Craig Childs - House of Rain
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Field Notebook
Field Notebook

Running with Fire
Winter, 2008

They say having two children is much more than double the load. It is exponential, a new level of insanity. Some days, I agree. I've got a new book in the works and a slurry of magazine articles, I am having a hell of a time meeting deadlines with all the ruckus that has become of the house. I thought it was crazy before and now I find myself writing in two minute intervals. "Tooth brushing in two minutes!" I call, then run to a pad of paper and scribble fast as I can. At top speed, two minutes is half a paragraph, a quarter of a thought. For better or worse in the literary world, it's all I can do. I write in the bar on a quiet Tuesday or a loud Friday or at the library half an hour's drive from here. I write just about anywhere I can, home being one of the last options. One favorite place is in the adobe badlands outside of town, computer open on a desk someone dumped on the backroad. Another is the cafe in Paonia, where everyone else making a living by free-lancing hand to mouth comes to drink coffee. I've got a place in the corner for my computer.

At the cafe, JT Thomas, a photographer, sits with me. He works for some of the glossy wilderness magazines, likes to spend his time in South America or up the glaciers of southeast Alaska. Looking over the top of my computer JT can see in my eyes that I am as much a tired wreck as he.

JT asks, "You want to take some torches out tonight?"

I look up.

"We can meet in the 'dobes," he says.

Right away I agree, saying, "That's just what we need."

Late that night JT and I are running through the dark with torches outstretched, boots crashing through wind-hardened snow. We move fast, as if we had stolen this fire from the gods. When we are done, I come back to a quiet house, my gloves burned and smelling of kerosene. I slump into the rocking chair in front of the fire, glad to have found an answer to the unprecedented exhaustion of number 2.

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