Where to look for Story Inspiration?

Story Inspiration

Where I live in central Wisconsin, it is common to have farmer’s markets open during the spring and summer.  In Stevens Point, the downtown square has been used as the farmer’s market for over 100 years. Recently the area was enlarged and a splash pad was added, making it the place to go on a Saturday morning.

The farmer’s market is an opportunity for smaller farms to sell directly to the consumer. You don’t shop the farmer’s market to get the best deal – you shop to get the freshest fruits and veggies. But what you walk away with can be so much more than a bag loaded with fresh vegetables.

As you stroll along the tables loaded with colorful produce, you hear snippets of conversations. Some of these comments can make you smile or cause you to raise an eyebrow. It isn’t like you are eavesdropping, but there are times when pieces of the conversations are just heard. Here is sample of what I have heard:

  • “Only 3 cucumbers! I can eat that many by myself.”
  • “What is that? It looks like a pile of weeds.”
  • “Your mother said you love beets.”
  • “Wonder if the dog will eat them?”
  • “I want really hot peppers this time.”
  • “It makes me sad to look at raspberries.”
  • “Mom, Jenny is peeing in the water.”
  • “Don’t touch that, it has dirt on it.”
  • “Will it regrow?”

If you are looking for some story inspiration, check out the local farmer’s market.  I find all kinds of story fodder there and lots of good food.

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Watching a Sunset Not that Hard, Right?

Sunset over Lake SuperiorRecently I spent some time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and was very surprised by the beauty of the place.  One of the places I visited was McLain State Park, which is a park that is right on the shore of Lake Superior.  The park has very little cell service and is a great place to get away to recharge.

One afternoon I took the time to watch the sunset over the Lake.  Waiting for the sunset was an experience that sounds simple enough but was surprisingly hard.  I sat there on a bench (provided by the park) and waited for the sunset.  It was about a 30-minute wait – had to get there early to get a bench.  As I waited, the crowd began to grow along the shore.  People of all ages were there.

The Lake is about 20 feet lower than where we waited.  Many of the younger people and children were eagerly climbing the cliff to play in the water.  Those campers that had front row seats to the sunset were quietly setting up chairs to enjoy the event.

There was a smell of campfires burning, and you could hear the crack of a bat as some boys played baseball nearby.  Overall, a very pleasant afternoon.  I sat watching, listening, and waiting for the sunset.

After a few minutes, I found my mind wandering from the sunset to thinking about checking my Facebook account and reading some news while waiting.  But that was impossible to do since I had no bars on my cell phone.  So I sat and tried to focus on the beauty of the place around me.  It was an awakening to realize how hard it was to let go of everything.  I struggled to clear my mind and not worry about the emails that were going unread.

By the time I had relaxed and was enjoying the quiet in my brain, the sun slipped behind a cloud bank, so there was no spectacular sunset that day.  But the time was certainly not wasted, I learned a lot about myself and how hard it is to detach from the instant communications we have and expect.  Now to post this and check what is happening on Twitter.

Elusive Northern Lights

NighSkyWithMoon-ShutterstockI was looking forward to seeing the Northern Lights this past month.  They were going to be over my head after 11:00 p.m but it was recommended to get outside of the city for the best view. I drove outside the city, parked on a dark road and waited.  The weather was perfect, only a few clouds in the sky, and warm enough that only a light jacket was needed.  I waited.

The stars were shining, and I could pick out several constellations.  The breeze blew ever so gently. Staring at the sky, I waited.

Drove a little further north, avoiding all the cities, and busy roads.  All the while watching the sky for the start of the predicted show.

After an hour, I had to go home as I would have to be up in 5 hours to go to work.  I drove slowly with a vigilant eye to the sky.

This is the third time I have stayed up late, driven out of town and waited to be disappointed.  One time I drove almost a hundred miles and spent the night at a hotel with the expectations the Lights would be spectacular from this vantage point.

The next day I learned the Northern Lights had been visible at my house!

This adventure continues.