My original plan was a schedule of events that began in March and ended in late September. I was going to come to Oregon for the birth of my first grandchild and stay a couple of weeks to help out afterward.
Then, I planned to go home to host our wine club–this time, the “bold and rich” wines of Bordeaux–and dig into tasks for Happy Landings. I planned to add more quotes from her books, and I needed to find some pages and volume numbers for the reference notes. I planned trips to Wisconsin, Norway, and Sweden over the summer, finishing up in Maine for Emilie Loring’s birthday.
When I arrived, all of that still seemed possible, but now, I cannot tell you–to the month, or even to the season–when I will leave Oregon. Had I known, I would have packed differently. I would have brought more clothes, my address book, and regular-sized toiletries. Even a trunk couldn’t have brought enough of my Emilie Loring archive to do the work I had intended, but I could sure use a suitcase filled with her paperbacks.
It means a change in plans.
Those words have extra meaning for me. As a young man, my father planned to attend Annapolis and make a career of the Navy. Then, in December of 1933, what seemed like a cold turned to several days of fever, and his legs felt weak. It was polio, his generation’s second viral epidemic. He wrote in his autobiography:
“Polio was a very new disease then, and not much was known about treatment. It meant a change in plans.”
Although Dad was always a little wistful about the Naval Academy, he became a professor of zoology, traveled the globe, and made a name for himself among scientists in desert regions of the world.
“Do you ever think back and wonder what would have happened had you taken the right turn instead of the left at a certain crossroad?” A Certain Crossroad
I hadn’t realized it in just this way before, but Emilie Loring’s novels begin with abrupt changes in plans.
The Trail of Conflict – Geraldine Glamorgan is all set to meld her husband’s heritage with her father’s wealth. Then an uncle makes a deathbed demand, and all of a sudden, she’s headed to Wyoming to ride the lonely range on horseback and help her husband succeed on his ranch.
Here Comes the Sun! Julie Lorraine is headed for Shorehaven, where she hopes to spike her aunt’s matrimonial plans for her, but a cocker spaniel leaps off the train platform, she goes after it, and all of a sudden, she’s pretend-married to an up-and-coming politician.
A Certain Crossroad – Judith wants to get away from her past, but she goes to a coastal village and lands smack dab in the middle of both her past relationship and a smuggling ring.
Emilie Loring described the plot device herself in Fair Tomorrow:
“Mr. A starts for B at the other end of a straight line. Half way he meets C. That contact sidetracks him to D.”
It’s on to “D” for me: For the foreseeable future, I will live here in Oregon with my daughter, son-in-law, and new granddaughter–lucky me, to have gotten to their house before shelter-in-place orders were announced. We’ll make things work; it’s just a change in plans.
Like Lissa Barclay in her lighthouse (Give Me One Summer), I’ve rigged up a workspace in the corner of my bedroom. Outside my window, I can enjoy flowering camellias–red, pink, and white. With neither archive nor books at my disposal, I will fine-tune the flow of Happy Landings–when I’m not holding my granddaughter, that is.
Like Emilie’s gardening heroines, I have ordered seeds for a vegetable garden: peas, potatoes, onions, cucumber, squash, and tomatoes. Soon, they will accompany my daughter’s strawberries, raspberries, hula berries and rhubarb.
An Emilie Loring book that relates to my life right now is When Hearts Are Light Again. We plan meals on the findings of our freezer, pantry, and whatever we can get from our list at the grocery store. A la Greg Hunt, I treated the new parents to a steak dinner when they came home from the hospital, exhausted and bleary-eyed from 48 hours in the OB ward. We had no bread or yeast, so I stirred up a batch of sour cream muffins with streusel topping for breakfast.
“When hearts are light again. That’s a thought for anxious days and wakeful nights. Just the sound of the word lifts the weight from my spirit and reminds me that the skies always clear.”
We are the authors of our own stories through this pandemic. We are not in control of the plot complications, but we can make resilient choices in the face of them–our changes in plans.
I am sadly aware that many have extraordinarily difficult circumstances to bear right now, and I wish them strength to see it through.
What was the thing which wouldn’t let them give up, which nine times out of ten pulled them through? Molly B. had it. So had Tim Grant. Would it come to her in a desperate need? Beckoning Trails
We are following curve-flattening protocols here, and so far, we have remained healthy. When this is over, I will add the needed quotes and references to Happy Landings, and my wine club will have some extra-aged Bordeaux to taste.
Until then, I will put my energy into my change in plans. I have a garden to plant, blog posts to write for you, and my first grand-baby to cuddle.
Her name? Molly B__ I wonder if she’ll be a writer?
Happy landings, everyone!