It’s a deliciously quiet and peaceful morning. I’ve got my first cup of coffee and can hear Bear rattling around in the kitchen as he whips up his favorite toasted egg bread rolls for our breakfast. The weather has warmed a smidgen this week and it’s lovely to only need a couple layers to keep warm instead of waddling around like a flannel-wrapped pillow. I’m taking a break from my wood-burning marathon to luxuriate in stillness and treat myself to a few moments of writing and reading.
I’ve been living in a black and white world these past few weeks as I delve into archives, old photos, and writings from the 1800’s while I prepare my first draft of the Australian history book I’m writing: “Freestone: A Mostly True History”. I get such a thrill when I find a great story to fill in a blank section of the timeline, pulling together loose strands of memory with hazy recollections to form a cohesive narrative. I especially like leafing through the old photographs, drawn by the occasional cheeky grin that slips through the stern facades old time photographers liked their subjects to assume.
There are sad stories and hilarious ones, tragic characters and those so inspiring I wish I could sit down with them for a long chat to learn everything I can. I’ve been amazed at how human beings do not change. The stories from this small Australian community in the 1800’s could be stories from any town around the globe at any time in history. Only the props are different.
There are loving parents and abusive ones, honorable folks and those who at best could be dubbed rascals. There are clever children and ornery neighbors, racists and humanitarians, hard workers and lazy bums. The community was both united and divided by religion, politics, and race. Some were able to bridge the gaps, others never even tried.
Freestone has had its fair share of scandalous liaisons, tragedies, and family feuds – wherever human beings gather, drama swiftly follows – but as interesting as these stories are, the ones I like best are those that light up of the faces of the people I’ve interviewed. The ones that elicit smiles and chuckles. I love seeing them shake with laughter as they recall the antics of characters so quirky and vivid that their memory lives on decades after they’ve died.
The deadline for my first draft is 3 August, so the next couple of weeks will find me sequestered in my new office that Bear helped me make (thanks, babe!), writing my little heart out.
This is me and my friend Ann on our medieval camping trip last weekend. We always get up before dawn and huddle around the fire Bear builds, brewing strong Earl Grey tea, chatting, and staring quietly into the dancing flames and shimmering sparks. It’s a truly wonderful way to start a day.