Tuesday, October 6, 2015

7:30 BELLS: A Web of Art

Walking along the river path, I saw this spider web limned in sunlight. How perfect it is, suspended in mid air, the lines attaching it to the birch trees mere flashing silver filaments. How I’d love to create a piece of writing or art this shining, a piece where what is left out is integral to the beauty.

A web is a creation to catch something flying through the air. A story or a piece of art is also a creation to catch something flying, but through our minds.

I hold the hope to make something so beautiful, that someone passing by, who sees it in the right light, is caught. They look. Wonder. And then they go on, changed, carrying what caught them. Some shining silver filament they barely remember stays with them as they walk on down their path. Some faint ringing of the bells. In some small way, the story has become part of them. And they never see the world in quite the same way again.

I would like that so much--to pass along the ringing bells.

7:30 BELLS  Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on October 13 for a guest post with children's book author Lois Brandt.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

7:30 BELLS: Maintenance

Dear Gentle Readers,

The bell tower is closed for much needed maintenance this week. I look forward to sharing a new post with you next week, when the bells will ring out again.

Meanwhile, keep ringing!
Dia Calhoun

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

7:30 BELLS: When Light is the Seed

When I looked out my east bedroom window last week, the bird feeder shone like a bell full of light. Yet the bird feeder was empty of what it was supposed to hold—seeds.

And I thought this: You may think that some part of your heart, or spirit, or life is empty because it doesn’t hold what you expected it to hold. Or it doesn’t hold what those around you expected it to hold. But perhaps it’s only waiting for one bright morning to show you it is full—full to bursting—of some food you didn’t expect and never looked for.

Then you open your eyes to the revelation of what’s been overflowing inside you all along. To the revelation that the wild light feeds you more than any sanctioned seeds bought from a store. That the light is the seed.

All you had to do was look out your window on the right morning.

7:30 BELLS  Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on October 13 for a guest post with children's book author Lois Brandt.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

7:30 BELLS Guest Post: Linnea Lentfer

Eleven-year-old Linnea Lentfer is the youngest writer ever to write a 7:30 BELLS Guest Post. Her writing is my favorite kind--deeply embedded in place. See also Lentfer's award-winning Letter About Literature.

Our growing garden, ripening berries, and spawning salmon fade in and out as the globe tilts upon its axis, providing a rhythm to our Southeast Alaskan lives. Having lived through eleven of these cycles I have fallen in love with each season. Even so, one can’t help but have favorites.

Each year, as the fireweed goes to seed, the cranberries hang heavy on their bushes, and the potatoes await harvest, sandhill cranes migrating south with their young rest in the wetlands near our meadow. As we roust spuds from the dirt we are treated to a concert, the high whistling chirp of the babies intermingling with the melodic chortle of their parents.

The voices of these cranes have stirred something deep within my soul ever since I was two. As I toddled about the garden decked out in baby fat and raingear, the cranes flapped into view. When their voices first reached my ears l pointed a pudgy finger to the sky and said “Look Mama, cranes!”

Why is it, I wonder, that out of the whistles, croaks, and gurgles I hear every day, the sound of cranes, which I hear just a few weeks a year, rings so deeply in my heart? Maybe it’s simply the time of year they come, when I’m already filled to the brim with gratitude from the harvest and the cranes put me over the top. Maybe it’s just the cranes’ story. Their ancestors’ voices, identical to the ones I hear today, rang across North America when it was covered in three toed horses and hippos, ten million years ago. Maybe it’s the sound alone that attracts me. The unique gurgling crrrrr of a thousand voices, so mesmerizing that it still rings in my ears when the cranes are out of sight.

Whatever the answer, when the harvest is finished and our summer’s work is a gorgeous mountain of vegetables, the joy of my happily aching arms and tired feet is topped by the flight of cranes. A bell within me that has been silenced to a memory since last fall rings again.

Linnea Lentfer has lived all of her eleven years in Gustavus Alaska with the critical habitat area for migrating cranes just outside her front door. She has just begun her first year of homeschooling which she enjoys immensely and is looking forward to the new opportunities it will give her. In addition to writing she likes to spend her free time playing the fiddle and reading but most of all time outdoors (preferably barefoot) in the beautiful place she is fortunate enough to call home.

7:30 BELLS  Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on October 13 for a guest post with children's book author Lois Brandt.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Announcing "Fall Bells"--7:30 BELLS Guest Bloggers for Fall

I'm so pleased to share the "Fall Bells," the 7:30 BELLS Guest Post Bloggers for this fall. 
Find their posts on the second Tuesday of each month.

Linnea Lentfer
September 8

Eleven-year-old Linnea Lentfer is the youngest person to guest post on 7:30 BELLS. Lentfer's letter for The Center for the Book's (Library of Congress) national contest for students, Letters About Literature, won first place for Alaska in Level one.

Lois Brandt
October 13

Lois Brandt's picture book, Maddi's Fridge, won the 2014 Christopher Award, and has been nominated for many others. Brandt has also published work in Highlights, Pockets, and Sparkle Magazines.

Jim Whiting
November 10

Jim Whiting has written over 170 non-fiction books for children on a wide-ranging subjects from Vivaldi to Black Holes. He's also a running coach and magazine editor.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Linnea Lentfer's Letter: Alaska Winner

Below is Linnea Lentfer's beautiful letter for The Center for the Book's (Library of Congress) national contest for students, Letters About Literature. It describes how she was transformed by Eva of the Farm, my middle grade novel. Linnea's letter won first place for Alaska for Level One. Linnea writes so vividly. I'm sure we'll all be reading her novels one day.

Dear Dia Calhoun,

In my first 10 years of life I had always considered a loss, a loss.I could find nothing good out of it. A fear was something I would avoid, not face.

I come from a family of hunters. Each year we go to a small cabin on an island and spend the days walking slowly through the beauty of the Southeast Alaskan old growth forest. From this we not only take in beauty but also we take the lives of what I believe to be the most graceful and peaceful of animals on Earth. The Sitka black-tailed deer.

Every time I heard the rifle go off and watched the deer fall it always seemed that the spiraling piece of lead had shattered my heart not the deer’s. As we knelt alongside the still-warm animal my tears left wet marks on the dark, velvety fur.

Through all the years of hunting, I’ve struggled to make peace in my mind between the beauty of the hunt and taking the deer’s life. Reading your book Eva of the Farm was a big step.

As I read, I found Eva’s love for her farm and her friend like my love for the woods and the deer. Her sense of loss for her friend and possibly her home was like mine. I was able to relate so well with Eva in the beginning that as she made peace with her troubles so did I.

Now, as I walk up to a deer the tears falling are not of sorrow, they are of gratitude, to be able to live where I do and experience the bittersweet beauty of hunting.

Linnea Rain Lentfer, grade 5

Thank you so much, Linnea, for writing this beautiful letter to me. It touched my heart. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

7:30 BELLS: Crystal Heart

Sometimes the joy of being alive is simple, so simple, just these: mountains, sun, time with someone you love. Such was this day I spent with my husband on Crystal Mountain in the Cascades.

Up and up we rode the heart-stopping gondola--a staggering 6,800 feet--to a view ringed with mountains. It was like standing inside an immense crown. To the west, shown the crown jewel of Mt. Rainier (pictured). To the south glimmered Mt. Adams and Mt. Saint Helens. Teasing in and out of the clouds in the north, Mount Baker and Glacier Peak. And receding eastward were foothills that in any other place would be called mountains.

Together we hiked. Ate ice cream bars. Sat on a cliff and stared amazed at the grandeur before us. Nothing more was needed. Nothing more wanted. My heart became the mountain--a crystal bell ringing clear, ringing bright.

7:30 BELLS  Posts run every Tuesday.
7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month.