When I lived on my land, I started a monthly drop-in writing group called “Time to Write.” Friends came to my house with their pads of paper, journals or laptops to work on their poetry, fiction, letters to the editor, whatever. Some came every time and others every once in a while. We worked all morning and then shared a potluck lunch.
Susan Hess, one of the TTW regulars, contributed to all of the area’s publications. The following is a piece that ran in the Hood River News in 2006 as part of Susan’s column, “Second Story Views.”
Writing at Husum
By Susan Hess
I always sit in the same place—the southwest corner of this farmhouse. I get to come here once a month. Saturday morning. And write. Two hours of quiet. Peace really.
I hear cars going by on the highway, but we’re just far enough away that the sound comes here muted. Out the window to my right, the branches of a giant fir tree drape down. New brown cones bristle at the tips of the branches. In a field beyond the fir, is an oak tree—not chopped up to make way for electric and phone lines like in the city. This one is the way oaks grow in an open field: full, exuberant. Its dark green leaves cluster letting the tree’s structure show through.
Behind the oak, a ridge rises several hundred feet high. A dense conifer forest grows up its hillsides. Between the ridge and where I sit is a grassy field—that honey color of late August.
In the next room, “Moon River” is playing on the CD.
The window ahead of me is half-covered by Big Leaf maple. Its canopy shades the south side of this house. From my seat, I look up into the leaves fluttering in an occasional breeze.
Today is the end of my first week of vacation, and today my mind feels like energy has seeped into every part of it.
I sit here in a house surrounded by farm fields. Beyond the maple tree I look out across the grass to a linear grove of cottonwood trees. A Ponderosa pine guards the front of the group.
It’s sunny, warm outside, but cool in here. A nearby window is part way open. Out the east window, a stack of firewood sits on the front porch.
The house offers the comfort old farmhouses give when they’ve been added onto here and there through the years, and added onto for comfort not style. It comes from all the wood used. The windows and doors are trimmed with four-inch-wide fir stained dark. Windows wood framed. And it comes from open doors and windows, a garden out back and from the owners opening the house to friends and family.
Here, I hear no sirens or trains rushing by. There’s lots of sky and sun and shade. And now and then I feel the breeze pushing through the open window and brushing across the floor.
And I can write.