Writer’s Block: Small Observations

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Sometimes I struggle with what to fill this space with every week. Kind of paradoxically, when your options are nearly limitless, you can suddenly find yourself at a loss for what to do. Having too many options can occasionally feel just as constricting as having too few.

Such is the case with this Writer’s Block column. I have a fairly wide latitude to use this space for a variety of topics. In the past, I’ve used it to write about family, the weather, local wildlife, interesting people I’ve had the good fortune to meet, local events, politics, art, pop culture, science fiction (one of my favorite topics), or just whatever random musings I’ve pondered in a given week.

You readers have also given me the grace and patience to use this space to write about things of a sadder or more bittersweet nature, as well: the tragic murders of five Annapolis journalists last year, a remembrance of my very first newspaper boss, recollections of the lessons I have been honored to learn from veterans who have since left us.

More often than not, however, this Writer’s Block column is a space for expounding on the mundane. I’ve gotten into the habit of collecting small observations throughout the week, of pinning mental notes of musings as they spark their way throughout the clutter that is my mind, in order to share them here.

“Ah! Maybe I can include that in my column this week!” I’ve thought more than once.

And most of the time, that’s exactly what happens. That’s how I’ve ended up with 500 words on a 5-second moment when a turkey vulture swooped across the road in search of a meal. Or on a blast of salty sea spray being blown across Maxan Street from the Laguna Madre being whipped into a frenzy by a passing cold front.

I think I’ve gotten a lot better at spinning small moments into detailed vignettes here; however, sometimes that menagerie of vignettes are too small and get left on the cutting room floor, so to speak. I always feel a little sad about that.

Take this week, for example. No doubt you’ve seen and experienced the fog that has graced us well into the afternoon hours most days for the past couple of weeks.

Well, earlier this week I was on the Island for a press conference. The morning was gray and wan, just like the day before it. But, by the time I started heading back to our offices in Port Isabel, the sun had begun to win the tug-of-war with the clouds.

Still, wisps of fog skimmed low over the city — surprisingly thick wisps. As I traveled down Padre Boulevard, I looked up to see the top half of one high-rise completely obscured by a curtain of fog while another — just across the street — gleamed in the golden light of the sun. They were mere yards apart, but what a difference!

It was such a surreal sight. And as I looked closer, I could see the small fog cloud shifting its shape as the breeze pushed it along while the sunshine simultaneously steamed it slowly away.

It was just a brief moment, but I’m glad I got to share it with you.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.portisabelsouthpadre.com/2019/03/01/writers-block-small-observations/

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