“The sunshine coming overhead, the sky lit up like a cigarette.”

We were having a hard time deciding how to spend our anniversary. We had some ideas, some small desires, but nothing stood out in the week leading up to it. We wanted to be outside, or close to it, to forget the stresses of our jobs and life, to make a memory, to be together. There were the usual minor disagreements about the details which conspired to stall the larger decisions. And there was unfortunate pressure we put on ourselves to make it perfect, to meet some vague self-imposed romantic standard.

So Friday came and I professed my love on this site and then met her at home. We went to dinner at a restaurant new to us just a mile away, brought a bottle of Syrah with that we brought back from our honeymoon in California and which turned out to be excellent, ate delicious food — risotto, pork tenderloin, chicken, cheescake — and drank the wine. Afterwards, feeling the warmth of wine and a fine meal, we strolled down the dark leaf-covered sidewalk to the car.

After dinner, we saw “North Country,” a new movie about the groundbreaking sexual harrassment class action lawsuit on the Iron Range of northern Minnesota in the 1980s. It was difficult to watch at times, but very, very good. A rare movie that can show you a dark side of your home, but somehow you leave the theater feeling proud that it’s your home. It’s a totally fictionalized account, and I hope I’m not the only person who saw it and felt compelled to learn more about the reality of the events.

In the morning I woke up early and dropped my car off at the Tires Plus a few blocks away for an oil change and some other maintenance that would take about an hour. I walked home, stopping to get a cup of coffee along the way, enjoying the cool gray morning. I walked down the middle of a quiet street for a short ways to admire the tunnel of red and orange created by the maples.

I thought about writing and thought that as much as I want to write stories, stories about people and the landscape in whch they live, I tend to treat my characters as nothing more than part of the landscape, and often, not a very complex or interesting part. It came to me that I am scared to write truly human characters, or to even try. Before I could figure out why, or how to fix the problem, I was home.

Back in the apartment, with bluegrass on the radio, we packed a week’s worth of stuff for a trip out of town that we weren’t sure would last longer than the afternoon and then we hit the road north.

5 thoughts on ““The sunshine coming overhead, the sky lit up like a cigarette.”

  1. Deb

    That was a wonderful read. Simply wonderful. I was there, or I wish I was.

    What a great way to spend your first anniversary. Back when anniversaries meant something, we used to go up to the Gunflint Trail, in February, and cross country ski for miles and miles.

    Amazing how the leaves are so different once you get north of the cities. Our leaves are pretty much gone, although a scattered clone of aspen, a rare young oak tree, and the tamaracks, still have some color.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this.

  2. Terry

    A great tale, the best part being that it’s all true. I especially liked the incorporation of your photos and the multi-page approach.

    I’m struggling with recounting my recent trip (I went shutter crazy and ended up with 30+ photos that I consider keepers, not to mention what ended up on the cutting room floor) and this post gave me some good ideas.

    I enjoy your descriptions of nature because you write with an honest an unpretentious voice. It’s a quality that I would like to do more to aspire to.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. the dharma bum Post author

    Every time I click “Publish” to post something on here, I just kind of say to myself, “Well, it is what it is.” It’s still a little surprised sometimes when anybody takes the time to say they enjoyed it. Thank you.

    I’m also a little surprised that you guys made it all the way through this one… I’d say 2800 words is pushing it for a blog post. That’s why I went with the multi-page approach, too. Terry, I’m glad it worked for you and hope it gave you some ideas. I have to say that the two posts you did put up about your trip up north were really, really enjoyable too. Sorry I haven’t taken the time to say so on your blog (though I have noted the name of the lake where you camped!).

    Deb… what are you saying? One of these years October 23 will just be another day? I can imagine that’s true. Thanks for sharing your memory of your anniversaries.

  4. Deb

    dharma bum…I really hope it’s never just another day for you two. What I’m saying is, lately it’s been just another day for me. But that’s something for my blog, sometime.

  5. Crystal

    wonderful and eloquent as always. don’t underestimate your voice and how your characters come to life. it’s always a struggle, let me know when you figure out “how” to make complex characters! besides, it’s good to acknowledge that humans aren’t always the most interesting or important part of the story.

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