I remember when I spent a couple of weeks in a writing residency at a cottage on the beautiful grounds of the Hedgebrook Foundation. The notebook on the table contained entries from writers who had stayed there before me. On one page, Ursula Le Guin had drawn a little lizard and commented on its presence, signing the entry, UKL. I was in awe of who had been there before me, and yet, somehow, I felt invited to the great party of writing and life. I felt as if I’d been allowed to shape the two in my own way.
Tributes are pouring in now, some formal and respectful, others more personal, remembering moments and insights and connections, human to writer, with no difference between the two.
Here’s one on Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog. Excerpt:
Ursula K. Le Guin helps me know where I am.
She is not gone.
And this beautiful account of friendship and of a child’s glimmering insights from William Alexander. Excerpt:
Ursula died at the age of eighty-eight–a multiple of eleven. I wish she could have waited for ninety-nine instead.
She collaborated a few times with my youngest daughter Iris. Together they told stories about monkeys and cats.
And that in turn reminded me of the time I read Catwings to my son back when he was five. We read it many times. We read the sequels. The very notion of cats with wings gave rise unfailingly to delighted laughter and to the anxious turning of pages.
And then there was wonderful Alexander, lost and treed, cold and terrified by a wandering owl, who was then found by a stranger and discovered an entire family of most unusual cats.
Of course, back when I read these out loud, over and over again, I had no idea that many years later I would meet a wonderful Alexander who was a friend of Ursula’s. There’s that invitation again, a kind of magic that we ought to make the effort to pass along.