The Beast is Back

Under the heading “Truly Strange” I offer this:

I have a battery-powered ambiance lamp which I keep on my nightstand. I started the habit after spilling my wine for the 400th time.

Josh and I binge-watch shows on his laptop before going to sleep, so I put the ambient light in red-mode (which allegedly supports melatonin production), and so I don’t try to set my wine on a part of the nightstand that isn’t there. (I know, I know, I probably shouldn’t drink wine in bed, but it’s the only way I can think of to make sure it’s handy when I wake up in the morning 😉 ) Anyway, when it’s time to go to sleep, I pick the lamp up and fumble for the tiny switch on its base to turn it off.

However, this morning at the stroke of 4:00, while I was in the midst of explaining to my dream-mom that gardening IS work and not just a hobby, because it could potentially IMPROVE the value of my home, and that was why I had no free time to see her, because I worked two jobs–both the day job, and my dream-imaginary part-time job, and plus all the mom-things I do, and the job of keeping the house clean and the laundry washed and the pantry stocked…

And that’s when the light came on, which sounds like a metaphor, and a cliché at that–but no. The light came on. The
Taipow LED Night Light, Bedside Table Lamp for Baby Kids Room Bedroom Outdoor, Dimmable Eye Caring Desk Lamp with Color Changing Touch Senor Remote Control which I got at Amazon.

The light that can only come on by picking the damn thing up and feeling around the base for its switch (yes, there’s a remote, but I threw it away in fit of konmarie).

I have no explanation for this. It was in bright-white mode (the default), but my point is that it’s not like I left the damn thing on in a pinot-induced stupor. This was no accident. It was a wake up call, and no I’m not talking metaphorically.

When I was writing HitList I’d find myself waking up at four, completely and unable to get back to sleep. And on more than one occasion it felt (or seemed) like someone, some thing had tugged at my foot, or yanked at the covers. I’d roll out of bed and write for two hours, until it was time to get ready for the moneyjob and see the urchins off to school.

At the time I joked about it–called it The Beast–but I was only half joking. I was filled with fire. I wrote the first draft of HitList in three months, a feat I haven’t been able to duplicate in the three novels since.

I have a new baby now and it’s something different than the four Contemporary YAs I’ve written. It’s a memoir manifesto on life-and-gardening in the age of climate catastrophe. It’s about what it’s like to live in a town gut-punched by two massive natural disasters in less than 15 years, what is like to grow up in the state with the least amount of natural land than any other, and about what happens when an inexperienced gardener goes native.

Today is our Derecho-versary. One year ago today, a category four land hurricane flattened our town. It blew off the top floor of apartment buildings, peeled the roof off of a number of area schools and businesses, and left a 200-year old oak tree in pieces on my yard. We’re still trying to stitch our city together. The woman two doors down from me has been a climate refugee ever since.

Our house, immediately after the derecho. One year ago today.

There’s just so much to say about this–the growing gravity of unprecedented climate events: fires and windstorms and floods (oh my). About everything: from the precious monarch eggs on the milkweed outside, to the deadzone in the Gulf of Mexico larger than Connecticut. And I’ve got plenty to say about it; enough to fill a book, I think.

Not a book filled with grim warnings and dire predictions. Rather, I think it’s a book about hope. It’s about how wonderous the world is, how resilient, and how much we can accomplish if we put our minds to it, if we work together and quit letting change-fearing hate-mongers sway us with cheap manipulations. And about how much we stand to lose if we don’t.

Which is why I’m up at 4:00am and why I’m pretty sure The Beast is back.

If you want to keep up with me, follow The Official Karen© on Medium where I post angry letters to the Governor and will be submitting a series of essays for their Writer’s Challenge. Or, check out Iowa Native Gardener, where I blog about my attempts at native prairie restoration and try to justify the copious amounts of pokeweed in my yard.

Love you, my most dear readers, and if you’ve read this far, well then, thanks.

xo

Karen

2 Comments

  1. peterkirsch

    I know you’re not going to believe this, but as I turned out my own light last night (surely long after yours went dark) I asked myself, “When will I hear from KR again? I wonder if she’s ever going to climb back up on the horse (or in this case, The Beast).”
    I wish I could say that I thought it at 4am and the cosmic sentiment instantly turned on your light, but who knows, maybe it takes awhile for karmic inspiration to travel from Wisconsin to your bedside table.
    Regardless, I’m so pleased to have awoken to you back in the saddle. Now tame that rearing beast.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is the most delightful comment of all time. I hope you’re writing, dear friend. Thank you for the karmic (and cosmic) inspiration 🙂

      Like

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