This will be the Barn’s biggest year yet, I promise

It’s hard to believe the Red Barn has just passed its tenth anniversary. Frankly, I thought this blog would be going dormant by now, that we would have exhausted everything I have to say or show, but that’s not what’s on the horizon after all.

Instead, thanks to our downsizing and relocating to a remote fishing village with an active arts scene on an island in Maine (whew!), I promise you the best year yet. And, yes, Dover back down the coastline will still be a big part of the mix, but in a new way.

Each year, the Red Barn has changed its emphasis somewhat, and in doing so explored new fields while leaving others behind. Looking back, I’d say it’s made for a natural evolution. The poetry, for instance, has moved over to my unique digital Thistle Finch imprint. Much of the Quaker experience has gone to my As Light Is Sown blog. And newspapers just aren’t what they were, while their “war stories” fade into a foggy past.

During that decade, though, my novels were finally finding publication, and that provided a lode of new material and thinking to share with you.

Photography also became a much bigger part of the mix, thanks to my digital cameras, so much so that I can now claim shooting as one of my hobbies.

Add to that the bunnies and vanity plates and some wordplay, for a little fun, which will continue, as will the Tendrils.

The original visual artwork from my high school portfolio, alas, has been depleted. Let me confess that as the pieces came up, I often wondered why I had done this or that back then. There are some wild leaps of intuition that amaze me now, not that I’d ever venture such confidence these days. Ah, youth! (Sigh.)

A double rainbow, as seen when I was caught in an unexpected shower behind us last summer.

What’s new this year is a close look at Eastport itself and the surrounding Bold Coast and Sunrise County. It’s a remarkable landscape with a host of fascinating characters and wildlife. Having been here a year now allows for some perspective in the discoveries, ones you, too, will be sharing. The encounters have opened a whole new world for me, even as part of upright New England. They’ve also revived many sensations I’d been forced to leave behind in the Pacific Northwest more than 40 years earlier. I hope to be able to convey that awe of natural wonder. I still can’t believe this landlocked Ohio boy looks out the window and sees the ocean daily.

A neighbor’s first holz hausen firewood pile, though it took him three efforts to get it right. I didn’t miss stacking firewood last year, but I definitely missed the comfort of wood-stove heat through much of the winter.

The year also provided me with a writer’s retreat, long stretches of solitude while the rest of the family remained behind, apart from their festive visits.

I was already well into the first draft of my next book when we uprooted but quickly got back down to business here. Alas, after showing the manuscript to a circle of beta readers, it was back to the drawing board for a thorough reworking. I should have been suspicious when the book seemed to write itself. Without revealing too much, I will say the project keeps me connected to Dover but in a fresh way. You’ll definitely be hearing much more while it inches along toward publication.

Another neighbor’s red barn just isn’t the same as the one I left behind.

The barn itself has become a memory, a symbol of the longest place I’ve lived in my life, and maybe even my roots in the farming heartland.

 

 

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