Friday, August 20, 2010

"All grist to this mill ..."

This line came from a character in a book, a foot soldier in one of the Crusades. He took a peek at his bad food, noticed the bread was full of weevils and snarfed it down anyway. He told the POV character, "All grist to this mill."

That's how I think of a lot of life experiences. I am working at a factory now and absolutely none of it relates to any of my previous experiences as a farmer's wife or newspaper reporter. But, I am doing some people watching. All grist to this mill. Maybe I can use some of it, some day. Who does my boss remind me of? How would I describe my co-w0rkers? Why is this place organized the way it is? How would I describe the sounds, the sights, the heat, the noise ... I pray for wisdom in my dealings with my co-workers. Probably need to pray more!

In the same way, I tried to gather details when we went to Warren Dunes Sunday. A strong weather front pushed through and stirred up 2- to 4-foot-waves. On Sunday the lake was every shade of blue and green -- the horizon was indigo but closer to shore the waves were turquoise and jade. One emotional impact came from seeing my 9-year-old, who hated swimming lessons and resented our making him suffer through them, turn into a suntanned little otter in Sponge Bob swim trunks as he played in the waves. Or the human comedy of a parade of people slogging through deep sand with all their gear. Or the drama of the rangers searching for a lost little boy and returning him to his parents, with a round of applause from surrounding beach-goers. Wow. Some answered prayers take only minutes.

Other experiences pile up: The sounds and scents of horseback riding; trying to walk across a plowed field; the feelings of sweat, blisters and splinters as we bale hay; the voices of children; boys' voices changing to manly voices; a daughter growing taller than me. All grist to this mill.

All grist to this mill. I don't know when I will use any of this in my writing, but I'm glad I have these experiences to draw on. Perhaps writing is one way for me to "save time in a bottle" as an old song says.


  1. Your delightful article made me think of how much we as writers put a magnifying glass on God's world and have the privilege of enjoying it all the more!

  2. Well said. Bravo. I loved your images and I love your voice. There are certain people I can readily identify by reading their blogs and you are one of them Ann, even before you mentioned the factory, the farm, or the dunes (which I had read on your fb). It's always so gratifying to come to the end and say Yes! that's who I thought it was. No problem with voice here.

  3. [Cue Elvis voice ...]

    Why thank you. THank you very much. ;-)

  4. When you describe Warren Dunes and the farm, I'm there. You'll certainly use this grist--especially that heartfelt lost/found scene on the beach!