You know the saying. When one door closes, another door opens. I’ve been feeling pretty discouraged about another project that isn’t looking promising. Then I picked up this book my cousin gave me for my birthday in April:
At the time Carole gave me A Fine Romance, Falling in Love with the English Countryside by Susan Branch, I glanced through it and thought that while it looked cute, I couldn’t imagine actually READING a book that appeared to be hand-written. I had kind of a “what’s-up-with-that” reaction.
I read a lot. A LOT! So, I had other books at home waiting for my attention as well as more books ordered from the library that hadn’t come in yet.
Then two things happened this week. First, I ran out of reading material. When I have nothing to read, I feel a little bit like I used to feel when I’d find myself smoking the last cigarette in a pack, and discovering that it was actually the last pack in the carton. Panic! Plus, I was meeting cousins Carole and Karen for dinner last night. What if Carole asked me how I liked the book?! It was time to pick up the book and . . . .
Okay. I’m gobsmacked (isn’t that a fun English word?). Branch fell in love with the English
countryside, and I am falling in love with Branch falling in love. It doesn’t take long to become somewhat used to the quirky appearance of the book. It’s in diary form and hand-written, though I’m guessing it’s really her own personal font that she created and is typed as we type everything. How could all the characters be perfect otherwise? If she really wrote all of that by hand, well, I’m just double gobsmacked, I guess. It would be cool enough just to have her own personal handwriting font, as far as I’m concerned.
Then there are the quotes (her choices are perfect) scattered everywhere, along with photos and her enchanting watercolor illustrations, scrumptious-sounding recipes, and more. It’s a hodgepodge of information and graphics, but . . . it works. It’s adorable. And I’m pretty sure that if I were ever lucky enough to actually meet Susan Branch, that SHE would be adorable.
So what about the new door opening? Well, if anyone’s paying attention out there, you will note that I haven’t written much in the past year. I’ve been distracted not only with my day job (must pay the bills, after all), but also with trying to start a new travel business. Day job is good, but the travel dream isn’t materializing, sad to say. Very sad to say, and thus the feelings of discouragement.
Not to say the dream is completely over, but reading Branch’s book is reminding me of the joy of writing. If you love to write, no matter what else is going on, there is a comfort to putting pen to paper or, in my case, fingers to keyboard, and just speaking to the page. My writing will not be as whimsical and delightfully put together as hers, but that’s okay. She is truly gifted and I admire that talent. Good for you, Susan! You rock!
No, my writing is of a different sort. We can’t all be Susan Branch or my hero, Rick Steves, or Paul Theroux or Bill Bryson or any of the other remarkable writers who reflect so brilliantly on their travels. But for that matter, Bill Bryson can’t be Susan Branch, either (insert light bulb over head).
So my writing about travel and life will be from Kate Mahar’s point of view and in Kate Mahar’s style. I’m not likely to become rich and famous in the process, but you know what? It makes me happy. And I am grateful for whatever level of talent I can claim as my own.
Thank you for reading my blog. And if you are looking for a truly delightful read about England’s picturesque gardens and castles and warm tributes to Beatrix Potter and afternoon tea with scones and jam and clotted cream (oh, yum – count me in!), then do pick up this beautiful book. And visit www.susanbranch.com to learn more about this lovely, talented lady and her works.
Thank you, Susan Branch, for inspiring me. And a special thank you to my dear cousin, Carole Berthold, for this sweet birthday gift. My birthday has come and gone, but this week was exactly the time when I needed this gift.