12 April

Dear Mary Ellen,

I have started this letter so many times, and something always seems to come up to pull me away, but today I’m going to finish it.

I hope Bill and you and the kids are well. I made a New Year’s Resolution to visit you for a good, long weekend this coming year. Of course, that’s barring layoffs or unplanned medical events. It was just about this time last year when I got that crazy diagnosis. I never expected that, and it surely changed all my plans for the rest of the year. But it all worked out well, eh?

I have joined an on-line writing group, and it has been a fantastic experience, seeing what others write about, and how they do it. It’s pretty amazing to hear how many writers are fascinated with witchcraft and vampires, just as we were “in our day.” I don’t remember stories and movies being so bloody and gory, but really, who am I kidding? To this day I shudder when I think of that Grim Reaper picture in that TV show called Chiller, where the scythe blade bled just before someone’s head was sliced off, and my brothers hid in the bedroom and bathroom off the hallway and made swishing sounds just like in the show, and my sister and I ran screaming to our room, sure we were next to lose our heads. Ha, we were pretty scared and the boys were brats.

Anyway, everyone in the writing group has agreed to take on a writing challenge about the elements for Earth Day, 2014. I chose water. It seemed it would be fairly easy, y’know? We need water to live, and all that, but I began researching it and cannot imagine how to narrow it down into one story, even a long one. I first thought to take a scientific, environmental stand. Save the water, and all that, but I haven’t been able to keep interested in that tact.

Then I thought to write a tale from a western pioneer’s viewpoint, reading diaries of women trekking across the plains with their families, following their husbands, leaving prized possessions in piles by the wheel ruts on any of a hundred difficult passes. These stories enthralled me, and I can just imagine, after sixty, eighty days out, finding a small, sweet stream with five or six tall cottonwoods for shade, some dear woman said to her dear, disillusioned husband,
“Stop! I will take not one step more on this ridiculous journey,”
and settled right there and then, eventually attracting other tired travelers who pooled their energies and resources to build a small way station with water troughs for tired horses, and a small trading post for weary, broke dreamers who needed to pay their wagon masters, and only had their grandmother’s long case clock left to barter.

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