If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

I’m not the one moving, and yet it seems as though I’m leaving a piece of myself behind. My ninety-two-year old mother is moving from Greece, New York, a suburb of Rochester, where she has lived since 1959. With the exception of breaks for college (her B.A and Dad’s advanced degrees) she’s been in the Rochester area since 1936. It’s not a move she wants to make, rather one her children decided was necessary to provide her better support.

I called the Rochester area home (with two years out while Dad got his PhD from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. where I learned to talk Southern, y’all) until March 1972 when I moved to New Jersey for my first professional job. I’ve periodically returned to visit my parents and for a couple of high school reunions. However, even a generous count of my time back in town might reach one percent of the 16,000+ days since I left home—not exactly making me a poster child for staying strongly connected with the area.

So why my feeling of loss? I don’t think it has anything to do with people. I still have one sister who lives in the area, so not all family connections are severed. None of my close friends have lived in town since shortly after our college days, so that’s not it.

It’s not an attachment to the old family homestead. My parents sold that decades ago and moved to a condo and sold that ten years ago and moved into independent living. I’ve driven past the house I grew up in. It looks much the same, although the trees are much larger—or missing—and there is nothing there that tugs at my heartstrings.

And it’s not Lake Ontario I miss. We now live on a small inland lake not far from Lake Superior, and I never spent much time on or around the lake in any event.

That only leaves the surrounding landscape.

Driving from Michigan, we cross through Canada and reenter the U.S. at Lewiston, N.Y. Mapping software would have us drive south on interstates to the Thruway (I-90), then drive east, and finally back north. I chose the alternate route of taking NY-104 directly east. It follows a ridge all the way from the Niagara Escarpment well past Rochester. On the north, it quickly drops from the ridge to a plain that runs to Lake Ontario. To the south are the long rolling hills that lead to the Finger Lakes and then down to the Southern Tier.

Apples, pears, and cherry trees still dot the landscape. Fields of wheat, corn, and vegetables now share the landscape with vineyards. There are more fallow fields and fewer dairy cows than there used to be, resulting in more tree lots. The small towns remain much as they were fifty years ago, although many hollowed out by the loss of industry are now making up for the loss by importing commuters to nearby cities.

On our drive through Michigan’s Mitten, we pass through Genesee County. That’s a bit curious because the Genesee River is a major river in New York, not Michigan. Flowing north, it drains a large swathe of Western New York into Lake Ontario through a series of falls in Rochester, the falls that made Rochester the original “Flour City” when upstate New York was the breadbasket of the country. Many town names in that portion of Michigan had been lifted by their settlers from New York, just as many Massachusetts town names were hauled across the sea from native England.

We carry the names from our landscapes with us, a reminder of where we’ve been, what we’ve left behind, perhaps what we wish to recreate. When I close my eyes and reimagine the road trips I’ve taken through the general area in which I grew up, the hills and valleys, rivers and lakes, towns and cities are burned into my memory.

I think I’m sad that I’ll not have a built-in reason to wander the area again. Having written this, I’m now smiling because no matter where I am, it’s the landscape I think of as home.

~ Jim


E. B. Davis said...

I have few ties to my hometown in PA. What I miss about the region is the cows. I grew up in house that faced a dairy farm. Here on Hatteras, there are no cows. We have horses and chickens (with crowing roosters), but I like the sound of cows mooing in the distance. It's been forty years since I lived next door to cows. They were great neighbors (except for the peeping Tom one who escaped).

Stay in Michigan for another week, Jim, and watch Hurricane Matthew's path.

Jim Jackson said...

EB - My grandparents lived across from a cow pasture and I enjoyed my visits there and the lowing (sp?) of the cows. During one of my stints in New Jersey I lived next to a cow pasture, but with several acres of tall brush between us. I could see them from the upstairs window on that side, but they were generally too far to hear. They would break out at least once a year and I'd find them fertilizing the back yard.

Margaret Turkevich said...

We've lived in many places and like Shari, home is where the dishes are in the cupboard, my laptop on the kitchen table.

After fifteen years in Atlanta, it always feels good to return to the South: crepe myrtles and mockingbirds, sweet tea and pecan pancakes, a friendlier, slower pace of life.

Grace Topping said...

I can understand your "feeling" for the landscape. When we drive home to central Pennsylvania to visit family, I'm in awe of the Allegheny mountains that encompass my home town. I took them so much for granted when I lived there and with each visit I miss them more.

Kait said...

Didn't know there was a Genesee County in Michigan! Greece sounds like a wonderful place. Very upstate New York. Seems to me I remember picking apples there when I was a kid. My mother's family is from upstate. The air smelled like wine in the fall when apple season started.

EB, where I live now we have cattle pastures around - the lowing is soothing, but when the wind shifts (which fortunately is not common)... We too have annual escapes. I must say, cows are great detail landscapers!

Warren Bull said...

A landscape can evoke emotion and memories. I remember the drive to my grandparents' farm in Iowa. To retrace the roads would be emotional.

Jim Jackson said...

Margaret -- you and Kait probably have a better coping strategy with the home is where the dishes are. (A comedian once said home was where they had to take you in!)

Grace -- The Alleghenies are marvelous remnants of what was once a massive mountain range.

Warren - On Mom's last full day in the area we drove down south to the family cemetery so she could see Dad's grave once more. On the way back we drove past my grandparent's old farm -- so much changed, only those of us with long memories or brownie camera pictures can recall what once was pasture or orchard or woods.

Linda Thorne said...

This was beautifully written and I think most of us can identify, but in very different ways - different homes - different family members. It's still the same type of feelings.

Jim Jackson said...

Thank you, Linda.

KM Rockwood said...

We just got back from a trip to Mackinac Island in Michigan, and we made it a point to drive by the house we used to own in Albion, the college where my husband used to work and the vacant field that used to be Union Steel, the occupational setting for my fictional Jesse Damon. I used to work the welding equipment, steel platers and forklifts there on the midnight to eight shift.

We discovered after the left the house that it was supposedly haunted. It showed up in a book called "Haunted Houses of Michigan." We hadn't thought much about it at the time, but after we read the book, we began to remember all the odd things that had happened there, from lost items that reappeared in places we were sure we'd already looked, the times someone, usually the dog, slipped on the stairs, to be "caught" by an unseen force, and the "angels" my younger daughter claimed visited her frequently before she fell asleep (which I chalked up to imaginary friends, of which she had two. Or were they not imaginary?)