June 1st, 2006
home in the woods

I am in the rather hermetic state of finishing a book. and packing. and trying to find a home.
There are days when i feel i would just like to write books forever and ever, it’s like being a kid and finding a great new play spot in the backyard. The ideas flood out like mudpies on a conveyor belt. There are also days when the ideas don’t come at all, and I ride home from the cafe, head down, tired and discouraged. You never know what kind of day it will be when creating. A good nights sleep changes everything. After a rough day I will say, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Writing that made me remember being at the cottage as a kid, my sister and I were explorers who lived in the woods. We had a base camp that had log chairs and a small earth table, and beds made out of pine needle piles. We lived off the land, foraged for food and explored the wilderness by day, taking hikes for several hours, climbing over creeks, scaling hills, making friends with horses in farmer’s fields. I always carried some kind of satchel with a bit of food and survival gear, kleenex, some kind of screwdriver (I’m not sure what for but I knew the great explorers all had “tools”), and a notebook. Eventually we would make our way back home to a lunch of baloney sandwiches and grape Quench.
My heart yearns for this today, (i feel excitement in my belly just remembering it). This must be why I love the woods so much, I still pretend that I live there and search for the most inviting places to sleep under cozy looking trees. Today I will take a break from the work and head to the woods for a few hours. Maybe you will see me napping on the pine needle floor.

Jun 1 2006
12:32 pm
mati writes:

I love this. I remember scenes like this exactly. My sister and I created an entire village out of one big pine tree that we could crawl up into. Is there a common thread with artists to want to return to that state of play and creation of alternate realities? Or maybe it’s not another reality, but just exploring the space that already exists on the outskirts a bit.

Jun 1 2006
12:47 pm
keri Smith writes:

i think there is a common thread. Carl Jung talks about it extensively, he bought a tower in the country where he carved stone statues all over the property (thus recreating bits of his own childhood.) in some ways my whole creative process rests on this premise. I am seeking to find that same excitement, that place where the hours pass like minutes.
Joeseph Campbell also talks about making his work studio look like his childhood bedroom.

Jun 1 2006
12:47 pm
keri Smith writes:

i think there is a common thread. Carl Jung talks about it extensively, he bought a tower in the country where he carved stone statues all over the property (thus recreating bits of his own childhood.) in some ways my whole creative process rests on this premise. I am seeking to find that same excitement, that place where the hours pass like minutes.
Joeseph Campbell also talks about making his work studio look like his childhood bedroom.

Jun 1 2006
1:37 pm
eliane writes:

But I am also glad it is not just that. Using my mature being in making my art is extremely pleasant as well. I do find the same excitement as when I was little, but I am so glad I experience it in independency and freedom. I sure don’t long back for childhood!

Jun 1 2006
3:52 pm
Stefanie writes:

Lately I’ve been pretty nostalgic about my childhood as well, talking to elementary school friends and cooking mom’s dishes. So I know that feeling of excitement in your belly. Thanks for sharing. I would buy any book of yours; I have practically memorized Living Out Loud!! haha :)

Jun 1 2006
4:00 pm
Alex writes:

Have a wonderful day- and WHEN do we get to know what your new book is about??? I hope you will let us know a bit more soon. So very happy for you!

Jun 1 2006
11:44 pm
pixie writes:

this post makes me feel adventuresome inside-i’ll be expeditioning on saturday near a peregrine falcon’s old nesting spot i love and i’m giddy at the thought of packing my outdoor satchel…
i’m serious, you sound to me like one of the great old naturalists with emily’s spunkiness and courage. thank you for this today, my friend.

Jun 2 2006
5:56 am
Leonie writes:

dreamy and scrumptious.

Jun 2 2006
8:56 am
patricia writes:

I know what you mean, Keri, about those wonderful feelings of excitement and joy of creating when I was a kid. Last year I went to a talk at Habourfront by a group of graphic novelists, one of them being the Canadian cartoonist/illustrator Seth. He made an interesting comment about how some people assume that he is only obsessed with the past of say, the 20s, 30s and 40s, because of how he dresses, and the style in which he draws. He said that in a lot of ways he was obsessed with the past, yes, but HIS past, his childhood, when he could draw and create with complete abandon. Seth made the comment that every time he gets to the drawing table now, there is that desire to recreate those elusive feelings. I could not agree with him more.
I won’t dispute that drawing as an adult is very enjoyable, but when I was a kid, I did not have the added stress of deadlines, negotiating payment, paying bills, worry about my reputation as an artist, and often unwelcome criticism of my work.

Jun 2 2006
9:47 am
Kim writes:

ummh nice.
this i share.
walking along queen, people clutter heat,
i find two potted pines and deeply inhale
and all is well.

Jun 2 2006
10:29 am
nadine writes:

Oh, grape Quench! I can smell it now :-)

Jun 2 2006
2:33 pm
Swirly writes:

I was a woods-exploring tomboy myself growing up. Any time my mischevious behavior required punishment, that always meant having to stay indoors.

Jun 2 2006
5:30 pm
mooncici writes:

I am “feeling” you.

Jun 2 2006
7:26 pm
paradise writes:

i’ve always fantasized about having a secret grove in the woods to go to but to tell the truth, i’m not too much of a woods person. i think it’s probably due to watching “the watcher in the woods” when i was really young. that sort of scared me away.
i’ve always been connected to the sea. i grew up next to one and despite moving around a lot as a child, our family was always minutes from a beach. i don’t swim much anymore but whenever i need a pick-me-up or some sort of recentering, i just go to sea. it calms me in the most wonderful way.
good luck with your move back east! upstate ny has the most wonderful forests. we used to go up to the adirondacks all the time. i remember getting overly excited every time i found a cool looking mushroom. my photography professor was not at all pleased when i came back with photos of the forest when we were supposed to be “avant-garde.” :-p

Jun 3 2006
8:49 pm
nancy writes:

We had a woods on our farm where dad used to make maple syrup…my sisters and i invented an entire miniature geography of Canada in the woods – we had our own Niagara Falls (water from a drainage pipe that plunged into a stream), our Rocky Mountains (overgrown piles of dirt from when a ditch was dug). In the spring sometimes the woods would flood in parts, creating little islands around each tree. We were each the ruler of an island, launching fleets of leaf boats with sticks.

Jun 4 2006
10:36 am
Stephanie writes:

Thank you for sharing this – my mind drifted effortlessly to the woods where I used to play as a child. Always surrounded by tall tall pines (in Swedish, interestingly, a tall pine is called “tall”) And even today, I am so much more inspired when I am outside than when I am inside.

Jun 5 2006
10:47 am
Maria loves pictures writes:

Yes I agree with you the woods are an excellent pleace for relaxation. I guess the magic of the wood is related with the calm atmopshere under the trees.

Jun 5 2006
12:12 pm
Tricia Robinson writes:

Love hearing about your adventures in the woods.. they remind me of the books.. “fairy house” and “the country diary of an edwardian lady” . …. Your writing always gives me inspiration and also makes me want to jump on my bike and see the wonders all around! You are truly a naturalist, artist, writer and inspiration!
Thank you for sharing…!

Jun 6 2006
1:41 pm
reroyu writes:

hey keri ! nice ideas you have , you certainly brigthen up my day =D

Jun 6 2006
2:55 pm
sheila writes:

I used to go down to the cool green woods on hot sticky days when I was a kid. I’d spend hours running along all the paths, pretending I was a pioneer, and building ‘forts’ out of fallen branches, etc. My favourite was one that, to get to, you had to cross a couple of farm fields and then go through a wood-lot along some well-worn dirt paths and it was under some kind of crab-apple tree that also had a layer of leafy green vines covering it — which made a natural bubble of space in the middle. I made a floor with dead tree branches, and brought an old blanket, book and snacks. My own secret hide-away! Thanks for bringing this memory back to me, I haven’t thought of it in years.

Jun 7 2006
12:37 am
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Jun 7 2006
9:31 am
Tammy writes:

Know exactly what you mean about writing. Some days when it flows you know this is what you were meant to do.

Jun 9 2006
7:13 pm
Teri Pittman writes:

We’ve bought 2.5 acres in the woods and are moving there this week. The best thing is the quiet.

Jun 12 2006
3:14 pm
Dave writes:

I was looking for information about .jar file format. Your wonderful blog number three in the results – words are so unreliable, hence their wonder and might.
M’sieu Foucault – who also said that to describe something – to give it a nature through description is to do it violence.
Nice entry about the pine piles – I saw you there, transported by more unreliable words.
Lovely blog

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