Sunday, July 11, 2010

Letters for a Rainy Day

This morning I was traveling in Iowa with my son T and thought I'd take him to the Macbride Raptor Project before we headed home. I used to visit the owls (my favorite animal) frequently when I lived in Iowa; seeing their majesty always gives me a sense of great peace and serenity.

The Raptor Project is nestled in the University of Iowa Macbride Nature Recreation Area, with the rehabilitated and permanently disabled raptors in spacious outdoor cages you can walk past on a dirt path. As luck would have it, no sooner had I pulled into the parking lot than the heavens opened up. No way I was going to be pushing T in his stroller in the pouring rain.

As I drove back toward the highway, I passed scenic picnic areas overlooking Lake Macbride. When I heard T sigh heavily--a sure sign that he had settled in for a long nap in his car seat--I knew I needed to seize the opportunity for some quiet, beautifully situated, writing time.

I pulled into a picnic area and sat in the front seat of my car, writing letters as rain pelted the windshield. I wrote to my coworker J, thanking her for being a sounding board and also inspiring me to get more involved in my community, get out more socially and just generally have a life outside the office (being somewhat of a homebody may support motherhood and my letter-writing habit but, honestly, I do need the dust blown off me once in a while).

I also wrote to M, one of my childhood best friends, letting her know how much--even though we rarely correspond anymore--I still cherish the memories of Barbies, trips to the beach and dance routines performed in the livingroom for our (incredibly patient and kind) relatives. Writing to M, I was struck with some of the same thoughts I'd had when I wrote to S, the mother of another childhood friend. I noted to M and S that the happy memories recalled as I wrote letters to them are helping me realize how much I want T to have a small town life--a community where neighbors know each other and kids still ride their bikes and play kickball after dinner. It took motherhood, I guess, to make me nostalgic for the kind of upbringing I had, and now I want T to be able to run with a pack of good buddies and make the kind of memories I made with M, S's daughter J and my other friends.

I looked at the clock. 90 minutes had passed like nothing at all. And even though I didn't get to see Duke--my favorite great-horned owl whose disability has made him a longtime resident of the Raptor Project--I still felt extraordinarily peaceful, and serene, as I made my way back to the highway and headed home.

MORE WEATHER-INSPIRED WRITING: This morning as I wrote I thought of Jackie at the Letters and Journals blog, who wrote recently about her own stormy letters. I eagerly await receiving my first issue of the Letters and Journals magazine, which Jackie plans to launch late this year or in early 2011.


Jackie Flaherty said...

I really enjoyed this blog post! Thanks for sharing. Back in the days when I traveled, I used to go to Iowa A LOT. I kind of miss it. But your post brought back some memories. Thank you!


PS- thanks for the mention also!

Passion said...

This was a wonderful post.
Really just a perfect time to write a letter.
You're an excellent writer as well.
Thanks for writing your amazing blog, I really enjoy reading it.

Lynn, the letterwriter said...

Thank you both.

Sitting and writing in the nature center, watching the water and listening to the rain, really was a completely relaxing experience. It's nice to know there are people who can relate.


P.S. Jackie--I used to live in Iowa. That nature center is truly a gem.