As a restless writer, I don’t like to stick to my home office. I like to move around, and see if there’s some other chair, or view, or ambiance, that will get my literary mojo flowing. The same is true for my restless colleagues, who mine the creative potential of the local hair salon and the edge of suburbia.
I like to experiment with new places to write. They don’t always work out. Early last Saturday morning, for instance, I drove out to my favourite spot at the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Hendrie Valley Nature Sanctuary. The well maintained trails and boardwalk draw nature-seekers, amateur photographers and amblers like me.
I settled onto a sturdy bench perfectly situated beneath some leafy trees, and overlooking lush wetlands. A few ducks paddled about and the crickets were singing. Some chickadees peeped charmingly at me from the branches. It all felt very Thoreau-like.
It was wonderful for the first few minutes. My notebook and pen were at the ready. I breathed in the cool, damp air, closed my eyes and grabbed onto a snippet of dialogue that was rambling around in my head. I opened my eyes…just in time to see a beady-eyed grey squirrel creeping along the handrail.
I leapt from the bench with a lady-like squeal and looked around. I was surrounded. Three chickadees were peering hungrily at me from the trees—not so charming any more. A cardinal, normally the shyest of birds, was perched smack-dab in the middle of the boardwalk. Some rustling just off the trail signaled the arrival of one of those cute terrors: a chipmunk.
Turns out this lovely boardwalk that had seemed so promising as a writing spot is also a feeding ground for spoiled rodents and cheeky birds. These little beasties had grown accustomed to being hand-fed by visitors. Without any birdseed to fling in my defence, I was liable to be swarmed.
That squirrel was pretty damned bold. I thought he was going to scramble up my leg. He advanced. I retreated, all the way back to the parking lot. Back in the safety of my car, I realized that I had lost my good pen. I hoped that squirrel choked on it. A gaggle of Canada geese squawked at me as I drove away, probably reminding me to bring food next time.
Sheesh. Nature and I don’t always get along. Next stop on my places-for-restless-writers tour? My local pub. I think I’ll be safe from the outside in there.