Forget January 1st, with its blustery, winter-bound resolutions. The New Year should commence on the day after Easter. What better time to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new than with the returning rays of light, the blossoming buds of spring and the hope of the resurrection?
This year as the gangly pussy willow beside our chicken coop pushes out soft, new puffs of white and the lemony forsythia at the end of our driveway prepares to burst into color, I too am preparing to celebrate something new. After a quarter century as a Maine journalist, I am retiring from telling other people’s stories to concentrate more fully on telling my own. Last week, I finished what I expect to be my final journalistic deadline, a feature on an Augusta seafood restaurant for The Boston Sunday Globe Magazine.
Before clicking send, I sat at the desk in the corner of my kitchen and wrote my editor a note, announcing my plans, “I filed my first story 25 years ago as a college intern at the York bureau of The Portsmouth Herald and am taking a break to pursue full-time book writing, mostly for children… It is an honor to go out with a piece that truly reflects the best of what I know Maine to be: big hearts and small bank accounts, personal struggles and addiction, a dogged determination to keep going and an unwavering love of family and community.”
Then I stared at the screen, realizing what a momentous moment this was for me. Several months earlier, I’d resigned as a contributing editor for Down East magazine. In truth, my mind could no longer contain the details of other people’s stories while keeping up with my own. From the time I discovered the use of a pen, I aspired to be an author. One of my earliest memories is of stapling together children’s books that I hawked outside my bedroom door for 5-cents apiece. I recently found one, buried in a dresser. On front I’d drawn a dog under the title, “Picher Book,” with a dedication to my mom, Lucy.
After years of attending writer’s workshops and squirreling away time late at night and early in the morning to develop my own stories, I was thrilled last fall to sign a contract with RoseKidz to publish a holiday picture-book series, Lantern Hill Farm. The first volume, The Christmas Cradle, is set to release this fall. I only wish my mom were still here so I could thank her for encouraging me to pursue such a flimsy, fanciful occupation. Writer!
As I survey the blunt tips of tulips and daffodils poking through the Maine mud at the edge of our woods, I am reminded that while they too may be flimsy and fanciful, they are also filled with rare beauty. So if you too hold a dream, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary,” Galatians 6:9.
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the Christopher Award winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine.