Sometimes when I’m doing author visits and people hear that I’m from Kansas, they say, “Isn’t Kansas cold?” Well, we moved down the Great Plains to balmy Kansas. So it was hard…especially after I spent a chunk of winter in Indonesia…to have March go roaring out like the proverbial lion. This was the pathetic view of the back yard where I took pictures of monarch butterflies when I was working on the Lanie stories.
On the other hand, the snow was good preparation for my trip to Minneapolis coming right up, including (as I wrote in my last blog) bringing back memories of this time of year during the year we were smacked by the Red River flood. Getting ready for the Kerlan ceremony is making me think about what it’s like to have a team.
I went through the early part of my life as part of a giggling, singing, camping, hiking, reading, story-telling team. One of my sisters settled in Minneapolis and raised her own giggling, singing, camping, hiking, reading, story-telling team of kids there. They made every Kurtz family reunion an adventure of cold rushing water and pancake making and hiking and singing songs around the campfire.
March was the month my granddaughter also came roaring into the world like a lion, six years ago, so we decided it was time to pay that part of our team a visit. Long ago, my daughter’s class was my very first chance to experience what it’s like to do an author visit with kindergarten students. “Wow,” her teacher said. “That was great.” I wobbled away thinking, That was great? To me, they were like bits of popcorn popping. But I learned, over the years, that it’s worse to try to do an author visit for a school where one’s kids are, say, in junior high. So I was pretty thrilled last week to get to be a visiting author in my granddaughter’s school while she was still in kindergarten–in a school that loves and celebrates reading and writing. Thrilldom!
Sometimes you need someone to sing in harmony with you.
Sometimes you need someone to help you build castles and moats and a lake and a canal to connect it all right up.
Sometimes you need someone to bear witness to what your childhood was like…the good, the bad, and the ugly. Where we’re from can help us make the changes for the journey toward where we’re going.
We teased our granddaughter that she and her fellow soccer players might need to call their team The Handstanders. Our daughter went through some years when she spent a lot of her outside time whirling in cartwheels. Upside down or downside up, outside is precious. And the team is precious.
Those who write fiction spend hours and days mucking around in silence, bouncing around with their thoughts, sometimes thoughts that are scary and sad. Artists shake the world and have their worlds shaken sometimes on a daily basis. We have to grab every possible chance to feel a sense of success, a sense of comfort, a sense of joy.
Minneapolis has meant a lot to me over the years. I ate Thanksgiving dinners there with my sister’s generous family. They’ve come to pick me up at the airport when I was stranded and fed me and tucked me to bed. I’ve spoken in schools and at conferences in Minneapolis. Readers and writers and adoptive parents there have also been a big part of the Ethiopia Reads outreach to get books to the kids of Ethiopia. Next weekend, several of my writer friends are making the trek to celebrate with me. I can’t wait to share the city.