Last weekend, I taught two poetry workshops and did a reading at the North Coast Redwoods Writers' Conference. It was a long trip north, (seven hours), and worth every minute.
After arriving in the nick of time, I spruced myself up at the Curly Redwood Lodge, (very rustic motel decorated a la 1970's), and drove even farther north to the college where I gave a poetry reading to a fabulously enthusiastic crowd. The audience was full of people of every age, from eighteen to eighty. The response was so wonderful, I wanted to keep reading forever. I felt brave and encouraged and took a few of my new poems from my just-completed second manuscript for a spin with this crowd. It felt great to feel their listening, to feel their enjoyment. I sold all the books and CDs I brought, spent time signing books. It was terrific! People in Crescent City are hungry for the Word. My workshops were equally rocking: the students giving their whole attention to my presentation, then dove into writing and reading their work, making suggestions, laughing, talking, learning, sharing. This makes me incredibly happy. It's as if my spirit says, "Yes! This is what you are meant to be doing. This is it!" I love teaching at conferences because of the sincere desire on the students' part to immerse themselves in the subject matter. We belong together then. It's a mutual exchange, and I never feel tired after teaching, only exuberant.
One woman attended my poetry workshop with her 72-year-old mother. It was her birthday gift to her mother. Two of my students were still in high school and also taking classes at the College of the Redwoods. They were articulate and passionate about writing.
I was in heaven.
After teaching, I went for a jog by the sea. It was cloudy out, the water like green opals. I ran back to my car through a neighborhood. A woman in a red-checked flannel shirt was working in her yard. She waved at me, holding papers. "Did they get you, too?"
I had seen the young people with their clipboards walking on the street. "No," I said.
"Obama!" I shouted. "Obama!"
The woman made a thumbs up. "Right!" She said.
Okay! So I even got a little stumping in at Crescent City.
Went to a party on Saturday night at Ken's house. Ken is a poet and English teacher at the College of the Redwoods. His house was gorgeous, the dinner divine, and I heard this saying that I just adored: "You'd make a junkyard dog jump the fence."
The ride back to Oakland:
I leave the Curly Redwood Lodge at 7:30a.m, pick up a Starbucks' latte and head down 101.
On the CD player: Beyond the Missouri Sky, Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny.
There is nothing like listening to beautiful music in the morning while driving south along the coast from the top of the great state of California toward home.
The fog smoky and lacy, moving between the towering redwood trees, over the meadows of dandelions, the pampas grass, the sea, the sea, the ever-constant ever-changing sea.
Blackbirds as big as ducks. A white heron cruising over the field, wings spanning the blue.
Elk Crossing sign! Are they kidding? But I slowed down. And then I saw an elk. What a grand creature, pacing elegantly across the lawn of someone's house!
I'm fourth generation Californian, but I fell in love all over again, even deeper and harder, on this drive.
Oh, California, you make a junkyard dog jump the fence.
Causes Susan Browne Supports
Run Together, A Race to Raise Money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society