I sat with author Olivia Hoblitzelle on her back patio, talking about the re-release of her wonderful book, The Majesty of Your Loving, set for this fall. Originally an indie publication, her memoir of life with her husband “Hob” through the challenges of Alzheimer’s is getting full-market treatment. New cover art, marketing launch, and even a new title: Ten Thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows. Olivia describes it as an indispensable companion for anyone going through loss due to serious illness. Others could read it as a Buddhist guide to living and dying with mindfulness. I read it as a love story. His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently read it and Olivia shares his insight on her website.
As we sat in the backyard of her Cambridge home, I looked upward at the towering tree casting generous shade on the warm day. It was a graceful as Olivia herself; as grounded as her writing. Golden Rain tree, she told me. She pointed toward the ground, it produces these wonderful pods. She scooped one off the slate and handed it to me. Green as full summer, constructed of three leaves folded inward and joined at the tips. Lighter than the humid July air. As it rolled sideways I could hear a slight rattle. Seeds.
I left with a handful of pods–panicles I later discovered is the correct word–and a sense of lightness and mindfulness about my own writing. Though Google search revealed that the Golden Rain tree is considered an invasive species in Florida, I’m determined to plant the seeds. After all, this is Massachusetts. There is room for stretching and wild growth. When I arrived home with the pods cradled in one hand, I punched the listen button on our answering machine. Anne Wilson of the Groton Public Library calling to invite me to present a reading/discussion for their mystery group on October 21st, about October Run. I looked at the pods, thought about how independent books do find their home. How many of us writers write because it is the way we learn and grow and make sense of our lives.