Since Zebra Forest came out, with its wonderful cover by Matt Roeser (check out some of his designs at http://www.mattroeser.com/) I’ve been lucky to be showered with zebra-themed gifts. Until now, I never knew how popular the zebra design was in the world, but I’ve been slowly enlightened, with the lovely zebra bag my friend gave me, zebra tissues (pocket-packs too!), and even a delicate blown-glass zebra given to me by another friend. And that’s not even counting the beautiful Zebra Forest sculpture created by my artist friend Stan Lebovic (whose work you can see at http://blackisacolor.com/Intro.html). So, since I’ve been on semi-hiatus due to the wonderful wedding last week of my beloved son, the Rocket Scientist, to his darling Buttercup, today I share some of my favorite zebra images. Enjoy!
I’ve heard it said that with the invention of writing history began, and that’s always struck me as having some truth to it. Yes, history existed long before the first person chiseled an alphabet into a stone, but it rushed by like water, without any way of making it permanent. And I guess I favor that idea too because it’s a part of why I write, my attempt to grab a handful of now before it falls over the ledge and becomes yesterday.
Stories, in general, written or told, are that holding on. My favorite passage in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods says this perfectly:
But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to the sound of Pa’s fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the fire-light gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.
She thought to herself, “This is now.”
She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.
Now is now. And yet, of course, soon it isn’t. Soon it’s yesterday and last month and last year. Soon it’s a long time ago.
So we write, to keep now now.
Yesterday I had the immense privilege of seeing a baby born to my youngest sister. Of course I’ve had babies myself, but this was different, since I was otherwise occupied (to say the least), when bringing my own babies into the world, and so didn’t get to observe the process in the same way. Since it wasn’t me doing all the hard work this time, I got to see the reality of a child emerging into life. That plus the fact that I have a child getting married in two weeks gave me a different kind of perspective on this immense miracle. I’ve lived through several kids’ childhoods now, and I know that sometimes living the day by day feels long, but the years do fly. Being in the delivery room brought back the day my own twins were born, and suddenly the years between then and now collapsed. This cycle really is an eternal one, and being there at that moment of birth made me feel I was touching that bigger part of life that exists beyond minutes and hours and days. Having it in the midst of such a momentous summer only magnified it. Life often feels routine, but it’s really full of intense moments, beauty, drama, pain, effort, and wonder. I knew it, of course. No one who writes stories every day doesn’t. But yesterday I remembered it in the most vivid way imaginable. The stories that live out there in the world are incredible ones.
Writing a book is such a quiet thing. It’s just you and the words, the sound of it in your head. But having published one turns out not to be quiet at all. Recently I’ve gotten some wonderful pieces of news. Zebra Forest was put on a list of books for consideration as “notable” by the American Library Association’s ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children); Amazon listed it as one of the best of the year so far, and today, I’m featured in Publishers Weekly’s “flying starts” feature, about debut authors. So the summer is turning out to be more than a little exciting, book-wise, and my main feeling is that I’m so grateful. Maybe when you’re young, and this rush of wonderful comes at you, you take it for granted. Probably not, if you’re any kind of thoughtful. But when you’ve been harboring the secret dream of writing for decades, this kind of thing comes with such a layer of surprise, awe, and sheer thankfulness that I don’t think it can be matched. I’m used to looking at the world in terms of stories – watching things unfold and connecting them from the past to the present. So I appreciate this story as it unfolds maybe even a little more than average. And I’m so grateful that it’s full of all this fabulous noise.