Fall brings cooler temperatures and a host of festivals sure to appeal to a great many people near and far. One rarely needs to spend time in their Lowcountry kitchens with all that transpires in our back yard this time of year (I am the proverbial broken record year after year in this regard so what you gain here is my reaffirmation that we continue to ebb and flow here in the Lowcountry).
Short Story America's (SSA) first annual conference and festival, Hilton Head Island's annual Italian Festival , the Town of Port Royal's last street music concert of the season and my psuedo brother Andrew's band Black Tusk's 7-inch release in Savannah. In other words, little time was spent in the kitchen. So I'm throwing a curve ball of sorts from my usual story wrapped around food to post an exercise from one of the writing workshops I attended during my SSA experience this past weekend. Beaufort author Katherine Tandy Brown in her workshop "Plant a Seed Start a Story" enabled many of us to understand that a healthy stream of consciousness, given the opportunity to flow, is fertile ground for content.
Five minutes with a writing prompt, no corrections, no strikeouts, pen and/or key strokes in constant motion and certainly never ever any self doubt.
The writing prompt "Looking through the key hole..."
Through the keyhole I was shocked to see my neighbor embracing the stranger we'd seen earlier in the day. The one who kept to himself at the gallery, that dined alone in the cafe and then spied later catching the afternoon bus. What mattered more in this instance was the manner in which my neighbor's tears flowed forward while wrapped in the arms of this stranger. She never let on to her grief, not to her neighbors, not even her priest. Yet here she was utterly weeping and allowing the stranger to comfort her, caress her cheek. What is the relationship they share? By the looks of things they aren't complete strangers. We all know the volley of emotion that erupts when the right words spoken by the right person brings us quickly to a moment of recognition. The recognition of our fragility in the face of what is real. And this moment was real. Who is this person that held the key to my neighbor's grief?
I know that when my romance novelist friend Karen Hawkins reads this post she will be amused that given the key hole prompt that I lassoed my thoughts rather close to her genre of writing. But trust me I fell back on my usual trend of humor when given the writing prompt of "sweaty palms."
The forum was set in a university setting where many a politician was expected to appear. The topic dear to my heart, but greater was my interest in meeting U.S. Representative Claude Pepper. I never expected to get close enough to shake hands with the man, but I did. He was everything in an instant that I expected him to be. Kind, charismatic, thoughtful, the consummate politician with a flare for engaging his public. And with that opportunity standing next to him was the young politician from Tennessee, Al Gore. Protocol necessitated that I also reach out to shake the hand of the man from my home state. So I plastered on a continuous smile and reached out my hand and that is when I met my first sweaty palm hand shake. Squeamish ick would be the best way to describe it and sliding away from it none too easy. The nicest of men from my home state had clasped my hand with both his hands. Oh no I thought to myself, less concerned now about the hand shake and more about what my face would reveal during this momentary panic of being embraced by a sweaty palm hand shake. Then out of the corner of my eye I see the elder statesman reach in his pocket and pull out a handkerchief....
This one I might have to finish.