Saturday, December 10, 2011

What the Blazes? Reflections on my TAG, part 3

After two hours of climbing through burned-out longleaf pine uplands, I was covered in burrs and sandspurs, had consumed half of my water, and was no longer appreciating the lesson in path-finding. So I decided to take a mental break. Translation: I worked on my latest novel, the sequel to Brothers.

Last summer, I hit a snag in the plot about the same time school started; the only writing I've done on the book since August is the "frame story" (prologue, interludes, and epilogue), which you can find published elsewhere in this blog under the title "Temptation." But the novel's main plot line stalled out completely while Yisu was dragging one of his brothers across Samaria,
and I'd been unsuccessful in my attempts to get it up and running again. This uphill trek through the wasteland put me in mind of that scene, so I began talking through Yisu and Yudi's possible dialog. (This, by the way, is how I create MOST of my dialog. I go to the beach, or to the woods, or anywhere there are no other people in earshot, and I TALK.) You may find this absurd, but when a character who is more physically fit than I am is the one doing the hiking, I find my pace picking up and my load getting lighter. Yisu is about 25 in this novel, so I walked the next few miles of the Paisley Trail with the energy of a strong young man.

I came to the connector about then and realized I was almost halfway through the hike. My water bottle contained only four or five ounces despite careful rationing. Fortunately, the trail bent around to the south and plunged back into partially-shaded oak woods (where I lost the path three times) and stayed there for a full mile before emerging back into the pine uplands.

Someone had replaced the burned blazes on this part of the trail, so the going was clear. But the sun was hot and the path was soft sand, and mixed in among the fire ant mounds and deer tracks were some very large and carnivorous-looking paw prints. I racked my brain, trying to identify the tracks. This is not one of my nature skills, but I gave it my best guess. They hadn't been left by a bobcat—they were double the size of the largest bobcat prints I'd ever seen—but they didn't look exactly like the bear tracks I'd seen in the Enchanted Forest Discovery Center, either. Then again . . .

"God," I prayed, "I really really don't want to see a bear out here." I recalled a story Beth Moore had shared in one of her videos, about a time she was hiking (alone) and asked God for a special blessing; then she crossed a ridge and there were two bear cubs playing on the path just a few yards in front of her. She felt so blessed! "Father, please do not bless me with bear cubs," I said. Not wishing to seem ungrateful, I amended my prayer. "Okay, if you want to bless me with bears, you can, but please let them be at a distance and running away from me."

I hefted the walking stick that a former student had made for me (which weighs all of two pounds) and marched on. Bears don't like to be surprised, I thought, so I decided that singing might not be a bad idea. Let all of the carnivores in the area know that I was there! Taking a page from The Voice, I began singing prayers—loudly and in Hebrew—as I kept my eyes peeled for any sign of the creatures that were leaving the big paw prints on the trail I was following. Psalm 121 is great in situations like this one, by the way. I can fumble my way through it in English, but only if I mentally translate it out of the Hebrew first, because that's the language in which I actually memorized the psalm. It doesn't promise protection from bears—only from slipping feet, sunstroke, and lunacy—but I figured it would do the trick. Let the fact that I am writing this blog set your mind at ease . . . I was not mauled by a bear . . . but I did run into a large carnivore about an hour later . . .

To be continued . . . . .

1 comment:

  1. What? You can't do that to me! :) I hope this continues soon!