This was my first trip to Hocking Hills, but I’ve heard nothing but people gushing about how wonderful it is since I moved to Ohio about 6 ½ years ago. One thing my comic friends like to mention is that Jeff Smith set most of Bone in Hocking Hills, and the iconic cover image is inspired by Old Man’s Cave.
And I heard the trees. Sometimes, they sounded like old creaky doors groaning on their hinges. Other times like chickens clucking.
The birds were active too, singing, chirping, tweeting, cawing, screeching, all different noises by different birds at different times, but all much more when it was sunny.
I saw some deer one evening—one adult and two young ones. I stood and watched them crash through the underbrush. Then a hawk screeched, repeatedly, and they sprinted off. The next evening, I saw deer in the same place (probably the same ones). The adult stood and stared at me, and I stared back at her. I waved. She opened her mouth, stretched her neck and her tail out, and SCREECHED! It was the same noise I’d heard the night before and attributed to a hawk. But it was a deer screeching! And as soon as she did, her and her babies scampered off into the woods again.
And the clouds too. When was the last time I slowed down enough to watch the clouds pass overhead and to pick out shapes?
I didn’t talk to too many people during my stay in the woods. There was a family in the cabin next door, but they weren’t the Southern Mama and Southern Daddy I’m used to. They’d just as soon leave me alone. Some younger kids stayed for one night at a nearby cabin. Why do kids feel it necessary to communicate entirely by yelling? The cottages had TVs, but I didn’t plug mine in. I was amazed at how many glowing screens I could see when walking down the cottage street in the evening. Why would you come all the way out here just to watch network television? There are books to read! Games to play! Thoughts to think!
I did quite a bit of work on my novel while on this retreat, which was the point after all. I was able to connect much more strongly with one of my characters who I’d been a bit out of touch with lately, and rewrote several of her scenes (I’m in the repair stage now). Probably because of the isolation and internal focus, and also because of what I was reading while there. I feel pretty good about what I was able to get done, and it certainly felt great to do it.
And now I have a new day job. It’s going well, but it’s a long commute and I’m there 5 days a week, so I have a lot less free time than I used to. That is, I have a lot less writing time. I’ll have to review my previous posts on finding time to write, I suppose!
But I’m very glad I took that quiet time in the woods to listen and watch what was around me.