I have spent the past week at a magical house in the Belgrade Lakes region of Maine. Magical for many reasons, not the least of which is the setting. A picture is worth a thousand words.
In Florida the sun sets the scene. Here the scene is all rain and gray clouds with a few sunny interludes. The perfect setting for a writer. Something mysterious is happening for me on this summer’s magical mystery tour. It’s good. All good.
When I’m not writing, I work with my husband. Blanchette and Wife. Will paint for lodging. Well not entirely. My husband is getting paid for his work. His friends and customers missed his attention to detail when we moved to Florida so when they heard we wanted to escape the Florida summer the work requests started pouring in. I came along for the ride. He dropped me off in New York for a ten day writer’s conference and then I spent another ten days in Rhode Island, helping my Dad with my mother and visiting friends and family. Now we’re reunited and I am earning my keep.
While in Maine, we are painting the tap room floor at the magical house on the lake using epoxy, a sticky glue-like product that seals the concrete floor. I cut in the baseboard then my husband uses the roller. When we’re finished he shakes handfuls of blue, black and white speckles on the gray floor. “This is the fun part,” he tells me. He invents a better technique by putting the speckles on a wide putty knife and calls his invention the controlled shake, moving his wrist as if shaking a tambourine. “How do we work our way out of the room?” I ask. “Don’t worry,” he tells me. “I have an exit strategy.” Imagine that.
Over the past two weeks I have watched my husband crawl under wire racks, paint baseboard on his knees, lift a forty foot ladder onto the rack of his truck and climb three story houses to replace attic vents. He does all this with arthritic knees, two herniated discs, and aching thumbs that wake him each night along with restless leg syndrome that also wakes me.
Until Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Rush, Sean et al have spent a month working a blue collar, manual labor job, they are not qualified to talk about raising the minimum age for social security on people who are already well into their fifties.
After work each day we make cocktails and head to the dock where we listen to the call of the loon and discuss the arboreal forest. Seriously, we did have this discussion one night. Flocks of geese fly into the islands for the night, honking, barking and cackling their own conversations.
But this week there was more magic than that. It was the magic of music. I have been writing a third novel and music runs through the story of Samuel Ryder, my protagonist. The minute I arrived at this magical house, there were signs that I was on the right track.
It started at the coffee table where my books were displayed along with the stories of Steven Tyler, Keith Richards, Fleetwood Mac and Pattie Boyd.
Now that’s not quite as mysterious as the lovely message I received while driving past a rainbow. The owners of the house are my friends. But what added to the magic and fueled my writing were the photos on the walls. My husband and I were staying in the Crosby Stills room.
These rock ’n roll photos were taken by Rowland Sherman, who once worked for Life magazine. My friend discovered them at the Artworks Gallery in Orleans on Cape Cod and started collecting some pieces.
Late at night after dinner, we watched music on the Palladium channel or listened to a local radio station that played Jackson Browne, Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers and others that have fueled the story I was writing. The soundtrack of my novel.
The idea for the novel came to me months ago while driving in my car listening to Dylan’s Fourth Time Around. The story has really very little to do with the song but somewhere in those lyrics was a seed that started to grow and turned into words on the page.
This summer on the road, traveling the East Coast of America, there have been cryptic messages and obvious signs. Is it all coincidence? I think not.