When we lived in Indianapolis, spring was my favorite season. Blooming dogwood and redbud reminded me of my mother who used to take outings to the family cabin in Brown County just to enjoy the flowering trees on the way. But here in northern Wisconsin spring is more about mud and accumulated debris left by the snowplows. And mud. Did I mention mud? The lake is still solid enough to drive on, but there is a layer of water on the surface—a layer that refreezes overnight as does the layer caught on the walk between the piles of snow on either side.
Eight days ago I was sitting by the pool in Johannesburg, eating my lunch and enjoying the summer sunshine. Now I look out my windows at dirty slush and mud two seasons and nine thousand miles away. In South Africa I was working on revisions to an HIV novel that has not found a publisher. One of the new themes is how easy it is for the affluent to ignore the problems of those affected by HIV & AIDS. Even me. I find the children I have worked with for the past month slipping into the background of my consciousness, supplanted by restocking the refrigerator, shoveling slush, the symphony, fun with grandchildren, and getting my husband to ER. Oh yes, and prayers for Japan, Libya, Baharain, etc... (And don’t forget Haiti, which is anything but back to normal!)
The reality of the kids I left behind hasn’t changed. Their needs have not diminished. Those who teach and guide them daily or weekly have not escaped the chaos to a warm house on the lake with a fireplace and satellite TV. So how do I keep from being guilty of the sins of my oblivious characters?