A red plaid thermos has been an icon of my writing life most of the years I have been serious about writing. I’m not sure when or where I first acquired it, but it has been a signal to myself and others of the beginning of a serious writing session. Holding only two cups of coffee, it measures roughly two hours for me, enough concentrated time to get a good start on a piece, if the Spirit is moving. I have carried it with me on woodland walks designed to gather inspiration for writing. I’ve filled it for a weekend camping trip, alone with parts of two days in front of me to write by bonfire light until dying embers forced me to bed. But most often, it has swung from my crooked finger countless times as I’ve walked the three hundred-odd steps across the lawn, into the woods, to my writing cabin.
Right now, my thermos is beside me, a plastic capful of its contents steaming at my other side. The hot coffee takes the edge off this chilled space, allowing me to stay a little longer at my notebook.
Before my cabin was built, I would carry the thermos to a small wooden table near the site. Three capfuls later, the bottle becoming perceptibly lighter with each refill, I was ready to return to my other routine, ordinary life, in which words were not as carefully chosen or artfully arranged. Later when my cabin was built, it perched beside me on my desk, warming words again. In tribute to it, I decorated my cabin with red plaid thermos accessories: three plaid picnic satchels with sandwich boxes and two huge thermoses each line high rafters; two plaid wicker baskets hold files, spare sweaters, socks; three large round metal picnic pails, three smaller thermos jugs, and nine other thermos bottles perch in a row at the point where the roof begins its pitch. Even a throwback car seat snack set hangs from the arm of my dumpster couch.
Surrounded by this warm collection of red plaid striped with sunny yellow, repeated in my walls, I am happily productive, as though each plaid container awaits being filled with words.