Tuesday, March 12, 2013

TWO SPRING SEASONS


Not everyone gets to experience two Springs, but we enjoy a double Spring every year when we leave New Iberia in March during the time the azaleas, Japanese magnolia, and other purple flowering plants are blooming and return to The Mountain at Sewanee, Tennessee. There, daffodils have begun to show their white and yellow heads, forsythia, and tulip poplar aren’t long behind, and by late April, I’ve sharpened my trowel and begun “putting something in the ground,” as folks around here call the planting process.

This week we return to The Mountain, climbing from below sea level elevation in bayou country to 2,000 feet, and for a swamp dweller, it’s enough of a climb to warrant a few days of adaptation – from marsh and bayou to rocky plateau – from rich Cajun cuisine to mountain barbecue – from French accent to hill folk drawl – the diversity in culture is pronounced.

Fortunately, my writing rooms face woodsy views in both places, so my Muse has plenty of room to develop ideas, visions, novels, poetry, and, of course, blogs. My sojourn in New Iberia this year has included a lot of socializing, and I have some trepidation about leaving old friends because life on The Mountain is sometimes “austere,” as a good friend at Sewanee describes it. In a village of 2000, comprised of mostly college students, jaunts into neighboring states and places to get what we call “a shot of the city,” are frequently called for. However, I write more poetry and enjoy the contemplative aspects of mountain living, particularly since I’m an associate of the Order of St. Mary where the Benedictine routine of prayer and worship takes place daily.

This year during my sojourn in New Iberia, I finished writing a young adult novel, the third in a series about Martin Romero, the young traiteur who is the hero in lively stories about south Louisiana; namely Martin’s Quest and Martin Finds His Totem. Martin and the Last Tribe is set in Isle de Jean Charles where a remote Biloxi-Chitimacha tribe on the Gulf of Mexico struggles for survival despite the threat of being inundated by the sea because they aren’t included in a levee protection plan developed by the government.

When Martin’s Uncle Joe barricades himself in his cabin on the Island rather than move to higher ground, Martin goes down to perform an unwelcome healing and ends up in trouble. More trouble brews when an oil rig explodes in the Gulf, endangering the marshes and wildlife of Isle de Jean Charles. A storm threatens to flood the Island, and he finds himself with more adventure than he wants to handle…

Martin and the Last Tribe was written for middle grade and young adult readers and should be released in May. The painting on the cover was rendered by my brother; the design by my grandson Martin. Those readers who saw the movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild may recognize the compelling setting. More about the book closer to publishing date. My desk is moving to higher ground!

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