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June 16th, 2010

Farewell to Devon

It was grand.

We walked.  We talked.  We had dinner with (it seemed) half the population of the town.  I made stew with a hunk o' venison freshly provided by the folks at Castle Drogo, the local 19th C. Gothik Extravaganza and a lovely bottle of Cahors wine.  Theo replaced the hinges on the kitchen cabinets and made shelves for the glass-fronted cabinet so we could get all the mugs into it instead of just 6.  Ellen, Holly, and Terri Border-ized all the stories and went over all the copy edits, while I read Stephen King's On Writing and Anne Bernays's What If, took notes for exercises and story prompts, and read (devoured, would be more accurate) my ARC of Kathe Koja's novel Under the Poppy, which will be coming out soon from Small Beer Press.

Except for a couple of chilly, rainy days, we had real Sucker Weather--blue skies, dotted with fluffy white clouds, moderate temperatures, neither too hot nor too chill, the occasional shower falling only when we were safely under someone's roof, eating something delicious, so that we'd come out to the sun glancing off wet, shiny streets or a sky full of stars and the smell of wet grass.  I actually overexposed a bunch of pictures, which is not usually a problem when I visit England, believe you me.  The ones that came out best are all of the churchyard, lichen and grey stones for days. 

I really need to figure out the whole posting photos thing.  I know it's perfectly easy, but so is riding a bicycle.  For those who can do it at all.

Two memories before I stop. 

Standing on the hill behind Terri's cabin with Ellen, watching the cloud shadows chasing each other over the fresh, green, bracken-covered slopes of Meldon Hill opposite, panting a little from the climb up a very steep path, pleased we've made it almost to the top, and not inclined to go the last (increasingly steep) 100 yards or so.  It looks like the Shire, like Narnia, my Land of Heart's Desire, and for a moment, I'm purely, absolutely, soaringly happy.

Sitting around a very small table in the very small kitchen of Elizabeth-Jane Baldry, harpist, film-maker, sweetheart of the universe.  We have just eaten chicken and curried onions and rice pilaf and broccoli and drunk a bottle of lovely white wine and talked about fairies, folkloric and Victorian, making films with children, Cornish fairytales, and what a day at the beach consists of when the beach in question is on the English Channel (not swimming, not even if you're 20, as Elizabeth-Jane's son is).  Elizabeth-Jane clears the table (nobody else can get up--there isn't enough room), and then brings out something that looks like a small, silver bomb.  This is a thoroughly modern steamed pudding pot, and we all watch in wonder while she cracks it open and out pops (with some urging) a beautiful yellow sponge pudding permeated with golden syrup.  And we eat it, with the candles flickering on our faces and the words Elizabeth-Jane has written on her kitchen wall, quotations from Wilde and Woolfe and I don't remember who else about writing and art and music.

And now my brain is telling me that it nearing the end of its quota of words for the day, and I had better stop before. . . .

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