In March, while traveling on the east coast, I had dinner with a dear friend, Ted Maris-Wolf. We splurged, dining at the Fat Canary, a special-event favorite restaurant of mine back in the day (circa 2008). We had a wide-ranging conversation, from our families and children to mutual friends and the institutions we had in common: the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (where Ted is now Vice President of Research and Historical Interpretation and I was Book Editor/Writer for five years in the early 2000s).
As our dinner was winding down, we began to chat about writing adventures, discussing Ted’s ups and downs with his first academic-press publication, Family Bonds: Free Blacks and Re-Enslavement Law in Antebellum Virginia, and my negotiations with a journal editor of an old academic article of mine (more on that in another post). We also talked about my forthcoming memoir. I wondered aloud whether to self-publish and, if so, to bother with a print version or just stick with an eBook edition.
Suddenly, the woman seated on the banquet next to me at the two-top to my right leaned over, excused herself for interrupting by explaining she had overheard we were writers and she, herself, was a poet, then grabbed my arm and exclaimed that I must print my book. She introduced herself as Beclee Newcomer Wilson, poet laureate of Napa County, CA. Her husband across the table, John Wilson, mentioned that he met with a VP at Colonial Williamsburg that afternoon who recommended he set up a meeting with the new VP overseeing the Historic Area — someone named Ted something-or-other. I introduced John to Ted; John immediately launched into his various proposals to improve Colonial Williamsburg, and Ted shared some of what he envisions for the future of the Historic Area. I gossiped with Beclee for an hour about writing, publishing, the beauty of Napa Valley, her work to bring poetry to elementary-school students, and the challenges of juggling the joyous noise of motherhood with the solitary contemplation of a writer’s life. Beclee and I exchanged email addresses, John got on Ted’s schedule for the following day, and the Wilsons departed.
Several minutes later, after the restaurant staff reset the table, Ted and I looked at each other and marveled, “Was that real? Or did we imagine them?!”
A wonderful dinner with a longtime friend transformed into a a delightful chance meeting. Beclee and I have a phone date to talk about book marketing at the end of the month.
Here’s Beclee’s 2011 poetry collection, Winter Fruit (available on Amazon).