Friday, July 11, 2008

reading, writing, making history

It's Friday morning and it's a clear blue sky kind of day with a Montana wind blowing. The wind always blows in Montana, so they say, and lately it seems to do the same here. And it's not a warm wind! I'm really hankering to jump on the train and go somewhere. I've started packing my bags for Kentucky (well, one bag as I hear they charge you for extras now). Once I did take the train to Kentucky along the historic Lewis and Clark route. I traveled alone and it remains one of my most wonderful memories. I hope there's a train in heaven and the dining car still serves grits!

Lately I've been thinking that the only thing better than reading a great book is writing one. Just don't read James Alexander Thom before you sit down to do it. I've almost finished his epic novel From Sea to Shining Sea and I'm eeking out those last few chapters as I can't bear for the book to end. This must be the hallmark of a good book - not wanting it to end. Maybe it's because after 879 pages you feel married to these people. Thom is actually very difficult for me to read because he is such a brilliant writer. I want to throw up on my own keyboard as his writing is so fine! He actually ruins my experience with other writers because he raises the bar so high no one else ever measures up. Thanks, Jim!

Seriously, I must admit Thom makes me fall in love with his heroes - yep, I'm ashamed to say it but it's true - first, I became terribly infatuated with George Rogers Clark and now my fickle affections have shifted to his younger brother, William, of Lewis and Clark fame. I just know there was some sort of love affair between William and Sacagawea whom he called "Janey" (I find this charming) on their long trek west to the Pacific in the early 1800's. He loved her little son, Pomp, and later adopted him.

Thom doesn't sugarcoat anything - try him yourself - his writing is hauntingly beautiful and poignant, even humorous, yet terribly realistic and brutal. He actually traveled the entire route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition while writing From Sea to Shining Sea. Randy and I would like to do the same, just not with Wyatt and Paul in tow.

Anyway, did you know that after the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which was hailed a huge success, Meriwether Lewis shot and killed himself? This is not what I was taught in school. But it's true. I told Randy this and he had a very practical explanation for it, being the same age as Meriwether Lewis himself when it happened. After making such an amazing trek, would anything in life ever measure up afterwards? Hmmm.

As you can see, history is not history to me - it is here and now, 24/7. And if you're not into history you are probably yawning by now so I promise to write about something lighter and more contemporary tomorrow - like Paul's 9th birthday. I think I'll call it "Menopause and Motherhood!" Happy Friday.

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