People Fall in Love Even in Seasons of Uncertainty

Our experiences this season are varied. How we respond or react is dependent on variables ranging from personal temperament, to spiritual foundations, to physical settings, just like the characters in a work of fiction. I'm grateful to live in our remote rural setting where a quarter mile north of us the expanse of the Salish Sea offers a buffer of sorts, and miles of forests and the Puget Sound separate us from Seattle.

That word, uncertainty, is often employed now, almost as often as the name for our fears, #Covid19. But I've been ruminating about the word without the prefix - un. What are we losing sight of as we focus on the negative side of the word - certainty. Along with the certainty many of us may have denied, death is a part of the human experience, but there are other more pleasant certainties to contemplate.



I'm grateful for the evidence I see of spring's return. Migratory birds are flocking to our feeders and the males have donned bright feathers, attempting to attract their lady love. #Newlife is springing up all around us.



What I'm Writing

One of my writing current projects is entitled The Wisdom of Songbirds. I started it a year ago, wanting to tackle a difficult topic of conflict, when to engage and when to step away. The story is set in 1939, following the events that bring England to declare war on Germany. One primary theme is our need to view the challenging events in our lives as seasons. Like the ebb and flow of tides, they change with time.


Those characters in the story will deal with the turmoil of uncertainties. Questions will need to be answered. Should one enlist when the threat posed is half-a-world away? Should one think only of providing for one's own family and let one's neighbor fend for himself? Do the same moral laws that applied before the crisis, apply now? Should two people marry when the world stands on the brink of war?


This novel was plotted a year ago. I find it interesting that the themes are so relevant now. Life will continue to lead us into fearful valleys and upward to euphoric mountain-top experiences. If we can discipline ourselves to respond in those difficult times and not give into panic, we may find the wisdom and even surprising blessings in the waiting for the season to pass. We are all waiting now.

New Release

It's a difficult time to release a book. But the date was set in January, and here we are April 8th, release day for A Portrait of Dawn. At its heart is the repeated message of new beginnings, possibilities, and courage to meet the challenges of an uncertain future. It's the fifth book in the Sawtooth Range where you'll find Lena and Evan waiting to greet you at their newly opened guest ranch just north of #KetchumIdaho, 1890. If you're wondering, I wrote the summary below, in January, not March.



"The greatest thing a human being ever does in this world is to see something . . . to see clearly is poetry, prophecy, a religion all in one." - John Ruskin


Dawn's future looms before her like a blank canvas, and only through the artist's eyes will she see her true self and find the courage to paint the first stroke.It’s 1890 and Idaho Territory is celebrating statehood. The event will draw two individuals who, like the new state, must redefine and prove themselves. While the artist, Luke Brennan, is captivated by Dawn Fairburn’s bewitching, jade-green eyes and brilliant mind, the world characterizes her as less than an acceptable model of womanly perfection. Both are lacking in society’s estimation, he for his Irish heritage and she for her deformed leg, but together they may prove them all wrong. Like the new state, their combined strengths will give them the courage to step into the wilderness of their uncertain future.


Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Books and Kobo.

Excerpt from A Portrait of Dawn


June 24, 1890

For a future yet to be written, an unbridled imagination is a dangerous thing. Although Dawn held to such philosophical convictions, as she turned to her slumbering father sitting beside her, she allowed herself to travel that treacherous path leading her thoughts to notions of what might be.


Even in sleep, with his chin nodding gently against his chest in easy rhythm to the rocking motion of the train, he looked dignified and even . . . presidential. Dawn smiled to herself, pleased by the notion. She considered her father’s pleasing features, his strong, square jaw, the touches of gray giving him that suggestion of experience and wisdom that could build confidence in his constituents. She pressed her lips together and lifted one eyebrow a slight degree higher than the other. Why not? Her skin prickled at the image. If he could go from legal counsel to the next U.S. Senator for New York, why not President? And she would be the one to help put him there.


Dawn shifted in her seat, frowning. Mr. Pullman’s train cars were a definite improvement from those wooden seats of early years when she and her father traveled from New York to Washington. But comfortable, they were not. She envied his ability to fall asleep so effortlessly—the benefits of a man with a clean conscience.


She reached down to retrieve her father’s brochure from the floor, the one he’d read to her with such enthusiasm moments before he’d fallen asleep. Now, with the campaign before him, why did he insist on this trip into Idaho Territory? They needed to be planning, not traipsing off to the frontier for . . . Reading the advertisement again, she felt a scowl pinch her brow.

Come to the Hartmann Ranch where you can experience the frontier ranching life.


As the train rounded a bend, the view from her window shifted to the east, the direction from which they’d been traveling since yesterday morning. Streaks of palest yellow heralded the break of day. It should have cheered her as it usually did, but unlike her usual day of ordered routine, this one held too many uncertainties. She looked down at the twisted brochure still gripped in her hands. The word adventure peeked between her fingers. It wasn’t a word that often appeared in her vocabulary. Adventure conjured up images of safari hunters in wild, foreign lands.


Dawn lowered her head to her father’s shoulder, breathing in the familiar scent of his pipe tobacco and starched collar. How could she ever remain impatient with him? With a skill she’d honed since earliest childhood, she focused her thoughts on this moment. In this moment, she was blissfully content. Tomorrow was yet to be. With luck, she would see the adventures only from the windows of a rolling train.


From the train window, the indistinct reflection appraised the serious young woman with green eyes. Dawn had been told often enough they were the same shade that made her mother so attractive. But unlike her mother, Dawn lacked the golden locks. Her brown hair favored her father’s, as did the firm line of her jaw. And like her father, her thoughts rarely strayed from her duty to support and serve.

***

Luke Brennan sat as rigid as the straight-backed chair, prepared for the worst, as his employer squinted at him through a dense cloud of cigar smoke.


The barrel-chested man behind the desk pursed his lips as he studied Luke’s most recent drawing. “It isn’t the quality of your illustrations, Luke.”


Luke tried to interpret the editor’s tight, expression, uncertain whether the man was commiserating or experiencing another bout of chronic indigestion. He suspected the latter. Empathy was not among Mr. Carrington’s virtues.


The older man leaned back and shoved the cigar between his lips, taking one long draw and puffing another fetid cloud in Luke’s direction. “It’s business, purely business. The St. Louis-Dispatch is foremost designed to make money for our publisher, Mr. Pulitzer.” He waved his hand, and the cigar sent a thin smoky trail, spiraling to the ceiling. Luke imagined how he’d capture smoke with his pen. Of course, he’d need to consider the limitations of the engravers.


Luke followed the ribbon of smoke curling back upon itself and watched it transform in width as it drifted to the ceiling.


“Luke, are you listening to me?” The editor leaned forward, resting his arms on the edge of his desk, a scowl lining his brow.


Luke cleared his throat and brought his gaze back to the man.


Apparently satisfied, the editor continued, “It’s a problem of speed. You submit half as many illustrations as everyone else on my staff.” His lip lifted into a sardonic smile. “Personally, I like your work. You have an eye for humor, like the drawing you made of the governor last month—the one where the woman’s hat is covering his lip.” He demonstrated with his cigar, posing with it close to his upper lip. “Looked like he was we