I am taking part in a writer’s group and we are going through Kroeker and Craig’s book On Being a Writer. We meet at Kate Motaung’s blog to discuss a chapter on Mondays and Wednesdays. I am a little behind this week so am just now getting to post my thoughts on Wednesday’s chapter which was Notice. Noticing your surroundings and the details in different scenes.
On Tuesday of this week, I traveled 90 miles with my husband to another city in the state. He had a business meeting to attend and I went along for the food. Well, actually, to spend some time with my husband and the food. I did a little shopping while he was in his meeting and quickly grew tired of that. It was a beautiful day out so well ahead of our meeting time, I made my way across the city to a park in the older part of the city. Traffic was heavy so I was glad I had started out early and didn’t have to worry about being late. I was able to find a parking space alongside the park and after gathering up my purse, my knitting, my Cherry Limeade, and a new notebook I’d just bought myself for 50 cents, I carefully exited my car after making sure there was no traffic coming. I fed the parking meter and then looked across the park to find a place I wanted to sit.
There was a large group of young men right at the park’s edge and I had to make my way by them to get to the spot I thought would be a good place to sit. After sitting down, I knit for a while and then pulled out my notebook and started to record the scene, trying to notice as many details as I could. I had no idea the assignment was going to be on Notice, even though Kate had told us, I often forget things like that, but another writer had encouraged me to take opportunities like this to practice my ability to notice details and then to recall them. The fact that this was our assignment for the next day’s group discussion and postings is one of those times when I believe my Father orchestrates the simple details in my life to converge.
The following was my observations from that day.
I sit here in this park in the middle of the afternoon. I have time to kill while I wait for my husband. i can hear the waterfalls behind me and to the sides of where I’m sitting. They drown out most of the other noises. Occasionally the noise from a truck or a loud car will break through the water’s noise. I watch as some ducks lazily paddle in the pond in front of me. They are quite a ways away but still fun to watch. A gentle breeze is blowing and other than a few small bugs, it is a beautiful day.
Nearby, a group of young men lounge in the shade of a tree, sitting or lying on the grass. It crosses my mind that the young men could be drug dealers, or at least one of them could be, and maybe this is not the safest area for me to be sitting. Not too far away from me though is a young couple totally immersed in each other. Talking and kissing and enjoying the afternoon as only young lovers can. Birds are flying overhead and singing.
When I first arrived and walked by the group of men, I heard them say something about a controlled substance and there have been a number of people coming and going from their group. There is one of them that will go up and greet people as they come to the park and guide them back to where this group sits. They stay a little while and then leave. This scene is to be repeated over and over during the course of the 30 – 45 minutes I’m sitting there.
There was another woman sitting in front of me for a while by herself, when I first got here. She was playing on her phone. After a few minutes, she got up, turned around and smiled at me, and then walked away, further into the park.
There have been other people walk through the park while I sit here and several people walk by on the sidewalk behind me. A young man swinging a bottle of Mountain Dew by the cap while he walks, a businessman dressed in a suit and carrying his planner goes by, a group of young school girls walk across the bridge in front of me.
I take another drink of my cherry lime juice and notice ants trying to get to it. I shoo them away.
Just then my husband calls and asks where I’m at. I direct him on how to find me and rise from my seat on a cement step. My butt is numb from sitting so long and it feels good to get up and move. I make my way back past the group of men and go stand by my car to wait for my husband.
I’m going to continue to take my notebook with me when I go places to jot down impressions and phrases that come to mind. Details I could use in my writing. I used to play a game with myself when I’d walk alone in the park. I would watch people and cars that would go by me and try to notice as much about them as I could, pretending I was needed to give a description to the police.
It’s amazing how much more you will notice if you are actively trying.