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Trail Wood Journal, Day One

July 28, 2020

I kept a journal during my residency at Trail Wood.  Over the next six days, I will share each day’s entry. 

I arrived at 8am, my car packed with food, a computer, a week’s supply of clothes, and my dog, Lollie. Rich Telford, who helps run Trail Wood and organizes the residencies, met me here. He gave me my orientation, showed me around the house and introduced me to a number of details about Edwin Way Teale’s life, many of his books on display, and his study, which has been left largely untouched since Teale’s death in 1980. Indeed, the calendars on the wall still read “October 1980.”  I was twelve, living in San Diego the last time the calendar page on that wall had been turned.

He also took me to Teale’s writing cabin, which was reproduced at the exact specifications of Henry David Thoreau’s at Walden. It was more pleasant than I expected. It’s kept very clean, has a new roof, and is not anywhere as dingy as it appears when gazing in through the windows. I don’t know if I will use it much this week, but I may be tempted to give it a try. It was also a surprise to learn the two ponds on the site are filled with bass–not artificially by humans, but by nature.  Teale had a local fisherman come and catch 20-30 fish per week because he hated the bass.  They evidently ate a lot of the insects he wished to study. 


After Rich’s departure, I settled in, set up the kitchen, unpacked my clothes, made the bed and discovered there were no pillows. Evidently, I was supposed to bring them, but missed that in the instruction sheet.  I brought cases, but no pillows.  I set up my computer and my writing in what appeared to be the old dining room. There is a huge dining table in the center, but it’s not adjacent to the kitchen, so I’m not totally sure. I  then ran home to get pillows. I was only 25 minutes away, so it was worth the trip.

I didn’t sleep well that night (or any night while I was there, unfortunately), so I worked on new ideas for poems, read Billy Collins “The Trouble With Poetry” (the trouble is that reading poetry makes you want to write poetry), in between shifts of the hammock and the living room love seat. I also did revisions to some of the poems I brought to work on and then Lollie and I went for a pre-dinner walk that introduced us to a great blue heron on the beaver pond. 

After dinner, I decided to sit outside and write this.  I wonder what it will be like to wake up here tomorrow.  As I write this, a chorus of bird song, not all of it harmonic, is filling the air.  I am hopeful to see bats this evening.

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