Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Horse Boy and a boy named Horse.

Yesterday was my long day of the week, starting with a cup of coffee and a couple of chapters of The Horse Boy (now a film) by Ruphert Isaacson at six o'clock. I was pretty excited to find this book, as coincidentally my new young adult novel, In the Shelter of the Sky (currently unsold and just finished for submission in early November) features a little boy with autism named, Horse, who speaks for the first time when my male protagonist, Catch, brings a riding horse to the Night People, who worship Great Horse as the creator of the world and believe riding is an abomination. Catch and Spring (my female protagonist) travel to a mountian shaman to seek healing for her injured leg and his black thoughts--what we would today call post traumatic stress disorder. My story is set 6000 years ago in central Asia and is fiction. The Horse Boy is a true, contemporary account of a father and mother who bring their autisitic son to shamans and horses in Mongolia to seek healing for him.

My story thread came from lunch last March with my ancient horse guru, Sandra Olsen, of the Carnegie Musem of Natural History, when I was invited to do a presentation and book signing for the opening of The Horse exhibit. Sandi told me a story of a little boy with autism who spoke for the first time when he was intrudced to a policewoman's horse in his school parking lot. Funny that with all my delving into the ancient history of humans and horses, that artifact of modern life should be among of the treasures that I was able to bring to my story. I should add that Sandi is not ancient--only the horses that she studies!

Ever since the first version of Wind Rider appeared as a short story called A Gift from the Spirit in Horsepower Magazine, there has seemed to be some sort of channeling going on. I wrote about people who only had domesticated dogs and horses long before I discovered the Botai culture of ancient Kazakhstan. Then while researching Shelter, I reconnected with Steve Bodio, author of Eagle Dreams and A Rage for Falcons, who was my mentor at the Wildbranch Writers Conference about fifteen years ago. Darned if he's not researching the domestication of the dog in Kazakhstan while I'm researching the domestication of horses! (I think I'm being led to Asia and to writing about hunting with horses, eagles, and dogs next!) And now the mystical connection between autists and animals . . .

So anyway, to make a long blog (and day) short, I taught two three hour classes with my foundation drawing students (who mostly seemed still exhausted and thoroughly blocked about the concept of actually working despite their Thanksgiving break) with grocery shopping in between. Then off to the Wellsville Creative Arts Center for my tile making class with Ashley Gray. I have now carved one-and-one-half tiles in clay, so my new bathroom should be done in about ten years. Home in wind and rain at nine.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Big Turkey Tracks

Fred (Wiz) and I got back from Thanksgiving in New England yesterday afternoon. The Allegany plateau was the predicted ten degrees colder than the rest of the world and yes, indeed, we did awaken to a dusting of snow this morning. Charlie the rooster and Buttercup, the hen are safely in their new coop inside the garden where they can roam during the daytime. I'll call my friend Bob ( tonight and see if he's willing to sell me a couple more hens. I really love hearing Charlie crow through the dim world of my early morning sleep hours. I don't find it annoying, just sort of a peacefull country sound. Also it reminds me of Sally Birmingham, our dear neighbor who passed away a few years ago. She loved to hear a rooster crow.

We had a lovely, mini-Thanksgiving with our daughter, Spring, at our hundred year old, barnswallow's nest of a camp in southern new Hampshire. The overcast weather held the temperature at a pretty comfortable 46-48 degrees. It's a hard building to heat, but we were pretty snug. We feasted on an eleven pound, organically grown, heirloom variety, Burbon Red turkey purchased in Northampton, MA, but sadly grown in California and shipped cross country, which gave that little bird a much bigger footprint than it already had. Ah well. All the veggies were from our garden, butternut squash, leeks, brussells sprouts, and potatos. Yum. It was fun cooking together, and very tempting to pull up chairs for the three dogs to join us at the table.

As we washed up our three plates in the kitchen, I thought, uh oh, now it's the Christmas season!