My blogging buddies are walking. Tori at The Ramblings and Lisa from Woman Wielding Words are joining Andra Watkins (The Accidental Cootchie Mama) on the Natchez Trace. Andra has spent the month walking the 444 mile Trace to promote her book: To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis.
Yes, that’s the Lewis from Lewis and Clark. He died, under questionable circumstances, along the Natchez Trace. Andra’s book is an engaging character study in a genre that defies description. In some ways it’s a historical novel, given the main character of Meriwether Lewis and a few guest appearances from people who could be his contemporaries. In flashbacks we learn about the parts of Lewis’ story that don’t get as much attention in grade school.
Much of the motivation of the story comes from what happened to Lewis after the expedition that put him in our history books. He was made governor of the Louisiana Territory, replacing a career politician who wasn’t happy about losing his post. A desk job didn’t suit him as well as leading an adventure into the wilderness.
In some ways this book is a ghost story. It is set in 1977 and Meriwether Lewis is sent back to “make things right.” The afterlife mythos is curious and complicated. Meriwether truly believes that because his death was deemed suicide he is forgotten by history. He was traveling the Trace in part to take his journals from the expedition to a publisher, but he never made it. But there is also a mission, something he is sent back to do. It seems he is destined to intervene in the life of a little girl.
Em is a plucky and precocious young girl. A native of New Orleans, her parents were recently divorced and her father forbidden to contact her. He’s a musician and Em’s hero. Her mother is not a nice person. She’s running a brothel and has essentially sold Em off for her divorce. When Em learns her mother’s plans for her future she becomes determined to find her father who has moved to Nashville. Running away she literally runs into Lewis and the partnership is formed.
The Natchez Trace runs from the Mississippi river in Natchez to Nashville. It was an important trade route, It aided the western expansion, it was a supply line during the 1812 war and it was a road familiar to Meriwether Lewis. Em and Lewis making their way along the Trace is the setting for the bulk of the story. It’s a road trip adventure novel.
I really enjoyed the book and I don’t care that it doesn’t fit neatly into a single genre. Andra’s writing style is clear and witty and well crafted. Her research into Meriwether Lewis and the history of the Trace is apparent but not intrusive. The pencil sketch illustrations by Helen Rice are beautiful and very reminiscent of the kind of sketches Lewis made in his own journals. I highly recommend it.
Oh, and if you get a chance get out and take a walk. I’ve threatened to take a walk in solidarity. Andra is going 15 miles a day and has been for a month. Tori and Lisa are going to do what they can, but don’t really expect to make it half way. I’ll be lucky to make it to the mailbox, but we do what we can. Have a great week!
At the end of winter the season gets boring. I have my conveniently placed birthday to provide a little relief, but there is still the whole of March. While much of the country is keeping an eye out for actual signs of spring we might see snowdrops before April in a really early year. So how do we “keep the faith” that spring will come again?
Living in an age of hot houses and shipping there’s a lot to be said for fresh flowers brightening up the house. Come May I’ll be outside with my clippers looking at lilacs and apple blossoms. Now I have to go to the store for tulips. I’ve tried to force bulbs myself. Apparently I have a talent for mold.
We’re having a little bit of a thaw this week. It’s encouraging and there is more activity from the wildlife in the area. The turkeys are actually up at my folks house. The deer, turkeys, coyote, skunk, groundhog, and an occasional bear are the neighbors who occasionally stop by to visit.
In a long harsh winter the wildlife can become very creative in their hunt for food. They are aware the people in the area have abundance. Many of the animals have learned my parents routine. In the summer the hummingbirds are clearly irritated when someone is late putting out the feeders. The turkey has learned that the dining room is vacant at 11am every day. My Mom is watching her soap opera.
He takes advantage of that little window to hop up on the porch and steal from the chickadees. The squirrels do it too. I don’t have photo’s but it was a days worth of laughter to watch a squirrel jump onto the turkey’s back to chase him away from the feeder. The chickadees put up with all this nonsense and feed to their hearts content while Mom and Dad putter in the kitchen.
While the wildlife may be entertaining, sometimes I want to totally escape the winter. That when I sit in the sunlight with a good book. To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is the fictional work of a blogging buddy Andra Watkins. She’s currently walking the Natchez Trace, where much of the book takes place. I’m following her journey on her blog, but the internet isn’t as satisfying as disappearing into an actual book.
My new book, When Gods Come Knocking: An Exploration of Mysticism From a Deity-Based Perspective, is out as well. I’m not curled up with that one. I am busy preparing for its “official launch” this weekend at Paganicon in Minneapolis. My publisher (Taylor Ellwood at Immanion Press) is coming out and we’re doing a book signing along with our respective workshop presentations. Having something to look forward too always makes the days a little brighter.
In the meantime we’re enjoying the break in the weather. It’s an unseasonably warm 50 degrees Fahrenheit today! Maybe a walk is a possibility!