A Story’s Setting

Why do so many writers set their stories in hometowns, even if they haven’t lived there for many years? Because in those formative years, whether small town, city or suburb, so many of life’s firsts happened—when we were most aware and all our senses alert.

After nearly a lifetime of experiences, the first ones are still seared into my soul:

  • First smell of lake. Skin puckered and eyes bloodshot from staying in it from morning till dark, you smell like lake too. You are lake
  • First love. You grin so hard and so long your jaws ache, you kiss so hard your mouths bruise
  • First disappointment when he doesn’t show up; first heartbreak when you realize he’ll never show up
  • First taste of sugary doughnuts your palsied great-aunt Emma made in her kitchen. You thought she was an angel because she wore a white apron, white kerchief and lived in a cloud of white flour
  • First loon’s call. You think it’s calling to you, and it is. It’s all calling to you—the breeze unsettling the birches, canoe paddle slapping the water, conversation of Mergansers floating under the dock, a peeper chorus
  • First reflection.lake

I hope this blog post prompts a few memories of your own remarkable first experiences. I’d love to hear them…