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  • J Hopkins

Imagination and Mountains, by Jude Hopkins, 6/17/23

In addition to writing my debut novel and several essays, I have always loved writing poetry. Perhaps my favorite poem from among those I wrote was “The Over-Ripe Imagination in Buckle-Up Country,” published by Timber Creek Review in 2010.

Here it is: The sun, like the hills, tempers the natives, appearing only after cresting the Alleghenies and departs long before turning in for the night, taking the sky with it. Here there are no tales of sunsets like bloody yolks or ones stippling the dusk with magenta — such scenes unfailingly compromised by mountains or mist.

The ring of hills surrounding the town serves as a golden mean, muscling back the kind of trouble born of unbounded heavens. So the people here spend their lives longing to feel a fire hot enough to burn diamonds — All the while casting onto phantoms their hooded glances, their bitten lips and swear they smell the sea in every remnant of a hurricane that comes here to die. As someone who was raised in northwestern Pennsylvania, I grew up surrounded by beautiful lush forests that certainly provided a stunning natural environment as a backdrop. I loved the smell of the woods, the majestic pine trees, the springs that provided the clearest, cleanest water I could ever imagine. But for all its beauty, the rustic nature of my hometown area also had its drawbacks. As a young girl, I often felt trapped; the trees that filled the hills around me kept me from an easy exit. It was as if the hills, like nature’s chaperone, prevented me from all the fun happening beyond them. As a result, I yearned an awful lot as a young girl, yearned for the city, yearned for access to more and different people, yearned for the excitement denied me in a region so rural.

This poem is about those feelings: the way nature kept me from experiencing what I thought I desired. I longed to see a California sunset in which the sun seemed to sink right into the Pacific Ocean. Instead, the hills in my area always cut off such a view, leaving a stark image of a darkened silhouette, behind which a fiery sun continued with its fireworks. I was only left to imagine what it was like to see such a display and experience the parallel excitement such a wide-open place could bring. The hills were “a golden mean,” I wrote in the poem, “muscling back the kind of trouble born of unbounded heavens.” As a result, I yearned for a fire “hot enough to burn diamonds.” Even rain that traveled to my region from a distant hurricane was something I wanted to smell to see if I could detect any of the exotic scents it absorbed from its travels. In time, I left the region, got to experience the excitement of cities and lived in Los Angeles for a while where I watched many a “bloody yolk” sunset “stippl[le] the dusk with magenta.” But I came to appreciate what I once knew, the trees with their roots tangled in the soil and the quiet peace of the forest. In fact, I returned home to “buckle-up country” for those very reasons, a lot wiser and much less wistful. My debut novel, Babe in the Woods, follows a protagonist with a similar sensibility. She, too, desired to get out of her rural hometown into a city but returns with a tempered sensibility and a better understanding of who she is and what she wants, all inspired by my own longings and experiences. (Originally appeared in The Creatively Green blog.) Babe in the Woods

Jude Hopkins

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press Inc.

Date of Publication: June 7, 2023

ISBN 978-1-5092-4843-8

ISBN 978-1-5092-4844-5

Number of pages: 294

Word Count: 72,321

Cover Artist: Tina Lynn Stout

Tagline: Timber! She’s Falling in Love

Book Description:

It’s September 1995, the first year of the rest of Hadley Todd's life. After living in Los Angeles, Hadley returns to her hometown in rural New York to write and be near her father.

In addition to looking after him and teaching high school malcontents, Hadley hopes to channel her recent L.A. heartbreak into a play about the last moment of a woman’s innocence. But she seeks inspiration.

Enter Trey Harding, a young, handsome reporter who covers sports at the high school. Trey reminds Hadley of her L.A. ex and is the perfect spark to fire up her imagination. The fact that Trey is an aspiring rock star and she has L.A. record biz connections makes the alliance perfect. She dangles promises of music biz glory while watching his moves.

But the surprising twist that transpires when the two of them go to Hollywood is not something Hadley prepared for.

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