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I'm a children's book writer, a campground owner and a special education teacher's assistant. It makes for a very busy year with lots of writing inspiration.
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Right at dusk . . . with a pink sunset fading behind him, the owl swooped into our backyard.
Unlike the other day, when I’d caught a sleepy owl around 3pm, this one was quite active. He almost didn’t look real, as his head swiveled from side to side looking for an early supper.
We watched until we couldn’t see him through the darkness any more.
Oh, how I wished he’d shown up earlier so the pictures were clearer. Still, I was honored by his visit.
Now I can’t stop looking out my back window, hoping for signs of his return.
You might miss it, if you didn’t know what you were looking for. At first, even I thought no one was on the nest.
But there she was, just the top of her white head showing on this glorious day . . .
The Eagle’s are expecting!
The lake was crazy busy today with an ice fishing derby down by the state park. The eagle stayed put on her eggs, even though four wheelers and snowmobiles circled her island. And in spite of the ice fishermen who had set up directly under the nest. (I’m suspecting they didn’t know she was there, considering the side of the island they were on)
Her mate, roosting in a nearby tree, was a little more restless, however.
It IS quite early for them to be sitting on their eggs. Do they know something we don’t? Can we hope that it means an early spring is on the way?
This is the eagle’s nest from last fall.
The eagles have been busy. And not six months busy. This is how much the nest grew in the last TWO WEEKS!
As I headed to the lake today, I hoped to see just one of the eagles. Instead, at the half way point, I peeked through the trees to see two!
I hurried to get a closer look. Images of clear, flight photos ran through my head. I walked on top the snow (which is quite rare nowadays, I don’t mind admitting) and I slipped a bit as I tried to get to to the lake’s edge. Cradling the camera, I began to walk slower with one eye on the prize.
Then I hit the last fifty feet. I crunched. I cracked.
And the eagle’s flew away . . .
I cannot wait to document our 2014 Eagle Adventure. Especially with Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest being released in August . . .
Come back often for eagle updates!
Over February vacation, I flew down to join my husband and kids on Sanibel Island. We’ve been visiting my in-laws there for twenty years now, and it’s one of my favorite places on Earth, mostly because it’s one big Wildlife Refuge.
In other words, it’s a photographer-/-nature-lovers paradise!
I shipped my camera and lenses ahead of me. I missed them for a few days in Maine, so when I arrived in Sanibel, I unpacked it lovingly. I ended up snapping so many photos in the six days I traveled the island, that I’m surprised my laptop isn’t bulging at the seams. I’m trying really hard to cut some photos from the files, but it’s so
*insert whine here*
How hard is it?, you ask?
Well . . . okay . . . you be the judge.
One afternoon, the kids and I decided we didn’t have time to bike or drive (traffic was sooo backed up) to one of my favorite and more remote beaches, so we opted to bike to the beach three blocks away. It also happens to be a much busier, human-type beach. I hemmed and hawed over bringing my camera because I didn’t hold out much hope of seeing wildlife in amongst a sea of human-life.
Finally deciding I’d forever regret it if the dolphins decided to glide past, I brought it. Sitting on my towel, I gazed out over the blue water. Pelicans soared by every few minutes-
as seagulls circled overhead looking for left over crackers, sandwiches; pretty much anything they could get their beaks on. Like this one who stole an apple core from the family next to me.
Suddenly, I saw something shiny in the distance. It twinkled. It sparkled. Once Twice.
I walked to the water’s edge, adjusting my lens as I went until I could see -
A cormorant had caught lunch!
Ummmm – make that a four course meal!
What the-?? Did he really think he could swallow that?
The fish is bigger than he is!
And down . . .
down . . .
down . . .
. . . it goes!
I still have no idea where he put that fish!!
But he certainly has a self-satisfied smirk, doesn’t he?
So tell me, what photo would you have cut from that series!??
Early one March a few years ago, I was lake side, moaning and groaning out loud to Cookie because I hadn’t seen the eagles working on their nest or mating yet. I was so afraid we’d lost one over the winter. Or they’d found a better spot. Cookie sat patiently, listening. Eventually, I noticed she kept looking up into the trees. I followed her gaze, only to find one of the adult eagles on a branch above my head! He gave me a *silly-human!* look before flying off.
Ever since then, I make sure to look up during my hikes through the woods. Otherwise I might miss gorgeous finds like this sleeping fellow:
I froze in my tracks when I saw him, all thoughts of fox dens forgotten.
After a few clicks of the shutter, he opened his eyes and fixed them on me. I stayed as still as I could while snapping photo after photo. The sun dipped below the tree tops, just over his shoulder. My fingers were freezing.
Eventually, he had enough of my gawking, and flew off into the woods for some peace and quiet.
I just love surprises!!
Isn’t it? The weirdest winter ever?
I mean, there’s no snow! I’ve only been out on the snowshoes once, and truth be told, I didn’t reeeeee-ally need them.
There’s even bare ground by the lake’s edge, for goodness sake.
My Cookie and I took another walk this week. Once at the lake we walked on the ice and followed the shoreline.
Cookie raced ahead, then raced back whenever I stopped to listen to the quiet and look up for interesting subjects for the camera lens. Like this little guy.
Every time we head for the lake, I hope I’ll find my eagles sitting on a branch. One of my students lives further down the lake. He told me they see them quite often right now because they throw the “junk fish” they caught onto the ice.
“You should hear how their talons scrape on the ice as they walk across it for the fish,” he exclaimed.
Alas, all I saw was the empty nest.
But the Pileated Woodpecker was on the point again! I’ve seen him more in the last month than I have in all the twenty-one years I’ve been walking these woods.
It’s not a very clear photo, but can you see his tongue?
He kept a close watch on Cookie as she ran from tree to tree, sniffing the bare ground.
Eventually, Cookie and I continued on our way until we were home, where she immediately curled up on the rug and took a nap.
No napping allowed for me though. I have another round of revisions for Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest sitting on the laptop. Every revision has less and less to work on, but with every revision the plot gets tighter and the story stronger. I love the questions my editor asks!
Time to get back to it . . .
I just love surprises . . .
Last weekend some friends took me on a little walk into Perkins Cove. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a frigid day after a major snowstorm and I’d only brought my sneakers. I had no mittens. No hat.
But I did have my camera.
As we slowly made our way along the shoreline walkway, we saw duck-like birds bobbing on the water in the distance. I zoomed in. “Oooooooo!” I cried. “Winter loons!” I snapped a boat-load of photos even though the loons were only specks through my large lens.
We continued to follow the path, enjoying each others company. We rounded a corner to find a gorgeous after-a-snowstorm scene.
Everything was picture perfect.
Even the pudgy seagull seemed to be posing for me . . .
I heard a friend gasp- then call me to the top of the footbridge that would take us over the waterway. She pointed down.
Luckily, I have patient friends, for they hung out with me on the footbridge as I took photo after photo of the loon below us.
Reluctantly, we continued on our way, chatting, laughing until the cold worked its way through our coats. We stopped for coffee and treats, and when warmed up, headed home.
We spied a fox statue in a shop window. Thinking of Cooper and Packrat’s series and the plotting I’d done on the fox story just that day, I joked, “All I need is to see an eagle now!” Secretly though, I scanned the treetops. Alas, no eagle appeared.
As we crossed the footbridge again, I caught a gorgeous photo of what I now know is a male Common Eider -
Isn’t he striking?
A loon popped up out of the water nearby, a flash of orange caught my eye, so I trained my lens on it.
I’m not sure what it caught . . .
but it dunked it, rolled it and swished it before opening wide . . .
to swallow it whole!
Whatever it was, I hope it was good.
It was nice to watch the loons for awhile. In four short-ish months, they’ll arrive on Lower Range Pond and begin nesting once again. I wish Springtime would hurry up . . .
Since beginning teaching, I’ve tried hard to put writing into my daily routine. It seems the only time it can be “daily” is if I put it after supper. After school is camp work time. After that is treadmill time, then supper. Early, early mornings? . . . yeah, that isn’t happening.
See what I mean?
So, if it needs to be scheduled in after supper, I wanted to find a soothing, very low cal treat to have with it. Not coffee; caffeine at night doesn’t bother me, but it’s kind of heavy. Adult beverages would make me nod off.
When my nephew Chad chatted with me over Thanksgiving about his visits to a tea shop back in California, and he showed me the cool new cup he had for drinking loose leaf tea. I said, “Hmmmmm.” And when Alex put a loose leaf teapot on her Christmas list . . . well, I sat up and took notice.
After Christmas, I splurged on myself.
I bought this cute little teapot and cups. And after lots and lots of debating and searching and reading reviews, I finally chose some sample packs of loose leaf tea.
And quite by chance, it all arrived today . . . a welcome treat on an icy, rainy, windy day. On a day when I needed to huddle over my manuscript and fit back together the pieces of the plot puzzle I’d taken apart last week.
When my camp work was done, I unpacked it, put my loose tea leaves in the basket, poured the boiling water inside and stood back to let it steep.
It was then that my eyes fell on a couple of beautiful china tea cups which had been sitting on top of my fridge since David’s Uncle Donald had passed away a few years ago. Somehow, they’d ended up at my house after David had cleared out the remaining items in his. I believe they belonged to his sister, Peggo and perhaps even to her mother before that.
This one is so dainty. I love the deep bowl underneath. It has no handle . . .
and the inside is discolored from having held many, many servings.
This is another of my favorites. . .
mostly because of the little square chip opposite the handle which was so painstakingly glued back into place. Whoever this belonged to, they must have loved this particular cup very much to repair it.
I looked at the shiny, new, blue cups next to the teapot, then back at these two.
There was no contest.
With reverence, I chose the swan cup, although I promised the chipped cup I’d use it tomorrow night.
As I sipped my first steaming cup of creme tea, I tried to channel all the happy and sad conversations overheard by this cup, the quiet moments spent holding it, the decisions made while swirling its tea with a spoon.
Is it coincidence that I went on to not only solve a major dilemma in my storyline, but to make all my puzzle pieces fit and then finish my revisions?
I think not.
One day last week, as we drove between Middle and Lower Range Pond just minutes from home, my husband pointed out the passenger side window, “There’s the eagle.”
That’s all it took. We’d been gone for two days to a family function, had just spent four hours in the car, but I had my boots on in seconds.
It was a gray day. The snapping coldness of the air across the ice had the fog crawling in too. Still I lugged my camera, because, well, you just never know . . .
This was all I could see of my eagle. Even with my long lens. But it was enough to know he was there. And nearby. And hopefully thinking about nesting here again this year.
As I looked out over the frozen lake, I heard one sharp crack. Then another. I thought at first it was the ice moving, shifting.
After hearing it a couple more times, I walked toward the sound.
It wasn’t the ice at all. It was this guy . . .
Normally, Pileated Woodpeckers are very skittish. I’ve never been able to get close enough for a good photo, and if I had, they’d move around to the other side of the tree. This day though, it didn’t pay me any mind at all even though I crunched loudly in the icy snow with every step I took, working my way closer and closer still.
I think perhaps she knew we had the ice storm and two snowstorms on the way. Filling her belly with carpenter ants was more important than some wildlife stalker on the ground.
This is a female Pileated Woodpecker, because she has the yellow stripe before her beak. Males have a bright red stripe, like their crest.
Look at the work she’s done to this tree! The holes they make later become a nesting spot for other birds like Pine Martens, owls or bats.
I watched for quite awhile, until a group of cross country skiers came down the lake. Why they spooked her and I didn’t, I don’t know.
But I have a sneaky suspicion this Pileated Woodpecker will find it’s way into Cooper’s third adventure.
Over vacation, snowshoe season began. Cookie and I blazed a trail through the campground woods and along the lake’s edge. But we weren’t the first to cut a path through the newly fallen snow.
The fox had been through before us. He followed our hiking trail and circled the frozen over muskrat hut a couple times. I saw no signs that he’d caught anything though.
And of course, I aimed my camera everywhere . . .
Chickadee with a seed from the feeder
Raven slipping on icy branches
With snow in the forecast again, I’m looking forward to more snowshoeing over the coming weekend!
Funny how Christmas can derail you from your routine: Eating . . . blogging . . . sleeping . . . exercising and writing too.
But I told myself I had to get back on track right after the Wight Christmas. And that day is today. Not only is the campground about to start taking 2014 reservations, but I have a big job to do ~
It’s time to begin revising Cooper and Packrat: Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest.
I have Melissa’s notes. On my desk. All eleven pages of them.
When I showed my students the notes , they gasped and said, “You have homework over vacation?” I was quick to explain that I like revising! I love playing with the words and the characters to make the story just right. By the looks on their faces, I’m not sure I convinced them.
Digging in today, I was reminded of how much I love this new adventure of Cooper and Packrat!
And how I can’t wait to share it with all of you!
Shannon and I have begun the Survival Unit with this year’s students.
She always starts with a few articles, such as Aron Ralston’s incredible story of perseverance as he faced certain death, or a story about a real life encounter with a grizzly. Then we move onto researching the gear, tools and rules needed to survive in the wild.
When our students buy into the survival theme, we introduce the book we’ve chosen to study.
This year, it’s Lost Trail, the graphic novel by Donn Fendler and Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Ben Bishop. We passed out the books. Let the kids handle them. Flip through the pages.
Before we read a word though, Shannon showed photos of her climb up Mt. Katahdin, and traversing Knife’s Edge.
Then we began to read.
Immediately, our students were hooked!
A couple chapters in, we introduced researching shelter building. What kinds are there, when would you use them, what materials did you need to build them?
They made a plan.
Then we DID IT!
Behind the school are trails . . .
where our students happily built their shelters of choice.
They’ve made so very many connections to Lost Trail! And are especially loving Ben Bishop’s illustrations.
Wait until you see their Pamola’s . . .
I braved the cold today to check on the muskrats. Luckily, I had hand warmers, because it took about twenty minutes before I heard one moving around in and out of the bushes on the shoreline. Finally, it scooted into some branches further off shore where I could see him.
I hit the button to take several photos, when he stopped nibbling, went still and listened.
You have to wonder, was he thinking, “Don’t tell me the stalker is back again!”
I snapped a couple more photos and he looked right at me.
I snapped a couple more and whoosh . . .
he was gone.
I did get a very good look at his tail though, and all doubts over whether he was a small beaver or a muskrat are gone. The tail was rat like.
Muskrat it is!
Late yesterday afternoon the sun peeked out of the clouds, just before the it dipped below the treetops. I waffled on taking a walk with the camera. It was getting dark. It was chilly. I had things I should be doing.
But I went. Because I hadn’t taken a walk in like, forever.
And I discovered something new . . .
I was standing still, very still, watching a pair of robins feasting on fall berries, when I heard the sound of water moving. As if something was swimming. I tiptoed between the crunchy leaves until I had a clear view through the bushes and gasped.
I’d found muskrat’s getting their den ready for winter. Right. Off. Shore.
I watched the pair for forty minutes or more, swimming out into the lake a few feet, then coming back to the hut to drop things on top of it.
I wish the light had been better.
When I pushed down on the camera button, it sound like Cli . . . . . ick.
There were two of them, Muskrat Susie and Muskrat Sam perhaps? (Okay, that dates me just a little bit)
You can bet I’ll be going lakeside again tomorrow. This time, I’ll go a little earlier AND bring my monopod to stabilize the camera in low light.
I want to catch some sharp clear pictures of these two before they winter up.
And since I’m about to embark on Cooper’s third adventure, the research wouldn’t hurt either.
GNG Middle School Rocks!
I met with Mrs. Hodge and Mrs. Carbonneau’s classes a few weeks ago. They are taking part in Maine Botanical Gardens’ conservation program, and Cooper and Packrat fit in nicely with it.
I brought my descriptive language presentation, as it ties in with the reading portion of the grant. Using passages from Cooper and Packrat along with photos from the up-close-hands-on-research which inspired them, I showed the difference between “telling” the reader something and “showing”. We practiced ‘how to describe’, using Packrat’s Coat game. then took some boring ‘ol sentences and jazzed them up.
What an imaginative, creative class they were!
Afterward, I was presented with illustrations and notes inspired from their classroom reading.
This past summer, our loons nested twice, but each time the eggs didn’t hatch. I think the cold, heavy rain was to blame, and I always feel badly for the loons when this happens. I used those feelings in my writing so you would connect with the loons too.
By the way, I’m hoping for two babies next year!
Loon illustration gifts are always such a treat. I love the red eye detail.
What a perfect entrance sign for Wilder Family Campground!
I wanted that s’more scene to be perfect, so I made a vow. Even if I had to eat two hundred and fifty two s’mores in the name of research, so every word could be perfectly placed, and my readers would feel like they were eating those ooey-gooey marshmallow-y treats themselves, well . . . then . . . . I’d make that sacrifice.
It was worth every bite.
This sign made me smile!
Such a sad loon . . . this illustration has a picture book feel to it. Very clever!
The picture above and the two below brought me right back to any given night in July or August. The smell of the wood smoke, and the crackle of sparks. Scary stories being told as marshmallows are twirled near the campfire’s orange yellow flames. And when you least expect it, you hear the wail of the loon.
I hear Mrs. Hodge’s students were quite upset with her for leaving them with Chapter 22′s cliffhanger ending last Friday. And right before a long weekend too! Oh, the horror! How could she do that to you???
Keep up the great work, Mrs. Hodge and Mrs. Carbonneau’s classes!
A few weeks ago, I visited Ms. McPherson’s class in Buxton, Maine. I gave them a presentation on descriptive writing, showed them how I research to get all the little details just right, and we played a game to illustrate why it’s so important in the stories we write and share.
The students gave *me* amazing Thank You letters and illustrations inspired by Cooper and Packrat.
I love the rainy day details, and the soft hoot of the loon from off page
Why, yes! I AM going to write more! Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest will be out next August. A draft of it is sitting on my editors desk right now.
Where do I write these books? Good question! And one I don’t think I answered while I visited. I write anywhere and everywhere I can! Sometimes in the backyard in the summer, hotel rooms (if I’m on the road), the living room if it’s quiet, in school with my students. But mostly, at my desk, in my house . . .
Isn’t this adorable? An origami loon.
I love books too! I have piles of them in the house and have been known to sneak up to 10 books in my suitcase when we go on vacation.
” . . . nature, wildlife, friendship and family”. Exactly! That’s Cooper and Packrat in a nutshell.
I LOVE loons! There are photos on my bathroom wall. Statues sit on my desk. Carl DiRocco’s lovely art hangs on my office wall. I giant loon photo hangs behind the campground registration desk. I have a loon bedspread AND a loon cookie jar.
I’m a little loon crazy.
(Don’t you love how the loons are looking at the questions?)
Other outdoor books? Have you read Hoot by Carl Hiaasen? It’s all about kids who save owls. Or how about Touch Blue, by Cindy Lord, which is about Maine Island life and lobstering.
I HAVE seen loon chicks, and they are the most adorable things! Sadly, our loons didn’t have babies last year, so I wasn’t able to take photos personally, but here’s one taken by a camper friend of mine . . .
The feelings came from deep down inside, which is why I don’t have a favorite character. It’s kind of like asking a Mom which of her kids she loves best. We love them all!
And yes, even Mr. Beakman, um, I mean, Mr. Bakeman.
Thank YOU for reading and studying Mystery on Pine Lake . . .
I created a Pintrest board.
Or two . . .
Okay. five! Five Pintrest boards in all.
One board for Cooper and Packrat’s images from launches and signings and Carl’s illustrations.
The second board is for Cooper and Packrat inspiration. Photos of loons, campground life and kids hanging out at Poland Spring Campground. I was hoping teachers would find it helpful for writing prompts and such.
There’s the board for Cooper and Packrat as it’s being used in the classroom. Here I’d like teachers to share the ways in which they’ve integrated the book into their curriculum. Mostly recently, Nancy Cooper, teacher and author, shared a Cooper and Packrat crossword puzzle.
I’ve posted some of my favorite books and movies too, of course. I especially liked how my childhood books are now labeled as vintage.
These are the books who shaped my reading and writing childhood.
If you’re on Pintrest, follow me! Let me know how you’re liking or using Cooper and Packrat.
Otherwise, I’ll just be procrastinating by searching for the newest, yummiest, s’more recipe.
This is the last weekend of the 2013 camping season. Where has the time gone? As always, there’s a mixed bag of emotions involved. I’m sad to see close friends, my parents and my campers leave .. .
but glad to get weekends off to walk the property . . .
Sad not to have groups of people around my campfire . . .
but glad to have family time again . . .
Sad not to have little campers stand at the counter and talk to me about books, wildlife, and other kid-like interests . . .
but very, very glad to gain some writing time!
Cooper and Packrat’s second book has a working title now. Cooper and Packrat: Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest. It makes it all the more real somehow to have settled on that. I’m 95% done with the revisions to it, the last of these based on a talented friend’s critique. It should be in my editor’s hands by the end of the month. She’s going to send me some revision notes (Yikes!) and I’ll revise again.
And probably again.
And maybe one more quick revision.
Then I’ll start research for a new book!
Buuuuut, I’m getting ahead of myself here.
I’ve been assisting the very knowledgeable Shannon Shanning Maine’s 2013 Teacher of the Year) as she creates a curriculum guide for Mystery on Pine Lake. It’s incredible! A chapter by chapter guide for educators, complete with the common core standards it covers. I’m putting the finishing touches on it now and will post it under the Teacher heading very soon.
You’ll also be glad to hear the trail camera is going out next week, too. Last year I caught the fox family, some squirrels, a fischer and a neighbor (walking the trail). This year I hope to catch much more, as I’ve been watching for signs and I’m more aware of where things are happening on the outer reaches of the property.
With the camp closing, I’m going to have more time to post here, too. Come back often so I can update you on where I’ll be with Cooper and Packrat and what’s happening with book two.
I was humbled and amazed by the number of people who showed up for Cooper and Packrat’s launch. As I told the crowd, I really thought we’d have 20 or 30, not counting David’s parents and my parents.
It seems I underestimated by just a little bit.
I never would have imagined I could fit 130+ on my front lawn! Teaching colleagues, campers, friends, writing colleagues, wildlife lovers, and of course, family.
I was grateful to have each and every one of you there!
Carl DiRocco and his family camped with us over the weekend leading up to the launch. I really enjoyed meeting him, Gina and the boys in person.
On Sunday, he and Melissa Kim arrived at the launch , just as some early launch-goers gathered to make a toast before the big event . . .
A huge thank you to my friend and recreation director extraordinaire, Debbie Letourneau , for organizing it! Just what I needed . . .
All too soon it was to time for Melissa to get the show rolling.
I was a nervous wreck . . . shaking in my boots . . . well, flip flops. But Melissa began with her reasons for choosing Cooper and Packrat. Then she went on to announce it had been chosen by the Junior Library Guild! We were going into a second printing!
When it was my turn to speak I remembered my daughter’s words of wisdom: “Don’t cry!”
I came close, as I glanced at my husband in the beginning. But I managed to blink the tears back.
Shannon, the teacher in who’s room I teach, knows how much I enjoy reading out loud. She predicted that once I was a couple paragraphs in, that love would overtake the nervousness of having so many people I know and love in the audience.
She was absolutely right.
And to see some of them reading along, their lips moving silently . .. .
well, the feeling was indescribable, really.
After me, Carl presented in a big way!
He showed everyone how he created the cover and the inspiration he used in its development.
And then it was time for the kids activities!
Carl had brought blank Cooper and Packrat covers for the kids to create their own.
We saw some very talented artists in the crowd!
And my amazing and very giving Poland Spring recreation staff (Debbie, MJ, Maggie and Ron) manned a campfire so the attendees could roast marshmallows for the s’more smorgasbord
There were three different kinds of graham crackers, umpteen different kinds of candy bars and some of my mother’s very special, very secret recipe punch.
And while that was all happening, Carl and I happily signed books.
And signed books . . .
And signed books . . .
Toward the end of the line, were some very special friends of mine. Friends who encouraged, kicked me in the butt, and helped edit Cooper and Packrat along the way.
My writing group, the Schmoozers. So glad you were there!
All in all, I sold every one of the six cases I’d brought home with me two weeks ago. I remember thinking it was probably overkill, but I didn’t want to run out. Instead, I ended up having to purchase more from Islandport so I’d be sure to have them through the Fall!
As always, the best part of the day was talking to so many young readers, students and campers.
At one point, just before the signing, two young campers who’d spent the weekend chatting with me in the store, approached me:
“Tami, who’s the writer?”
They were speechless for a second. “YOU wrote THIS!”
Why, yes, yes I did.
Whew, it’s been awhile since I posted, but Cooper’s second adventure needed to be written in spite of a busy campground and school starting. Every spare minute went to his and Packrat’s story. I’m happy to report it’s done.
Okay, it’s not totally done. The first draft is done. Before I dig into the many revisions to come, and while it’s being read by a keen eye for feedback, I finally got a chance to take my camera on the trails.
I’d been itching to go since I’d had a wildlife tip from one of my young campers, “Where were you all day, Tami!” he’d said, early Sunday morning. “It was RIGHT THERE!”
The blue heron he was talking about wasn’t quite “right there” by the time I got lakeside. I followed the trail, in hopes of seeing something, anything. But then I stumbled upon him wading silently amongst the lily pads . . .
I quickly crouched down to hide behind a small bush. He’d seen me though, and we stayed still, staring at each other for at least ten minutes. Him measuring me. Me willing him to stay put long enough to take a couple pictures.
Stay, he did.
He even started preening, feather by feather.
I took over two hundred photos of this gorgeous juvenile heron.
When I had enough, I thanked him quietly. Then we both left.
I hope I meet him again sometime.
I’m such a lucky author. Not only can I boast of having fabulous camping friends and customers. But I live and work in the most amazing community ever! For weeks now, students, community members and colleagues from RSU 16 have cheered for Cooper and Packrat’s release. People I don’t even know, have congratulated me on the street.
This past week, our principal declared Thursday, September 19th, Tami Wight Day. (I still turn red whenever I think of it!) A challenge was put forth for staff and students to dress in “camp clothes” or in loon colors. What fun we had with that!
And on Thursday night, my colleagues put together the most precious Cooper and Packrat celebration . . .
The ambiance was set with shrubs, mums, and a kayak on loan from Shaker Hill Nursery on Route 26. Tents were borrowed from teaching friends. And voila!, we had a camping atmosphere!
There was a Meet The Author station, with the help of Mrs. Ustach’s students. They interviewed me during the school day, asking amazing questions, and then created this board which I can now take to ALL my signings. One of my favorite questions . . .
“If you could be a Super Hero, what would you be?”
Of course, we had book sales . . .
The s’more smorgasbord was a hit! As were the craft tables. Carl DiRocco had left behind some blank book covers for the kids to create their own illustrations. You can see several of the artists work on my Facebook page. You could create your own loon or do a Cooper and Packrat word search.
And of course, I had plenty of time to chat with some of my favorite people!
Soon enough, Mr. Vincent was introducing me (more blushing involved) and it was time for my favorite part of a signing/celebration.
I got to read aloud.
And this time, I read with my wildlife and campground photographs displayed behind me.
While I read, many attendees followed along in their newly purchased books. Although not ALL of them did it in style, like this young man!
It was a great turnout! I met new people, saw some old friends and was able to connect with some of the students who were already reading Cooper and Packrat in their RSU 16 classrooms.
We also raffled off some Cooper and Packrat books, as well as a loon statue. To close the night though, Ms. Purdy, our BMW and PRHS librarian, had a special contest.
A loon calling contest!
I wish I had photos for you, but to be honest, my husband was sooooo caught up in practicing his own loon call, that he forgot to take pictures! What a fun time we had, though!
I started to list everyone who’d helped, but was afraid I’d forget someone in the process. So let me just give a huge thank you to the staff and friends at RSU 16 who helped to make it possible.
Cooper, Packrat and I thank you for an extraordinary night . . .
Over my Writer’s Camp ‘n Schmooze weekend, two of my friends, Cindy and Mona, went kayaking in the early morning hours to watch the sunrise. They asked me to go too, but I was sooooo tired from juggling teaching, writing and camp, I decided to get the extra couple hours of sleep instead.
After seeing their photos and hearing about how they’d seen the fall loons . . . well, I’ve been regretting that decision ever since.
So when my friend Linda arrived for the weekend, I asked, “Want to see a sunrise tomorrow?”
Of course she said yes . . .
But there was no sunrise. The fog was thick. It danced across the water toward us, around us. It clung to everything . . .
It made it hard to take photos of the ducks and geese, which have begun to gather for their trip south.
We followed the sound of the loons mournful cry to find them.
My how they’ve changed!
Loons molt in September, changing from their brilliant black and white colors to a gray, not unlike a juveniles. After they fly to their winter home, they’ll molt again, this time becoming flightless for a time until their new feathers grow in and they return north.
We watched them for awhile . . . fishing and preening. Then we continued down toward the state park.
Right on the park’s shoreline, we saw a duck-like bird we didn’t recognize. Five of them. Diving, coming back up with little minnows, chasing each other.
It turns out it’s a common grebe! I believe these are all females. They were interesting to watch. A new birding find!
As we headed for home, the fog lifted and the sun came out.
It was going to be a glorious day . . .
but we’d already seen the best part of it.
I have a copy of Cooper and Packrat signed by not just little ‘ol me . . .
. . . but by the amazing Carl DiRocco too!
I’m looking to add it to somebody’s bookshelf! All you have to do to put your name in the basket, is to:
1) Share this blog post link on your Facebook wall (you can share the Facebook announcement from my Tamra Wight-Children’s Author wall, if it’s easier)
2) Reply to this blog post with your ultimate combination of s’more ingredients
Is it chocolate graham crackers, a marshmallow, and a York Peppermint Patty?
How about cinnamon grahams, with a chocolate marshmallow and a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup?
Three grahams and two marshmallows?
Or perhaps you find it hard to resist a classic s’more?
Do you like a cold marshmallow between the layers? Or a warm, drippy, gooey one to melt the chocolate?
On October 4th, names on the replies posted below will be thrown into a basket and shaken up. The winning name will be chosen by a slightly sticky marshmallow.
The deadline for entry is Thursday, October 3rd . . . midnight . . . my time.
The deadline has passed! I will be drawing the winner tonight after supper!
I just need to find a sticky marshmallow to draw the winning name . . .
I wonder where I can find one of those?
Hmmmmmm . . .
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All through school, the appointment afterward and supper, I kept thinking about drawing the name for the Cooper and Packrat Giveaway.
As promised, all the names went into the bag, along with a slightly sticky marshmallow. I made sure the bag was full of air . . .
and I shook it!
This was the lucky, winner!
Neil, message me through Facebook (or e-mail me) with your address and I’ll get your copy right out to you.
Thanks to everyone for playing!