Guest Post by Maine Author Jennifer Wixson: Down Home on the Farm
One of the things I love about being a writer is all the other writers I get to meet and sometimes get to help! Combine that with one of the few writers I’ve met in person who happens to write about Maine and history (two of my loves!) and farming (the field I work) well… geez, sometimes the fates really are just fabulous. Today, I’m giving over my blog to a fellow Maine Writer, Jennifer Wixson. She writes beautiful stories that make you love life and cherish the world. Don’t believe me? I’ll let her convince you…
Down Home on the Farm – Where Mr. Real Meets Ms. Surreal
Guest Post by Maine Author Jennifer Wixson
The Christmas I was six-years-old my grandfather gave me the children’s picture book, Johnny Tractor and His Pals, a story about how a John Deere tractor and other farm implements talk things over when the farmer shuts out the lights and goes to bed. The book fired my imagination and the next haying season I went about our farm in Winslow, Maine trying to get the old Ford 640, the rake and the hay baler to unburden themselves. I didn’t succeed in getting that old iron to tell me their secrets, but I did succeed in learning to think outside the barn.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that the best fiction writers have both a grip on the real world AND a grip on the surreal, which we all know exists, if only in our imaginations. When I’m taking readers to a place they’ve never been before, it helps to have familiar stepping stones along the way, such as the pocket watch the time-pressed white rabbit appeals to in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” he laments. Like Alice, we are hooked, and gamely follow them both down the rabbit hole. I’ve always thought that if Lewis Carroll hadn’t written Chapter 7, “A Mad Tea Party,” someone else would have penned it because the scene is so real. (I mean, who wouldn’t want to cram the sleepy dormouse into the tea pot?)
Today my husband and I raise Scottish Highland cattle on our farm in central Maine. Our annual clock follows the sun through the seasons and at a quick glance our life would seem as grounded as a tedder that’s set too low. But if you could see inside my head you’d experience a different reality. Some days my eyes follow two azure darning needles on their whirlwind courtship and I am swept away to a world of love and friendship, where sweet raindrops fall like cupcakes and the karma is definitely good. Other days I slip off my clothes and run naked through the golden rod, feeling as natural as the bumble bees that work the white clover in the pasture.
When you spend a lot of time out of doors like I do, you notice that there is a lot of love going on. Most of the sights I see and sounds I hear relate to living creatures romancing their own. In fact, the tree frogs are so amorous at night in summer that both my husband and I have trouble sleeping. I lay awake in bed listening to them chirp like monkeys in the bush while my husband—uses ear plugs. When we awaken around 4 a.m. there is only one tired frog croaking out a tune, for every night is a game of musical chairs and this poor fellow has lost again!
Not too surprisingly, I write rural romances, novels set in the mythical small town of Sovereign, Maine, a place not unlike the Garland Road where I grew up. Sovereign has frogs and cows, and hens and chickens (and did I mention the frogs?) I like to write about love because it’s both real AND surreal. True love never dies, even when the physical shell of the beloved departs this world. How cool is that? We have the power to reach beyond the grave into a world that we know nothing—and yet everything—about.
My latest novel, The Songbird of Sovereign, lifts up this theme of loss and love beyond the grave. I intentionally try to get readers to venture along familiar stepping stones to a place they’ve never been before. One of my advance readers wrote the best intro to a book review I’ve ever read. She said: “Have you ever finished a book and wanted to hug it? The Songbird of Sovereign is such a book.”
Come for a visit, won’t you? www.TheSovereignSeries.com Pack an appetite for love and for the best Maine food you’ll never eat. Bring your hankie … and maybe a set of earplugs.
Maine farmer, author and itinerant Quaker minister Jennifer Wixson writes from her home in Troy where she and her husband raise Scottish Highland cattle. You can follow her farm adventures on Twitter @ChickenJen and on Facebook