“Make hay while the sun shines” is a saying I often remember when I’m trying to decide what to do next. I’m happy to say it always gives me an opportunity to restart my thinking. Am I doing the task most suited to this moment? This day? This season?
I tend to take the long view. I love history. But what I love most is connecting history to the present, and that’s what old sayings like this do for me. I suspect this one goes back to the earliest days of agriculture when it didn’t matter what else was going on—if the day was sunny, your decision was made for you to get out there and take advantage of the sun. Surviving the winter depended on it.
Nature is a great decider. When the sun is shining, I have a hard time sitting inside slinging words to the page. But when thunder rolls and rain sluices against the window, there’s nothing more delicious than tucking into the world of imagination.
The extremes of nature not only prepare my mood for writing, reading, and other indoor activities but also can provide writing prompts. This month’s short story on my blog started exactly that way, as you’ll see in the following excerpt. From one moment to the next, unraveling a story to see what words appear next on the page is an exercise of creativity and discipline, but also opening to nature’s subtle hints. Or not so subtle, like crashing lightning and howling wind.
I call this making hay while the sun shines. I take what is given and let it run out in front until I see where it’s going. I think it’s good advice no matter what tasks and priorities you may face.
Excerpt from Tale of Two Lovers
Thunder cracked and rolled, shuddering the ground under Inka’s feet. She felt it through the stiff hide of her boots, through the thick fur lining. Peering into the downpour, she tugged her cloak tighter around her shoulders and tried to dismiss a lurking sense of apprehension. Trees bent and tossed in the cold wind, sending rain spray against her face as she stared into the gray deluge.
She saw no one. But she couldn’t make herself close the door.
Someone was out there.
Moments later, the dark figure of a man loomed, walking and leading a horse. As they neared, she could see another man slumped on the horse’s back. Inka briefly considered whether she should seize the heavy dagger she kept by her bed.
She should have felt them coming. How had her vision failed?
They approached her entry and stopped, giving her time to read their energy. It radiated in pale blue waves.
“We need your help,” the walking man said. “Will you provide succor?”
Inka locked eyes with the man, searching within him for evil intent. Sending blue energy could have been a shield. His weathered face streamed with water. Peering from under his soggy hood, his pale eyes reflected the gleam of her fire pit and spoke of his desperation. And his honesty.
“Come in, then,” she said, opening her door wider and stepping back.
He turned to his companion, pulling him off the horse and holding him up with his shoulder as they staggered into the cabin. Inka seized the horse’s reins and led it through the opening as well, walking it past the fire to a bed of straw where her own horse had once bedded. The horse shook itself, rattling the ornate breastplate. She slipped off the bridle and left the weary beast to the hay cradle.
With the door firmly fastened against the howling wind, she turned to study these strangers. The injured man had collapsed at the fireside as his companion peeled off his wet hat. With their hooded cloaks removed, she could see that both men wore a small dotted line along the right jaw, the mark of the distant Eirikr tribe.
“You’re far from your home,” she said, squatting to add more wood to the fire. Coals shifted and sent sparks into the air. Water droplets fell through the smoke hole at the top of her roof and vaporized in the flames with tiny hisses.
“Three days,” the man said. “I’m Darnoc. This is Conrad.”
The injured man lifted his head enough to make eye contact with Inka. His pale blue eyes created a shocking appearance in a face so dark with grime and blood. But it wasn’t the appearance alone that caused her breath to catch in her throat. His gaze conveyed a message so unexpected that her hand dropped to her waist belt to clutch her pouch of talismans.
“He’s a seiðmaðr,” she said in a hushed voice…
Read the rest of this story at:
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