From time to time, you charming people, you perusers of periodicals, you informed intellectuals and havers of humor, will reach your own pen to paper and fingers to keyboard, sharing with me your personal thoughts and stories.
For this I want to say: Thank you. Every anecdote of dog and firewood and well-digging – tragedy brings me a step closer to humanity, for a writer’s life is a strange externalization of experience. It’s lonely in my studio on a rainy day. Your prose visits bring great company and companionship. Also, it’s good to know I am not the only human with a crazy brown dog.
This week, I wanted to take a moment to honor how inspirational you are in your encouragement and the occasional constructive criticism (or sometimes less constructive) and respond directly.
To the reader that is not so outdoorsy but embraces this column with an open mind and a desire to expand their horizons: May you be blessed with courage, sturdy trekking poles, and a tireless sense of adventure. In my experience, all three of these can be needed more commonly than expected, whether we are venturing across a parking lot, a mountain traverse, or navigating Black Friday sales.
To the reader who posts me singular expletives: Though I find your communication basic, it nevertheless inspires me to continue developing my language skills should I ever endeavor to write a book about a sailor who has just discovered he’s contracted gonorrhea on shore leave.
To the gardeners, the hunters, the varmint trappers, the stink bug squashers: It is you I thank for my survival in my backwoods cabin. Were it not for your steady stream of advice, tips and tricks, and delightfully barbaric suggestions for slaughtering mice, I surely would have been carried off by the creatures of the forest by now. Or moved to the suburbs (a far worse fate, no doubt).
To the articulate writer who confused my use of the word talus with the talus bone of the foot: While your anatomy is correct, since the 17th century Merriam-Webster also defines talus as 1) a sloping mass of rock fragments at the foot of a cliff. If you supply a postal address, I would be pleased to supply you with a dictionary of a more contemporary representation of the English language. It may make reading my columns less ‘torturous.’ But probably not.
To the youth who still read newspapers: If ever you were to make an investment in your future, reading is a guaranteed profit return.
To the aging, the arthritic-of-knee, the memory-sharers, the when-I-did-that-twenty-years-ago readers: You have paved the way, pioneered a planet and community that celebrates the outdoors, and graciously gifted me and others with your legacy and lands. I humbly accept, and will continue to share my love of it.
To the reader who hasn’t written yet but promises me book deals, a future of imaginative and creative productivity, and a steady stream of affirming letters from the public: Please feel free to send me a letter any time.
And to Sanchez – who texts me random excerpts – and Purple Grandma, who apparently has a scrap book of my dog stories, and the people who sip their coffee over their print: I am honored to be an occasional part of your mornings and conversations. To all of you, Thank You. The little slices of your lives that you share bring me joy every day.
Ammi Midstokke can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org