Open Spaces

I was reminded tonight of one of the biggest (and best) differences between a big city and a small one.  I could hear crickets.

Now, I know those of you who live in Houston (or any other big city) are probably thinking “We have crickets here!”  Yes, yes you do.  And there are open spaces in your cities, too.  Houses have yards, apartments have empty spaces, and there are plenty of parks.  The difference is that your crickets are hard to hear over all the other noises, and if you walk 100 yards in any direction, you’ll see more houses, yards, and buildings.

Tonight I walked about 50 yards down from my apartment complex along the lovely trail that follows the Sioux River.  I wasn’t in a great mood (it happens sometimes when you move alone to a city where you don’t know anyone) but when I passed a big space behind my complex, the crickets distracted me.

That’s right, the crickets were so loud that I noticed them.  And it made me smile.

The weather here is gorgeous tonight, in the low 70s with a cool breeze and enough clouds to make the sky interesting.  I live in a place where I can drive a block or two to a restaurant or a store, and yet I can still walk a little distance down the trail and feel like I am in the middle of nowhere.  I still miss my friends (which started the whole crummy mood) but the crickets reminded me that I have good reasons to be where I am.


Words of Wisdom Wednesday

I have been watching The National Parks from PBS recently, and there is a great quote from Teddy Roosevelt in the second episode.  In the spirit of that quote, I have three quotes from speeches for you today!

“Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.” – Theodore Roosevelt at the Grand Canyon, May 6, 1903  (From

“This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” – John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address, June 11, 1963 (from

“The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.” – William Faulkner, accepting his Nobel Prize in Literature, Dec 10, 1950  (from

Writing on the Porch

I have been visiting my family in Illinois the last few days.  It’s been a while since I was back for a visit and my parents have done some major renovations to the house where I grew up. 

Today I am taking advantage of one of those renovations: their new three-seasons porch.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, I will attempt to explain.

At my parents’ house, the three-seasons porch has replaced an old deck.  Instead of being open to the world (thus rainy, cold, or hot depending on the season) the porch has walls and a roof.  The walls are filled with windows; only the space required for the window frames is not glass, at least at a certain level.  What makes it a porch and not a room of the house?  It is not connected to the heating/cooling system and has no insulation.  It does have electricity, enough for one outlet and a ceiling fan.  You can probably guess the three seasons of intended use.

It’s cold here today.  Before I turned on the little space heater, it was 48° Farenheit on the porch.  This is not one of the three seasons (although some might argue that it is still fall, here it feels like winter).  I do not get a lot of chances to visit, however, and I wanted to take advantage of the porch as a place to write while I was here.  I’m sitting on the porch wrapped in throws with a heavy sweatshirt, writing.  After I finish the post, I intend to do some serious work on With Honor (that’s Matthew’s story).

If I was a full-time writer, I think I would have a porch like this as my office.  I write better when I am outside, even if “outside” is really a window away.  🙂