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Day forty – Warming to the idea

December 13, 2017

A few days ago, in the midst of writing the theatre chronicles, I found myself thinking about a winter twenty years ago when I sat in front of this window and wrote the first draft of the novel that would become Unethical Practices. The small environmental group I was working for at the time had laid me off for four months. (They’d run out of money and would not be able to rehire me until the spring when their big grant came in.) I decided to spend those four months here on the island in the house Mike and I bought the previous year. He spent Monday to Thursday in Vancouver, teaching his courses at the university, then came over for the weekend. That meant I had four uninterrupted days to write.

So, the other day I’m picturing this, as I have done many times in the past few years: Get up in the morning, switch the computer on, make a cappuccino, start writing, stop for breakfast, stop for lunch, stop for dinner and keep writing until Mike rang at 10pm. If I was really on a role I’d go back to writing for another hour. Go to bed, repeat. It was heaven.

What was different then?

Well, as I realised some time ago, the computer was a clunky old desktop with no internet access. Yes, that is a curse these days. But that day a few days ago I realised there was something missing from that picture in my mind’s eye. Those days began with: Get up, start a fire, make a cappuccino, start writing.

When Mike was still here there was always enough wood in the shed to have the fire going all day long. None of this wearing multiple layers of clothing to stave off the cold or turning one ridiculously expensive electric heater on for part of the day to take the freeze off the air.

There was warmth.

For the past few years I’ve known the minimum amount of wood I needed to have in the shed to have a fire in the evenings – and maybe during the day if I could actually see my breath in the house. For the past few winters I’ve never been properly warm during the day.

I’ve known since the end of last summer that I didn’t have that minimum in the shed. I tried to buy a cord from a number of guys who never turned up. (Oh, the joys of island living.) A friend finally hooked me up with the off island bloke from whom she normally gets her wood, although she wasn’t sure he’d still have any in November. Turned out he did. He asked me whether I wanted one cord or two. I told him one. Afterwards I thought about what it would mean to get two cords of wood. Okay, not all of it would fit in the woodshed, so a fair bit would have to be left on the ground under a tarp. But it would mean I could have a fire going all day long. I could be warm. I rang him back and told him to bring two cords, which will (I sincerely hope) be delivered next Monday. And because I’ve recently done a bit of contract work I could actually afford it. (Although, if the second cheque doesn’t turn up this week I’ll have to dip temporarily into the line of credit.)

the view from my desk

Could this be the winter when Murky Waters is written? I don’t want to jinx myself, but, yes, I do believe it could be. Even if it isn’t, at least I’ll be warm during the daytime in the winter for the first time in years.

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