Monday, September 29, 2014

My Daughter, the Writer

Jesslyn Capen Shields is my daughter, one of them. She is a writer. That's her story and she's sticking to it.

She says it keep her centered to write. She writes a pretty mean sentence. She can punctuate, spell, and do the work it takes to just write an entertaining paragraph or two. She can express what's in her head, heart, and soul in print.

I think I know how she's becoming a writer. Experiences. She spent her young life trying to follow in the footstep of her parents. Those two never stood or sat still, ever. She has them writing genes; her mother is a writer. Her grandmothers were both writers. She came by storytelling naturally. There was hardly a night went by Jessie and Allison didn't get a Mr. Puffles and Horatio Hog story, or Brer Rabbit  story.

Her mother and I could be categorized as living an alternative lifestyle in our days. We did what we felt like needed doing. We exercised the  freedom of choice, or the choice of freedom, as most young people our age were doing in the 60's and 70's. Those were freshening times.We opted out of DC for a rural lifestyle.

Jessie grew up in the Green Rolling Hills of WV, (Utah Phillips) Golden Rolling Hills of California.( Mary Mc Caslin) and the Red Clay Hills of Georgia (no song there, yet) I feel those experiences prepped Jessie for what was to come.

She chose to go for an alternative education opportunity at Prescott College to learn about the world : Kayaking the Yellowstone River in winter, getting caught in quicksand a couple time in one day, in the Grand Canyon and calling me on my birthday from Barrow Point Alaska, to name a few.

What makes a writer?  I don't know...I'm only a hacker, but I enjoy it. Ask Jessie when you meet her, she'll have some definite input in that discussion.

I think we're all storytellers,whether we write it or not...everyone of us humans has a story to tell . I think Jessie  has the knack for giving a story "heft". Here's a post from Jessie's Blog The Cloudless Sulphur. Nothing serious, just fun.


Camping


When I was little, we went car camping sometimes. I’m not sure what prompted my parents to take us–because lord knows 10305169_10154593039925237_1374073951239422141_nthey had enough to do–but we were taken, and I’m grateful. We got to eat sugar cereal from those wax paper-lined boxes that your were supposed to be able to saw open, pour milk into, and eat out of. There’s a story of the time my sister almost walked off a cliff in King’s Canyon.  One time my dad taught me how to burn ants with a magnifying glass in the sun.  Another time, my mom took us to a place in the north Georgia mountains that had just been bush hogged, and we woke up in the night to find the ground covered in green, luminescent foxfire.  We rolled and played in it, and then woke up filthy dirty.
I’m not sure what it is about car camping, but I love it.  I wish I was camping pretty much all the time–though, to be honest, I hate some parts of it: the packing and the yelling at people to get a move-on, and the waiting in the car, and the realizing we forgot something: a lighter, milk, an extra pair of shoes for Odessa, all the sleeping pads.  I hate driving hours out of town, up nauseating stretches of mountain road.  I hate getting lost on endless gravel tracks in the dark.
But once we’re there, I’m great.  I’m better than great. This weekend, Bryan, Odessa, Goose and I met some friends who greeted us in the dark with quesadillas–we were all giddy that we found each other without the help of cell phones.  We put the kids to bed in the tent next to a gurgling creek, and the grown ups sat in a semicircle in collapsible chairs around a sawn-off steel barrel with a fire inside it, doing hilarious impressions of other people’s kids–not in a mean way.
All that’s good. And then there’s waking up and sitting around with a cup of coffee, roundly ignoring the children who are yelling at each other about how there can’t be more than one queen of the forest, while the tent they’re tussling around in sways back and forth like a huge elephant puppet. Eventually there is a hike, and taking kids to the vault toilets that are littered with disintegrating urinal cakes, and a then the dog barfs because he got car sick on the way to the trailhead, and on the way back to camp, two married people get in a sort of mesmerizing circular discussion about whether there are enough beers in the cooler for everyone to have two tonight, and back at camp, we teach kids for the fifth and sixth time what poison ivy looks like (“leaves three and shiny? Not for your hiney.”)
My favorite part, though, is sleeping.  I love sleeping in a tent, smelling like woodsmoke and whatever it is that makes tents smell the way they do.  I love waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of a creek, or little frogs whining, and my family’s quiet snoring.  I like to get out of the tent then and feel the soft ground under my bare feet and look up into the crowns of the trees while I pee. Last night I saw a shooting star. You figure stuff out on those nights.
I can't wait to go camping again.

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