I’m sitting by a creek–Mill Creek?–in a tucked-away forest preserve just outside Dexter, MI, which I decided to explore this afternoon because I felt the tug of the woods on my heart. I don’t do spontaneous wanderings like this much anymore–too busy working on various projects, I suppose. Publishing a novel will do that to you.

I almost didn’t come today, because I had a rather lonely week and I was anxious to spend time with people. But…I’m glad I came. I’m not lonely in the woods. There are too many things to see and hear and pay attention to. The voice of the creek, a faint rushing noise like wind through cottonwood leaves from a distance, and growing sharper, more liquid and bell-like on approach. The light seeping green-brown-gold through the stirring pools. The damselflies flicking from rock to rock with their needle-thin, jewel-bright bodies and black silk wings. Sometimes I think there are few things more elegant in this world than a damselfly. But it is hard to see at them. They do not sit still for more than a few seconds, and they are extremely sensitive to movement. Try to sneak a closer look, and they flit instantly out of reach.

And now a spot of unbelievably bright orange–a scarlet tanager, if my mental catalogue of bird species is not failing me–alights in one of the swift-running pools between the rocks to flutter and bathe for a moment. Ruby red with neat black wings–a gem of a bird.

I haven’t had the urge to write like this in a long time. I have been shying away from self-reflection as from an unpleasant chore. But today…I don’t know. Here by the running water I don’t feel the need to be anxious or guilty or hurried about…well, anything. As if my mind finally has a moment to settle into itself, content, without reaching or striving. A rare kind of moment. I can think better by the water.

(I wish I had a picture of the damselflies. But as I mentioned, they don’t sit still. So you will just have to imagine them.)