In Spoonwood, Frederick Elman a.k.a. F. Latour moves into the woods at the site a former hippie commune from the 1960s to get away from booze to raise Birch, his infant son. I loved creating this little home in the woods along with its back story of hippie idealism and eroticism and, in the end, failed dreams.
I got the idea from a real place in my town of Westmoreland, New Hampshire, that I discovered forty something years ago. I'd walked a mile or so on a path up a steep wooded hillside, came to a relatively flat spot along the ridge of the hill. Though the area was heavily wooded there were some clearings here and there to let in plenty of sunlight.
The place gave me a pleasant feeling of having wandered into another era. There were stone walls, ledges, and a rock foundation that in some previous century might have supported a farmhouse and barn, all grown over with trees and brush. I found a big flat rock that capped a dug well.
I was pondering all this when I could see a flash of yellow through the trees. I walked over to investigate and came upon a schoolbus that had been converted into a home. Over the windows were faded tie-dyed curtains. The bus door had been removed and the entry had filled with wind-blown pine needles.
The inside was disappointing. It had been gutted, nothing remaining of furnishings or personal articles from the inhabitants. I filled in all the details with my imagination and loaded them into my novel, Spoonwood.