Under This Unbroken Sky
Under This Unbroken Sky

“…Mitchell’s prose strikes like a prairie thunder storm, every page building to an intensity that’s simply awing to behold.”
Joseph Boyden, Giller Prize Winner, Through Black Spruce.

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Summer

I find myself at home and it is almost the end of August. The next few weeks are mine. I haven’t had time off in years. The book carried me to Cyprus, an amazing, ancient and troubled land. Mezzo meals, keo beer, olive oil, lamb, Mount Olympus, the birthplace of Aphrodite, limestone land, Lefkosia-Nicosia-a city divided, the forbidden zone, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, politics, stories of loss and occupation, bullet pocked walls, gaping artillery holes, the Mediterranean, Da Vinci lace…Roman, Venetian, Muslim, Greek Orthodox, Turkish architecture, beaches crowded with resorts and British pubs…layers and layers of time.  My thanks to Velee whom I sat with on the street outside his shop, drinking beer and eating grilled corn on the cob into the night, as he shared his stories. And the Captain who invited me to join his family for a Sunday boat ride to their own secret swimming cove. The old Greek man, who ran an ancient healing shop adorned with life sized,  beeswax candles of arms, legs, hearts and breasts. The young Vietnamese exhange student who filled my hands with fresh picked plums and apricots. The University and the professors who came to listen and shared their passion for the written word. Stafros who belly danced– his soul radiating. The Pakistan/Lebanon driver of an Iraqi businessman who took my picture and told me about his wife and the child he would not see for another six months, and shook my hand before being ordered away. You filled me with your stories.

And then onto Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia and the Fables Literary Club. An extraordinary elegant, speak-easy vibe in the heart of an artistic community. I finally had the chance to meet the fabulous Linda Little, author of Scotch River and she had come to hear me!  Hannah and Chuck, my incomparable hosts who made me feel like family, and opened their home on the ocean. Great food and four beautiful dogs. For the first time in my travels, I thought this is a place where I could live. I look forward to returning and enjoying Fables’ amazing musical, film and literary lineups. Even Margaret Atwood has visited.

Stephen Patrick Clare arranged a literary luncheon at the legendary Halifax Club. It was wonderful to hear Sheree Fitch and Binnie Brennan.  We gabbed about writing, fears and the creative process. Each of our writing spaces were under reno at the time, and we were working  in cramped, unfamiliar, chaotic quarters.  But we all agreed that it didn’t matter, once we were writing the din around us disappeared.

I plan to take the next few weeks to be at home, reconnect with life, and tend to my wounded Annie dog (a Sunday ER visit for a deep gash from a broken bottle at her favourite park). I have laid a floor, painted, built bookcases, rearranged all the furniture, purged the clothes closet…oh…oh…these sound like my pre-writing symptoms. Perhaps, it is time to sit and listen.

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