Jan. 28, 2012

Winter Is the Best Time

by David Budbill

Winter is the best time
to find out who you are.

Quiet, contemplation time,
away from the rushing world,

cold time, dark time, holed-up
pulled-in time and space

to see that inner landscape,
that place hidden and within.

"Winter Is the Best Time" by David Budbill, from While We've Still Got Feet. © Copper Canyon Press, 2005. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Sue Hubbell (books by this author), born in Kalamazoo, Michigan (1935). She said: "No one expected much from little girls growing up in the 1930s in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Mine was a family of high-aspirers, but they gave up on me [...] I was left pretty much alone. I look at today's youngsters with their enrichment programs, after-school lessons and activities, busily building résumés so that they can get into Harvard and realize I was given a wonderful gift — a happy childhood of my own making. I climbed trees and sat in the tops of them for long, long periods of time. I made exquisite little villages under an old pinoak tree by the edge of a lake. I read a lot in a random sort of way. I wondered a lot because the things I was most interested in seldom were on teachers' agenda. And so I asked a lot of questions. Asking questions wasn't a good preparation for any respectable career."

She became a journalist, a bookstore manager, and a librarian at Brown University, where her husband, Paul, taught. But they weren't satisfied with their lives, and they quit their jobs and bought 99 acres in the Ozarks in southern Missouri and took up beekeeping. After 30 years of marriage, the couple divorced, and she found herself alone, middle-aged, living on a big farm, producing honey. And she started to write down her own story. She said: "I was writing for myself, and what I put on paper over the next couple of years was unlike anything I had written before. I traced the natural history of my hilltop from one springtime to the next, discovering by the second spring that I was in a new place and understanding the value of where I was. That book was A Country Year: Living the Questions (1986). Her other books include A Book of Bees (1998), Waiting for Aphrodite (1999), and From Here to There and Back Again (2004).

It's the birthday of Rick Warren (books by this author), born in Redwood Valley, California (1954). He's the author of The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (2002), which has sold more than 30 million copies.

Warren grew up the son of a Baptist minister, went to Baptist seminary, and decided to start his own church from scratch. He did some research to determine which state had the fewest churches per capita, and it turned out that it was California. He also learned that Saddleback County in California was one of the fastest-growing counties in America at the time, so he and his wife and baby daughter moved there, and he went door to door, asking people if they went to church, and if not, what kind of a church they would like. He decided that what people wanted was a casual church. He started in a school gymnasium with 200 people present. He preached in a Hawaiian shirt, incorporated contemporary rock music into the services and gave practical advice in his sermons, and over the next 15 years, his church kept growing — to more than 20,000 members.

It's the birthday of the comic novelist David Lodge (books by this author), born in suburban London, England (1935), to a traditional Catholic family. His early novel, The Picturegoers (1960), is about a Catholic family in South London who take in a university student as a lodger. Other early novels draw on Lodge's own life: Ginger, You're Barmy (1962) about compulsory service in the British military, and The British Museum is Falling Down (1970) about a Catholic graduate student working on his thesis.

It's the birthday of novelist Colette (books by this author), born Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette in a village in France (1873). She's the author of more than 50 novels, including Gigi (1944), which was made into a movie. She died in 1954 at 81 years old, the first woman in the history of France to be given a state funeral — 6,000 people filed by her casket and covered it in flowers.

Collette said, "Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
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