot, right? Mine happens to be Rye Beach, New Hampshire. I know, most people don’t think of the ocean when they think of NH. One is more apt to think about mountains and skiing or the fall foliage. And for good reason…NH only has about 25 miles of coastline. Also, most people couldn’t tolerate the cold water. It’s a milestone if the water temperature gets up to 63 degrees!
    But Rye Beach is my little piece of heaven. Why? There are so many reasons. As you walk the path to the beach and the ocean comes into view, the brilliant sparkle of the water is truly breathtaking. There may be a sailboat or lobster boat in the distance to create a postcard perfect scene. The fragrant overgrown beach plums along the walkway exhilarate as you get ever closer to the sand. Once you reach the end of the path, you view an expanse of beach to your left and to your right that, in total, stretches at least a mile. And you can actually see wide open beach, as Rye is a well-kept secret, hence no crowds. When its low tide the beach doubles in size, as the water recedes several hundred feet. In fact, it is quite a hike from the soft sand, across the slightly pebbly sand, over more and more water packed sand, until you finally reach the water’s.
    Then there’s the ocean water. Always crystal clear, never strewn with seaweed or jellyfish (those cold water temps keep them at bay), no death-defying undertow, gentle, playful waves…its perfection.
    No crowds, no loud music, soft breezes, the warmth of the sun and an expanse of sand. And it’s all mine!

    1. I love your ending and how you’ve included some nice non-fiction info in there. A beach with no crowds? That sounds great!

  80. Seeing humpback whales two hours off the shore of Gloucester, MA was my most memorable moment. I was with a group who chartered a boat for whale watching. It was a perfectly bright, blue day. The sunny, cloudless skies might have felt unbearably like a heat wave if not for the steady gusts of waves whipping around the front of the boat. I could hardly resist the temptation to stand at the bow of the boat with my arms stretched wide having my Titanic moment like Kate Winslet. The breeze beat over and against my clothes like a kite fighting to fly. I could feel the dampening spray of water blowing, splashing gusts over the rails. The rolling, white-tip waves turned over in a steady, rhythmic beat. I leaned over the rail straining to find life beneath the surface but unable to see past the mysterious surface making their world invisible to me. Off in the distance I could see the spray of water shooting up in the air signaling a humpback whale close to the surface. A mother humpback whale and her calf swam right alongside our boat showing off for our group. In a breathtaking, National Geographic moment, the whale breached the surface, jumped up, flipped and then disappeared back into the water. I’m working right now but all I have to do is look back at my pictures and I’m right back on the boat again smelling the salty sea air, feeling the mesmerizing rock of the boat, the warm sun on my back, and smiling faintly with sunburned lips.

    Anne of Green Gables said, “I feel sorry for the people who haven’t been born yet. Sure they’ll have good days, but they’ll never have this one.”

  81. Final paragraph:

    As birds sputter squawks to one another, as leaves sashay in the summer breeze, and as the splashes of water laugh while colliding with everything within their reach, a perpetual feeling clings to me like a death grip: an army of ticks will attack at any moment. Walking beyond the barely visible dirt path, past the randomly strewn rocks and sticks interspersed with patches of wildflowers and weeds, the bright, green oak leaves reach out for the sun as spider webs softly caress my arms and legs. Crushed Pepsi cans and faded bits of cardboard litter the clusters of grass on the bank of the creek, but the twigs are what angrily snap with each step I take. As I slip out of my sandals and into the cold water, the combination of the smooth, wet rocks sliding me every which way and fuzzy moss tickling my toes, makes my attempt at balance even more impossible. Despite the tan, concrete dam overarching the creek in the near distance, but now tainted by red and black graffiti, the surprisingly cold creek still manages to awaken every fiber within me, making me feel more alive now than ever.

    Here’s the post where I have the writing that led to this….


  82. Hills of sticky gum-splattered sidewalk that felt like mountains. Always lagging, dragging, sagging behind. Panting for breath. Heel spurs screaming. Rivulets of sweat drenching my washed out Lalapalooza t-shirt. Made it to the top and it’s like a flashback to the 60s, except that everyone is clutching a cell phone or is IPodded. Snatches of conversation invite eavesdropping as we pass green couples. Victorian or Queen Anne storefronts daubed in popsicle colors. Turrets perched on top of head shops and Ben and Jerry’s. Bright bright sun beating down, thankful for some skimpy awnings to shade my freckles. When they wait for me at the famous intersection there’s a crowd around a slim mocha man with a perfect afro. His retro glasses give him an air of intellect and sure enough he’s pounding out poems on a battered manual typewriter stacked on a flimsy tv tray. Keys tap dancing and the shrill bing as the carriage slams back. Pay him what you want, give him a germ of a concept and he’ll grow instant poetry. I’m shy, but he whips out a funny ironic piece about my childhood and husband. Treasures found at Haight Ashbury.

  83. This classroom is a wreck. Hundreds (thousands?) of books are being boxed and gotten ready for summer storage. Summer storage? The hallway. And now that the books are gone, I see the dust that has settled from August to June. Piles of papers must be filed or tossed; they sit waiting for me and another day. Even the computers stand unplugged and askance as if they, too, are out of here for the summer. Butterflies still dangle from fishing line, memory boxes are safely tucked into their packing box houses for the summer, the desks are tangled, and the floor is scuffed with rubber sole skid marks.
    Kaylee says, every time she finishes one shelf of books, that she is done. As if the other kadrillion books will box themselves or don’t exist! The other Kaylee laughs but keeps working. Every time.
    “PermaBounds in one box; paperbacks in another!”
    “I’m done.”
    “I LOVE this book!”
    “I’m done.”
    “We only have 45 minutes left.”
    “I’m done. You should read this book! No? Then I’m not reading anymore Harry Potter.”
    “Your loss…”
    Musty, dusty, SNEEZE! It’s hot, so on comes the air. It’s freezing, so it goes off again. RRRRRmmmph – like an airplane lifting off. There is no middle; just hot or cold.
    Ding! A text message signals the girls that someone wants their attention.
    Ding! Wrong number.
    Ding! Tell him to bring a friend!
    Ding! What does that mean? I don’t know; ask Mrs. Hamilton.
    And off they go to summer, already perfectly tanned, and it’s only June 6. I shake my head and smile. Off they go to high school. And I’m so sad because off they go.

  84. Revising this paragraph made me realize that I haven’t been working on my craft of writing at all in the last year or so… I’ve been doing notebook and first draft work, but really polishing even such a short piece showed me how rusty I am. Thank you for pushing me to revise. I’m not sure if “Grandma’s chair” leads to questions about the family that are interesting or just makes the whole thing sound dramatic.

    Here is my paragraph, about totally benign childhood Sunday evenings in my dad’s living room:
    It is Sunday night: time for “Touched by an Angel.” It is summer, so the sun is out until well after nine. We slide the striped jewel-toned curtains closed, and it blocks out the green smell freshly mowed yard as well as the light. I set my juice glass down and cringe at the slightest roughness of the sandstone coaster. When my fingertips brush the bottom of my bowl, finding flecks of salt but no popcorn, I cross to my dad, who always gives the refills. Gravel pings against a car driving past, and my brother pulls open a curtain to see who it is: if it’s not Marvin’s truck, it’s likely a stranger. Grandma’s cushioned glider is still in the room, closest to the television, but now it’s empty.

  85. Disneyland:
    It’s the sound of children (and adults) giggling as they venture up shyly to meet their favorite fantasy character. It’s the aroma of sunscreen and buttery fresh world famous Disneyland popcorn. It’s the sensation of losing your stomach on The Matahorn or the cooling spray of water from Splash Mountain. It’s the tears in the mom’s eyes as she sees this wonderful world for the first time through her child’s eyes and the sentimental memories it all creates.

  86. In the far corner of my backyard there is a small manmade pond. The water, stained brown by the tannic acid from pine needles that fall to the surface, laps against the black rubber liner pinned to the ground by sand-colored flagstones . The pond is filled with water hyacinths, their tall, spiky purple blooms towering above rounded lily pads floating on the surface of the water. There are even some fish, several bright orange koi and some smaller brownish- green fish that are a puzzlement to us. How did they come to live in our pond? Small inky tadpoles gather on leaves partially submerged in the water, their presence foreshadowed by the croaking ballads of lust-struck toads and frogs in the hot, humid Texas nights. The peace and serenity of my backyard pond is marred this morning by the sounds of lawn mowers and edgers as a crew of landscapers tends to the pocket park across the street. The smell of freshly cut grass mingles with the earthy aroma of the leaf mulch piled in my vegetable garden. My barefeet , bejeweled with droplets of water left shimmering on my grass after last night’s watering, carry me back to the air-conditioned quiet of my home. Tomorrow, tomorrow will be quiet.

  87. Here’s my attempt to complete this writing prompt. Late but here!

    The Beach
    I see endless sky.
    I see a blue horizon.
    I see white sand, unfettered by human litter or even beach matter.
    I my daughters lying on their towels, desperate to tan their skins, evidence they’ve been at the beach.
    I see my son, coaxed by my husband, as they cavort in the water.
    I see the cover of my book flapping in the soft breeze, marked to the same page I’ve tried to read for the past couple of hours unable to get beyond the first few words as I’m lulled by the sea.

    I hear the waves gently lapping at the shore. No rough surfer waves, here.
    I hear children’s high-pitched voices as they carry endless pails of sand from the shore to their holding places trying to build the tallest sandcastle ever.
    I hear the wind pass through and over my body, soft and refreshing in the hot sun.

    I smell the sunscreen my oldest daughter is daubing on her sister’s back.
    I smell the scorching meat that is being barbecued nearby.

    I feel the hot sun on my skin, turning shades of red and brown, as the day progresses.
    I feel the coolness of the sunscreen my husband slowly spreads across my back.
    I feel the dampness of the sand as I dig with my toes to cool them off.
    I feel the breeze, sometimes sudden and sometimes not, as it brushes through my hair, cooling me off for only that moment.
    I feel the slimy seaweed slithering through my toes as I edge into the water to refresh my body for the umpteenth time.

  88. what I learned from this prompt:
    * Rely much more on the senses as descriptive device.
    * I needed ever bit of the scheduled writing time to get this paragraph into the rough shape it is in now. As I stick with this I can see more time being made for writing.

    Lake Tenkiller

    The water is much higher than in previous summers. Trees are partially submerged and green grass swaying in the breeze abruptly ends in water. The bridge on Skipjack Road is submerged and fish swim where cars can no longer go. Beads of sweat have become rivulets down Cleo’s back as she approaches the lake. Shade is the only option to stay cool and composed but she stomps out into the bright day. Patches of hard dry red earth give way to the soft forgiving bounce of grass and finally the ragged rocks on the shore. Stepping gingerly to dull the poking sensation of sharp shards and shells Cleo scans the horizon. Across the lake trees meet the water in a dense green blanket curving and bending in all directions. A revving motor boat engine pulling an inflatable banana boat loaded with shrieking and cheering children fades into the distance giving way to birds chirping. Cleo continues her walk along the water’s edge as a foul smell takes her breath. A small area ahead reflects the sun as she approaches the source of the odor. Cleo peers down to see a perch, mouth open wide and eyes dull grey.

  89. I posted on my blog at http://havawrites.blogspot.com/
    It took me longer than my planned 30 minutes because I obsess over things and then decide to include that obsession somewhere else in the story, so it doesn’t feel that all that time was productive for this writing. Any way my contribution is “Remembering Under the Tree.”

  90. Looking outside my window, watching the sunlight trying to pop in between the leaves of the tree. The memories begin to filter back into my mind and remember how barren the backyard was when we first moved in. There weren’t any memories then, just grass and dirt.But soon the football and baseball games started, the barbeques, sitting on the back porch and watching the firefiles dance in the twilight. Remembering the “man hunt” games at night, watching fireworks from a nearby park, graduations and celebrations. All the memories begin to filter in between the leaves of the tree, like pages in a book. Snow storms and hail storms, lightening flashes and thunderstorms, rainbows that suddenly appear.

  91. The sunlight streams in through the windows into a vintage apartment dancing off the library books stacked on the ledge. The books wait longingly to be read, a beautiful green plant acting as a bookend as it soaks in the rays of the sun. Beside the widow is a cream circular chair, fluffy and ready for a reader to sink into, propping his or her feet against the white radiator as an afternoon slips away into evening. A tall bookshelf stands tall beside the chair proudly display a private collection of beloved books and a sorting hat rests on top as a gentle reminder of the most loved books.

  92. A sliver of light breaks across the floor as I slowly push open the door. In the summer heat, the sound of the ceiling fan whirrrrrrs in the silence. I flip on the star nightlight by the door, and slide my feet across the soft carpet, not wanting to impale my feet on an errant Lego or Little Pony. Unsuccessful against the toy landmines on the floor, I knock over a Lego mansion, and the rustle of blankets fills the air as both children stir in their sleep. I pause by the bunk bed, looking at two of my beautiful babies sound asleep in their beds, absorbing their peaceful faces. Smooth porcelain skin is softly shadowed in the darkness. Bodies that are usually jumping and running and active lie quiet and still. Their delicate features remind me that, even though they can act so bold and independent in the daylight, they are still my tiny children. As I lean down to straighten her blankets and kiss her goodnight, the smell of my daughter’s watermelon shampoo fills my nose. I brush her long, silky Rapunzel locks from her face as she sleeps. I straighten and stretch to kiss my son’s smooth forehead as he sleeps on the top bunk, arms thrown over his head with his mouth hanging open. The smell of his minty toothpaste makes me smile…he’s so proud to have graduated to “grown-up” toothpaste. As I turn to tiptoe quietly out of the room, I glance around at the toys, trophies, and memories hiding in the shadows of the room. I stop at the door and whisper, “I love you both,” knowing these days won’t last forever.

    Blog post can be found here: http://wp.me/p25OdG-43

  93. Okay, so here goes the first-ever posting of my writing…

    The Atlantic Ocean
    (Myrtle Beach)

    The seagulls cry as the white-capped waves crash rhythmically upon the beach. The invisible, salty mist brushes against your face as you venture into the murky depths of the ocean. The ocean is a tricky place…it can pull you in farther than you’d ever want to go or push you back so hard you have to fight to stay in.

    As your feet find leverage on the sand underneath, the undertow does its job of pulling objects down. It takes great strength to remove your feet from the octopus-like suction cups found below the surface. Meanwhile, the waves do their job of shoving you back to the beach. Like a trapeze artist on the high wire, beach-goers daily balance themselves between this push and pull.

    Once night arrives on the beach-all bets are off! Darkness provides a cover for the powerful waves that continue to hurl themselves against the beach. At night, the ocean seems more ominous and sinister. One step too far in and you may become a permanent resident. The shimmer of a full moon acts as a flashlight on the ocean, encouraging people to come in and explore. Without this light I would never venture too far in…worried that I might succumb to the ocean’s strong pull. Even with the light, I can respect and appreciate the power of the ocean. I know my place and stay there obediently.

    I have mixed feelings about the ocean… the rhythms and treasures found within are amazing and addictive, but the unknowns of a nighttime ocean keep me at a safe distance. Regardless, the ocean is a place that offers good memories for me and allows me to “return” many times, if only in my mind.

  94. Finally ready to write! I’m stumbling through something I’ve been wanting to write for a while… so here’s my (roughroughrough) setting paragraph, that is seems may not be setting-y enough. 🙂

    Gulf Breeze Elementary was more sand than school. It seeped into our halls, permeated the carpet, and mingled with our textbooks. Our playground was a white, sandy expanse of land filled with all the normal recess necessities: swing set, parallel bars, jungle gym, kickball field and a whole lot of forest lining the back perimeter of the playground. For a loner like me, it was easy to get lost just beyond the thick evergreen branches at the edge of our playground. It was easy to create a world that belonged only to me. A world that was safe. From my haven in the trees, I dug in red clay until my hands were stained ochre to the wrist. I etched out pictures and traced words in the sand with sharp, broken twigs. Games of tag danced by, just feet from my hidden sanctuary in the shade. I listened as the words giggled past me, only to be lost in the trees, “Missed me, missed me, now ya gotta kiss me!” And I watched from afar as girls with golden hair and skin hooked one leg around a high chin-up bar and sailed round and round, spinning like pinwheels, their long hair stretched out behind them like streamers. I waited until, mercifully, the shrill bleat of the teacher’s whistle would call us all back in again and I joined the others in the stampeding cloud of dust to head back inside, where my books were still waiting for me.

  95. The light breeze rustled the dry leaves as I made my way to the forbidden pit. As I stood at the top of the pit, I looked down at the dry, yellowing Madrone leaves. I knew I wasn’t allowed to be in the pit, as my parents thought it was a caved in mine. Instead of entering the pit, I stood on my toes as I reached out and grabbed the smooth branch of the Madrone tree. As I swung out over the pit, the breeze blew my hair out behind me, and then it blew my hair forward blocking my view as I swung back to the edge. My feet slid a little in the dry leaves as I regained my footing at the edge of the pit. “My turn,” said my brother as I let go of the tree branch.