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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I am finally here at Blue Mountain. I arrived by Amtrak train to the miniscule town of Fort Edward, New York, and one of the Blue Mountain staff, a great young woman named Jessie, came to pick me up and drive me to the Center.

The 90 minute drive was stunningly beautiful. I had not, as I had feared, missed the turning of the autumn leaves. Some trees that we passed were so breathtaking that they brought tears to my eyes. They made me think of Annie Dillard’s “tree of lights” that shone so perfectly gold and red that looking at it made her feel as if she were a bell being struck. The weather was overcast and gray, sprinkling a little bit, but absolutely perfect. It was the weather of a northeast autumn. The smell of wet brown leaves, a little dusky and sour, was the smell of my childhood. I wanted to hang my head out the car window like a dog and inhale it and just cry.

We came to Blue Mountain Center and as we drove slowly up the long driveway I could feel my heart jumping in my throat. It was the feeling of coming home to one of the most perfect places in the world, a place of happiness and quiet and good work. I had been afraid it would feel different; that it would not feel as good but being here in October feels possibly even more exquisite than being here in the summer. Jessie told me that it is not too cold or too late for canoeing and that a 12 mile paddle is planned for this week. I had tried to prepare myself for the possibility that I would not be able to canoe so late in the year. I love canoeing. I remember when I came home from Blue Mountain two years ago, I wanted to buy a canoe.

I unpacked my things and realized a few more key items that I had forgotten. (printer paper! My comfortable clogs, and PENS. What a writer!) I went for a walk along the lakefront in my less-than-comfortable shoes, took some pictures of leaves and shuffled in thick piles of them as often as possible.

Dinner was great. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and nice and seemed genuinely happy that I’m here. “Now we’re complete,” someone said. We had delicious potato leek soup, salad that had been plucked from the garden this afternoon, good bread and something called zucchini-crust pizza that I think I remember from the first Moosewood cookbook. After dinner a few of us played a very intense and cutthroat game of Scrabble which I missed winning by two points, only because I had extra tiles left over.

Just as I was about to head up to my room, I spotted a few sheets of paper that someone had left on a table in the living room. It was left by one of the former residents who said it was an essay she’d found online by James Frey, the author of A Million Little Pieces. I sat down and read it and almost started crying. It really gripped my heart and gave me the courage to do here what I came here to do. It was the most perfect thing to read on the first night of this residency.


Blogger Libby said...

Oh, Susan, I am so glad you're there, with the turning leaves and the canoe and the scrabble tiles. Can you get John to send you your clogs? (I always forget my comfortable shoes, and always regret it...)

Keep us posted.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 4:55:00 AM

Blogger melanie said...

Hi Susan, it's Melanie. I read the essay by James Frey and found it very moving, too! Thanks for the link. I hope you have a wonderful time at Blue Mountain - actually, it sounds like you already are! ;)

Thursday, October 13, 2005 4:22:00 PM

Blogger C(h)ristine said...

Gosh, this essay takes on more complex layers when you take into the news that he's embellished his memoir! Was he so brave?

Thursday, January 12, 2006 9:57:00 AM


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