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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

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Location: Lake Michigan Shoreline, Midwest, United States

By Grace, I'm a follower of Christ; by day, I'm a school administrator; by night (and always) I'm a husband and father (and now a grandfather); and by week's end, I usually find myself writing in this space. Feel free to join in the dialogue.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Finding Cozy: Author's Note

Click on image to enlarge © 2020

"Cozy is sometimes hard to find

for it's more than a place to be--

more than a bed or a roof overhead

for a few or a you and me.

Cozy's a snuggled-in state of mind

that wraps from the inside out

like a rabbit's fur 'neath a juniper

somewhere between dreams and doubt."

Click on image to enlarge © 2020

"Finding Cozy" is available on Amazon. Click Here. For more about the newly published story see below:

Michigan is home to many quaint summer cottage rows along lakes and rivers. Many of these houses are passed down through families and are now lived in year-round.  To me, such places still hold the charm of their original purpose, and that element of fantasy is part of this tale.

 "Finding Cozy" is about an imaginative eight-year-old girl who stumbles into the world of a rabbit wintering beneath a snow-covered juniper. The accidental encounter forges a friendship as the pair searches for the meaning of a profoundly important word. 

Toward the end of their search , the little girl whispers to the rabbit: “Do you know what else? My mother says cozy is a feeling that we learn before we are even born.” The rabbit's eyes widen, “Before we were even born?” he asks, and the little girls says: "That’s what my mother says. Way before I ever breathed my first breath or saw my first sight or spoke my first word, she says I knew what cozy was.”

As the preface page above explains, this was an evolving bedtime story I told my daughters back in the late 1990's. I put it to paper in 2014 when I also mapped illustration ideas for the written pages. At that time, my daughters and sister Kathy helped proofread the story, and we "kid-tested" it by reading it to our grandchildren, but the daunting task of finding an illustrator stalled the project for six years. Sometimes it takes a few years for a plant to blossom. 

So it was when this past October my wife Julie began to change her fall decor to her winter decorations. This is a thorough process involving the entire house, and she loves it. Julie loves making things cozy--especially around Christmas. This year, at one of her favorite shops she bought a new decorative piece that seemed to jump from this story. She brought it home, set it up, and said, "What do you see?"

I had not thought about the "Finding Cozy" story for many years, but I said, "I see Cozy Rabbit under the juniper." 
"Yes! You remember..." she said. "Tom, you've got to publish that story. This is the year. Maybe you can team up with Colton and Natalie and get it printed by Christmas." I knew my son-in-law could draw, but illustrating a 44-page book is a huge project. It was October 8. I shook my head and told Julie something about how impossible that would be. In any other year that would have been true. 

Two months is not a lot of time when measured in sixty evenings, ten weekends, and many wee hours of the morning. As my daughter and son-in-law (Natalie and Colton Wilson) began storyboarding and drawing each spread, it was amazing to see the imagery of thoughts and words coming to life. The process was new to all three of us.

Between writing and re-writing drafts through the years, Colton's weeks of drawing, and Natalie's editorial oversight as motivational "captain" (no small task), the three of us have logged hundreds of hours in this collaborative project. 

This beautifully illustrated full-color book  is a blend of poetry and prose meant to be read aloud by parents who enjoy reminiscing to children who love fond memories passed from age to age.With Colton's permission, I'm sharing just three samples from the 44 illustrated pages (pages that don't give away the storyline).

Click on image to enlarge © 2020

Click on image to enlarge © 2020

Watch the short video below to see how it all started Once Upon a Snow Day:

[Added February 5, 2021] The above home video footage was found on a tape in a box nearly two months AFTER "Finding Cozy" was published. I shot the video with my daughters nearly thirty years before, but none of us ever recalled watching seeing before January 26, 2021. (It was on old videotapes that we sent off to be digitized.) As we watched the images for the first time, I half expected to actually see the rabbit run from under the snow-covered limbs because it was on this snow day at "the little blue house" that the stories began. The story's plot-lines changed through the years, and when we moved to West Michigan, there several overgrown juniper bushes that wrapped around the front corner of our house. They were like an igloo when covered by heavy snow. They also provided shelter for a cottontail rabbit who had a burrow by the trunk of one of the bushes. One day Natalie and I startled hiding in that "fort" on a snow day. Can you imagine how it felt to watch these forgotten video clips months after publishing the book? We were overjoyed to see that the spirit of the story and illustrations were true to images that inspired them (and that we thought lived only in our memory). 

"Finding Cozy" is available on Amazon. Click Here. 
and at The Bookman in Grand Haven


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