No Writing 'til I Paint the Porch

I'VE tried too many times with husbands and friends when they've argued: Quit writing, finish the dishes, pay bills, and what do you know about writing plays? Or they admitted ``literature'' bored them. I've abandoned characters caught in the midst of an act, stranded between verse or chapter. Some are wandering still, waiting out there, frozen to statues, crickets crawling across their legs.

Now you tell me: Shouldn't you put in storm windows, scythe those dry weeds, paint the porch before winter?

Which means: swear off writing again.

Yet this is September. A natural time for limitation....

Ospreys are flying, geese and swans not yet settled down.

Soon only dried milkweed pods will rattle among thickets of stick-tight burrs.

Puffballs burst in the meadows. Frost begins to blacken basil, lawns fade.

Yet tomatoes, green in a tangle of ragweed, will redden indoors. And I'll bait the traps off the dock, though most crabs have scuttled toward deeper channels.

I should seek deeper too.

I cross the soybean field where the harvester stripped even briars which berried my pail last July. Every winter the farmer bushhogs the landscape, until it resembles war-ravaged terrain....

On the beach my sailboat needs bailing.

I still do what I ought, and ought not.

Or at least, write about it.

Though I grow older, I've not yet run out of excuses. I have become more inventive.

Back in the house: half-packets of crackers, tinned tuna, one bottle of the neighbors' homemade strawberry soda.

Not one pad of paper. Only your note by the stove: Fridge Needs To Be Cleaned.

I erase it with care, use the paper to scribble the plot for a novel, then glance out the window.

The lawn is bursting with lavender autumn crocus. And the wind's coming up, a fine day to sail.

I hasten to bail the boat.

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