Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Circus in Winter

On day one of the new year I preached my new year's sermon and then said goodbye-for-now to my Colorado life and flew back to my life in Indiana. I arrived late at the Indianapolis airport and drove in the darkness to the tiny town of Goldsmith, Indiana, population 200, where I spent the night with my friend Keith's family.

On day two of the new year I had persimmon pudding for breakfast and explored rural Tipton County. Highlight: an indoor flea-market-junk-market in Kokomo (to the north of Goldsmith) where I bought a tea kettle, a teapot (my new year is going to have lots of tea drinking in it), and a very large Mother Goose cookie jar - or maybe it's Jemina Puddle Duck - or some other statuesque fowl in a kerchief. I'm not going to put cookies in her. I'm going to put book ideas in her instead. I may make her the centerpiece of my Winter Term class on writing children's books - I'll let you know.

Then Keith and I drove to Muncie, Indiana, to have dinner at the gorgeous Victorian home of author Cathy Day and her husband, Erik. Cathy's critically acclaimed collection of interlocking short stories, The Circus in Winter, has been made into a musical by creative writing/theatre students at Ball State University. Cathy's home town is Peru, Indiana, which was the winter home of a Midwest touring circus at the turn of the last century, and she draws from local lore as well as family stories to create her gallery of portraits of circus folk in the dark still season of the year. The musical was being performed that night, and it was wonderful: poignant, sad, wrenching, uplifting - with not one but two amazing enormous puppet elephants.

Now it's day three of the new year, and I'm back in Greencastle, typing this from my office at the Prindle Institute, readying myself for the launch of my Winter Term class tomorrow. Will I use the Story Goose or not? Probably I will. It just seems as if it's going to be that sort of year.

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