Have you ever felt like you want to write something creative but nothing flows? That’s how I felt for the last few weeks. Stories that usually flowed easily couldn’t even break the surface of my thoughts.
My mind had become too crowded. It was full of the usual detritus that flows in daily. Concerns at work, distractions on the radio, and the usual politics both near and far. I had let myself get over focused on some things, and crowded by others. It was no wonder why I couldn’t get a decent creative thought to appear. The ground was too compact. I needed a break.
Luckily the rain helped.
I have one of those jobs that lets you leave when it rains. It’s usually not good for the pocket book, but I do have time to cover it. So off I went.
My goal was simple: Go to different places and let the stimuli stir things up in my imagination. I went to three different places.
First was to a local park. I promised the dog a walk and she really wanted out of the house. We drove across town in the mix of soft mist and drizzle, but when we arrived at our destination the sky decided to open up with real rain.
Sadie saw the rain and still wanted out of the truck. Amazing given the fact that I have to literally push her out the dog door and into her run when it’s raining at home. We walked about 100 yards before turning back. The rain just grew heavier with each step until I had had enough. I also had to keep pulling Sadie away from the ponds. They’re a little more dangerous than ones up north. They might just have a gator or two in them. These were large enough to house an eight footer easy and I did not want Sadie to become a before lunch snack. She didn’t seem to understand, though and was not happy as I kept redirecting her moves.
As we left the park, I turned down one of the side roads just for fun. The side roads were not the usual suburban scene. Abandoned and forgotten from the big but local housing bust of the early sixties, they sit quietly while nature slowly closes in on them. They make for a great post apocalypse scene, so I took a picture. (Or maybe it’s an ancient road leading to hidden treasure, Indiana Jones style.)
After taking Sadie home and drying her off, I headed out again. This time to the fishing pier in El Jobean. There were few cars parked there, but I did see two mothers grabbing their gear while trying to corral their children before heading towards the pier.
Being a lone man in drizzly weather without a fishing pole, I decided to give them some room and snag a few pictures before going down the pier myself. I walked down the road to the wonderful opening showing me the mouth of the river. Great shot there. On the other side of the street I noticed a long metal roof peeking out above the trees. I moved around, hoping to see something of the building itself, but the trees were too thick. Clearly this place had been deserted for quite a while. But I wanted to see the architecture and wasn’t about to give up just yet. I knew that the front area was mowed and that I should be able to see something of it. And something of it I did see. Framed between two trees stood the face of the building. Aged and dilapidated; weathered and grey, this place was foreboding. Someone had replaced the front door at some time and stuck a “No Trespassing” sign in the window.
Somehow, I don’t see it discouraging curious teenagers looking for a secret place to party. Opening scene for a horror story?
With that done, I turned down the pier and got my nature on. There were so many different things to notice. Yes, I’ve seen the Bengal clock vine before but the flowers looked so vibrant against the faded green leaves and steely sky. There was such depth to them. It seemed as if the rain was washing their color out. I had to take a picture.
A man walked by, fishing pole in hand. I asked how the fishing was and he grimaced.
“Too cold and too windy for fishing today.” He replied while briskly walking past.
He must’ve thought me a “Snowbird” with my short sleeve shirt and shorts. Feeling the wind against my skin, I closed my eyes and listened to the crash of the waves against the pilings. After a few, I opened them again and sapped off a few shots.
It was after the last one that I realized how easy it is to fool the audience into seeing whatever I wanted them to see. I could’ve talked about the weather and how it reminded me of the seaman Joshua Sloccum as he stood on the pier in Massachusetts, or describe the dancing of sea birds at they are buffeted by the wind. I could paint this lovely picture of sea wind and air never letting you know that a large bridge and the highway lay only eight feet to my left and that traffic was rushing past in all its droning.
Ah the magic of writing.
Leaving my tire trails in the wet gravel, I headed west. There was still one place to go.
Being that I was only at this place once, I was really winging it. I do remember taking a turn down one road, so I took it again, but seven miles later I couldn’t find the marker for it. I found something else though, so I hit that instead.
It was a nature preserve.
Never seeing before, I had to check it out. The rain and mist made reading the map impossible, but I got the general idea. The rain didn’t stop me from reading one sign and I laughed at its unintentional sarcasm.
It stated that the park/preserve was open to everyone, but the cattle chute opening was so tight there no way anyone in a wheel chair could get through. Somebody’s gotta widen that opening.
Inside the trail was as narrow as the opening. I wondered who had been there recently to tamp the trail down. Was it hikers or a maintenance crew? The trail was marked with brightly painted poles with badges pointing the way to go. I kept an eye out for any game trails. Wild hogs are known throughout the area and are very territorial. I didn’t find any and think they were being smarter than me and were actually sheltering themselves against the weather. I didn’t see any snakes either. Diamond backs, racers, or even moccasins. None of them were around. Again the sounds of the highway would sometime intrude on my silent solitude, but I was able to reflect on the scene before me.
This was part of the ninety mile prairie where cattlemen drove their herds to market or rustlers to other ranches. The palmettos would scratch at their long boots or chaps and pines would scent the air. With not much shade to be found and the debilitating combination of heat and humidity of summer, days like these must’ve been a godsend to them.
Capturing the moment on pixels, I headed back to the truck. I had accomplished what I was hoping to. I cleared my head of the crowding thoughts, and filled my soul with wondrous surroundings.
I also came home with a bonus I did not expect.
A nice cold.