I'm not sharing this picture because I particularly like the way I look in it, especially since it no longer looks much like me. I'm sharing it because it was taken by my favorite man beneath a sycamore tree at Jolly Mill, Missouri. The tiny historical mill town--which is now a privately owned park--is the setting for the books I've been writing the past couple of years, with the permission of the park board. The place intrigues me because of the amount of history that has taken place there, including my own. I went to high school nearby, and when I was a freshman, we were initiated by the upperclassmen. Those they could grab, they would drive to Jolly Mill and dump them into Capps Creek from the old bridge. The tradition ended my freshman year because a friend of mine was dropped a little too hard and sprained her ankle in the foot-deep water.
Local residents have built beautiful homes into the cliffs above the old mill and the creek, in a gated community in the middle of the countryside. I love to return to this park whenever I need inspiration, because just listening to the birdsong and walking along the older buildings, strolling beside the creek, can start my imagination jumping into story mode.
What places inspire you? I've always loved the Grand Canyon and hiked it nine times, but since eight of those nine times I've gotten sick, I've kind of lost my passion for it. I do love Branson, which isn't far from us, and we go there quite a bit, but I don't go to shows, I just love to stay there and relax away from home. I love Colorado, but the moose on the hiking trails scare me. Things change. My favorite places change.
Have your favorites changed over the years? Any input you'd like to share with us?