I've always felt I was born into the wrong century. Even when I was little, my favorite books were historical fiction: Caddie Woodlawn, Little House in the Big Woods, The Bronze Bow, and Witch of Blackbird Pond. Since I can’t change the year of my birth, I write historical fiction instead.
I grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis, but soon after we got married, my husband and I moved to a ridge top farm in the forgotten hills of southwest Wisconsin. There I could sometimes pretend that I was living in the olden days. We heated our 100-year-old farmhouse with wood, and in the winter we cooked on a wood-burning cookstove that was even older than the house. We lived with our children and an ever-changing variety of animals and wildlife, surrounded by woods and pasture and the sounds of crowing chickens, and mooing cows during the day, and only the quiet chirping of crickets at night. My favorite activities, next to writing, were riding my bike, weeding the garden, and spending time with my three children and their partners. And their pets.
In January 2013 my first grandchild was born and my daughter asked us to help with child care. So we rented our farmhouse to a friend, packed up what we could fit in our little Subaru Impreza, and drove to Brooklyn, New York. (I have a few posts describing some of my experiences on a blog.)
I am still writing historical fiction, but now I am living in one of the biggest cities on earth along with millions of people of every race, gender, and orientation. Here, I’m surrounded by the endlessly fascinating architecture of brownstones and old-fashioned office buildings, the sounds of car horns and sirens, and the cadence of voices speaking in countless different languages both day and night. And my favorite activities besides writing are walking the streets of New York, growing herbs on my fire escape. and spending time with my children and grand-children. And their pets.
There is so much history in New York. Many of the buildings are even older than my farmhouse and my cookstove, and it’s not too hard to imagine what it must have been like to live here in the olden days. I take my grandchildren on walks past the Old Stone House where George Washington had his headquarters during the Battle of Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War. At the New York City Transit Museum, we can sit in subway cars from 1908 and walk through the turnstiles people used when the first subways were built. We've walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, which opened in 1883. And when we walk to my grandson's school I get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty standing in the harbor.
We still have our farm, and we go back to visit whenever we can. Everything I miss when I'm in Wisconsin, I have in Brooklyn. And everything I miss when I’m in Brooklyn, I have at the farm. It’s a good way to live.
My Story So Far