It was a dark and stormy night...

By anne
July 9, 2006 - 23:51.

So goes the joke about the start of the great American novel. But to tell you the truth, it is quite dark outside of my hotel here in Albuquerque, and “stormy” doesn’t capture the fierceness and proximity of lightning that is punishing the skies over the Sandia Range.

I’m en route home from the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference, where discussions of plot, character, setting and structure should have prepared me to translate New Mexico’s sudden squalls and sagebrush into piquant prose, but I am at a loss for words.

I keep trying to photograph the lightning bolts, but sometimes in looking through the lens of a camera, you miss the whole experience. So you will just have to imagine the sensation of brilliant blue-white scars ripping the blackness into quadrants like a giant dagger slashing out the Tigris and Euphrates to define the map of Mesopotamia. (Oh, never mind, here’s a picture.)

I am eating an impressive chocolate brownie. It was baked this afternoon by Ileanah Zimin, proprietress of Sheva Café and Bakery on the Paseo del Pueblo Norte in Taos. My stomach was full after writing-buddy Leah and I shared a dinner of avocado salad and Israeli fries, but Ileanah charmed me into getting a to-go box. Now I am glad for the snack. Brownies and coffee accentuate the coziness of holing up alone in Old Town Albuquerque, while the drizzles of rain on the window blur the city lights below, soften the edges of the lightning, and portend rainbows for morning.

Tomorrow I will fly standby on Frontier to Minneapolis. I hope I get Ollie the Great Gray Owl on my tail. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click to see the Frontier Airlines website—specifically their “animal tails.”

I’m getting sleepy. More to come on the writers’ conference; in the meantime, click here for photos.

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