My good friend and fellow writer Denise Brown, has been working on a piece about me for The North Star Journal. She asked me to describe my early life and a curious thing came out, something I'd never realized until this project began.
I didn't grow up in a bookish home, but I can vividly recall my first story hour at the library. Sitting there on the floor I was immediately hooked on the story, Bartholomew Cubbins and the 500 Hats, and room, a whole room full of books. When my father came home I pointed out the word 'the' in the paper he was reading. It probably took a few weeks at least, but it seems that words and reading clicked for me, right then and there.
I realized when I answered Denise's question that it might have clicked a little too soon since I wasn't able to discern what was real and what wasn't. Not a problem really and in so many ways, this blurring of the lines between fact and fiction has enriched my life beyond description. It's left me open to possibilities that have let my imagination go to strange and wonderful places without that pesky anchor of reality hanging around my ankles.
This morning a woman pulled up in her car on the trail's parking area and reminded me that we'd met two years ago on the same trail. This woman, also named Joyce, who will be referred to as Joyce.2 to avoid confusion, had been lost on the trail two years ago. The trail is barely two miles long and it's virtually impossible to get lost, but lost she was.
I recall walking into the trail that day with some concern. In the parking area was a car with the driver's side door hanging open. I didn't fear for my safety, but I couldn't help but wonder if someone had stolen the car or if someone was ill. I checked around the car, closed the door and started my hike. About halfway through the trail I met this woman, this Joyce.2 and her dog. I immediately asked if she was okay and she said she was, but wanted to know why I asked. I told her about the car door being left open, something she didn't realize she'd done, then we introduced ourselves.
After we got over the fact that we shared a name, she told me that she'd gotten turned around somehow and wasn't sure where she was on the trail, a trail she was familiar with. I told her that pretty much the same thing had happened to me a year before. I mentioned that this particular hill has something of a reputation for weirdness, but didn't elaborate. We admired each others dogs, walked out and that was the end of it.
But this morning, we talked about it again. Joyce.2 is up here for a few weeks every summer and she started asking questions around the village about Barr Hill and the trail's reputation. She'd been told it was a power point, maybe a portal and I had to admit I'd heard the same things, but the things I'd heard were more nebulous. I told her about the biggest talker in our village and how even he wouldn't say much about Barr Hill.
Joyce.2 described her experience of two years ago as feeling as though she'd been in a completely different time, almost as though she'd walked into a different dimension. Lest she think she was the only one, I admitted that when I was lost, I couldn't find my tracks, even though there was snow on the ground. Even my dog, a good tracker if there ever was one, kept walking in circles. And I told her that I too had felt as though I was in a parallel place, so familiar, but suddenly not the place I knew and loved.
I got out that late fall morning by announcing aloud that I wouldn't come back until the spring thaw. It worked because I looked up and finally I could see a blaze on one the trees showing me the trail. Needless to say, I'd been looking for blazes for what must have been half an hour and hadn't see a thing. Joyce.2 got out by my finding her.
Really, this how it happened and I would swear to the above in a court of law. Not that it matters of course, since I've already admitted that for me, reality is nebulous thing.