I love taking photos in a storm, the wind swirling around, the light tricky and evasive, I always try and feel the emotion of it and capture the feeling of the moment. Here, Maria sits down, as she does every morning, to talk to the animals. They usually talk back.
A rain and wind storm swept in over the farm this morning, I love this kind of melancholic writing, it is good for writing an cleansing for the soul. The wind was roaring, the sky dark and ominous. Beautiful.
It's a miracle really, we put the frost free pump handle in the barn to protect it from high winds and cold (stormy day today) and Maria drilled a hole in the side of the barn for the hose, which we cut to the right length. All we have to do is lift the pump handle up and water flows to the heated bucket (good for animals in the winter, a way of them staying warm.) Simon looked on, curious as always.
Anyone with a farm understands the miracle of the frost-free pump, hauling buckets of water around the pasture in the winter in ice and mud is one of the worst is the worst chores on a farm with animals, and we marvel every day at the miracle of the frost free, a project I have been plotting and scheming for a couple of years. Life is good. I have gotten tons of congratulatory messages from farmers. They know what a frost-free means.
Wilton, Conn., it turns out, was about five hours away from the farm, a longer drive than we anticipated with a quirky GPS and lots of traffic. Southeastern Connecticut is a boom town, for better or worse. We showed up a half hour late, the latest I have ever been to a book signing, the crowd was understanding, gracious, focused and very intelligent. They were the nicest people.
Some people had to leave, I felt badly.
I gave a talk, we had a real conversation about animals, donkeys, compassion, communicating, gender, and the meaning of animal rights. Red was a rock star, as always, he was quiet in the car all the way, greeted at least half of the people in the audience and happily posed for photos. He is a wonderful companion. There was a long line to buy books organized by the New Canaan book store, Elm Street books. They invited me to Wilton, generously offered to support the Orphans Book Tour. Thanks for that.
Maria and I drove back home after the reading – Random House isn't participating in this book tour, it is my last book with them, but I have something better than a supportive publisher, I have a supportive wife. Maria drove both ways, and I had to pry her fingers off of the wheel and take over when she started nodding off on dark and slick country roads after dark. She had already done nine hours of driving, it was enough, I drove the rest of the way. We thought of staying in a hotel but couldn't find one close by.
Maria and I have great fun no matter what we do. This was another adventure. It was too much driving for one day, especially since I can't do too much of it yet. Yet we both agreed that it was worth it, it was a special time.
Maria and became friends in part because she was hired to drive me around the Northeast on several of my book tours in the days when publishers supported them, and it is wonderful to be doing this new kind of book tour with her. I told her on the way back that she is loving and loyal and true, and she said she didn't know what I meant.
Strangely, this book tour is one of the most affirming, perhaps because I am fighting for my book in a personal way. Simon's story ought to be told. Every event I've had so far has been great, including this one.
All these people – readers and book lovers, every one – coming out to see me with little or no publicity. Neat. The crowds have been considerable, attentive, and the questions thoughtful and stimulating. People said the nicest things about my photos and writing, and about "Saving Simon." It reminded me that I love being a writer, affirmed and connected to the people who read books. Lots of people came to Wilton from the blog, I am forever amazed at it's power and reach. It is my living memoir, my great work.
It is a special experience to talk to people who know the Bedlam Farm story so well. People are very interested in donkeys, in the Simon story and I am learning how to talk about communications and visualization, key parts of my next book "Talking To Animals."
I have been frank about being upset that my publisher of 30 years abandoned this book and refused to spend one dollar on it's promotion, but that is my problem now, not theirs. Life happens, to me, to you, the challenge is to respond graciously and well. I am reminded again and again that less is more, I think the book tour I am creating myself and with Maria may turn out to be the best one yet. The Wilton Library is a special place, writers and books are alive and well there.
If you buy "Saving Simon" at Battenkill Books, my local and quite wonderfull bookstore, I will sign and personalize it for you and you will receive a free tote bag that says "Peace, Love Books." You will also receive a free signed photo notecard of Simon and be eligible to win notecards, photos and potholders. You can order the book online – the store takes Paypal and ships anywhere in the world – or you can call 518 677-2515,