Becca Rose Hall lives in Seattle with her husband Nate and their dog and chickens. She is the founder and director of Frog Hollow School, a writing program for children. Her work has appeared in Contrary Magazine, Quick Fictions, grist, High Country News, The Bellingham Review, and elsewhere. She writes novels.
Becca & Nate were guests at ZVONA i NARI Library & Literary Retreat in February and March of 2017.
We wake to bells and sunlight. White light coming through the sheer curtain. No sirens, few motors. Birds. The house is full of books, but I cannot read them. I only brought one from home, and I nurse it slowly. There are shelves of books in English next door, but for days I forget to ask for the key. An empty mind. I did find an English-language copy of Iyengar's Light on Yoga mixed in with the Croatian books. In the mornings, I do Mountain Pose on the balcony. That simple pose, which I've been doing since I was four, suddenly done with a radical new awareness. I let the sunlight fall on my eyes. Once, a bumblebee lands on the stucco beside me. It stretches its legs; I stretch mine.
It isn't warm yet, but I crave the sunlight after a Seattle winter, so I sit outside in my coat and hat and work. My husband Nate is happy in his cave, sitting in the kids bedroom on his computer with the shutters closed, but I need light. I roam around the house and patio, working, moving, working again. There are kids are playing in the yard. "Geronimo!" they yell. I'm trying to finish major edits on my novel "Salt for Salt". I've been working on them since August and they are going slowly, but at ZVONA i NARI they go so fast I feel like I'm working in fast forward.
In the afternoon, we ride bikes to the sea, look at the clear blue water, the plastic the water spits back at us. We smell fields of brassicas, that wonderful cabbage-headed kale. We see dogs going about their business unattended and miss our own dog who would like to be a Ližnjan dog much more than a city dog. We see dolphins so big we wonder if they are whales. We see Roman ruins, closed up beach bars, stone walls that fence in forest instead of fields. I find boar tracks and dog tracks and feline tracks that are too big to be house cat tracks. If we were in Washington, I'd say they were bobcat. Sometimes the air smells to me like California: oak trees and salt water and earth. Sometimes the air smells like coal.
We become regulars at the Munat grocery store. We buy too much prosciutto and Nate takes a liking to the two-liter bottles of beer. Ožujsko. He says it over and over, trying to make it intelligible, but waiters still pause when he orders it. The women at the store give us meal planning tips and are patient with our halting, broken Croatian attempts. "You're still here," they say.
I sleep and write and walk and write and eat and write and bike and write and sleep. I finish the edits. I proofread it on the airplane, enter the changes in on my living room couch. It rains and then the sun comes out. The townhouse construction across the street booms and grinds. The chickadees hop around the climbing roses and my chickens escape from their pen. My dog tans his armpits on the front walk. I send the novel to my agent, go to text Nate that it's done. There's a text from him: can I put the beer he bought in the fridge? Daily life keeps going on.