Monday, June 28, 2010

Research Can Be Fun or Hazardous

Eve is the winner of my Saturday giveaway drawing. Eve, you have 48 hours to contact me.

Now on to research. I'm one of those people who can lose myself in research. When I'm online, I go from one link to another and can easily get off topic if I don't focus. Sometimes, though, I need to see a setting first hand. For my June release, OUT OF THE BLUE, I needed to go back to Possum Kingdom Lake to see the cliff formation known as Hell's Gate, and to pick out a likely spot for the home in which my heroine Deirdre Dougherty stays after her rescue. I remarked in a blog for someone else that Hero and I set out to search for the best place to photograph Hell's Gate. We decided the most likely spot was the Boy Scout Camp at Johnson Bend on the lake. The problem arose when we overlooked the sign telling us to sign in at the first cabin. Oops. Apparently we look harmless, because we weren't arrested. We were escorted as I quickly took photos and we left. Whew! Getting arrested would have been embarrassing.

I think the name of the lake is funny. Yes, I have a warped sense of humor. You can see how the name Possum Kingdom Lake would confuse a time traveler from 1845 Ireland, right? The thing is, there are, or at least there were, a lot of possums in the area. Trappers used to kill the little varmints for their fur. Ugh. Having seen possums up close, I can't imagine wanting the fur, which is scraggly. There is no accounting for taste, is there? Which brings me to another observation. People who've eaten possum say they definitely do NOT taste like chicken. The animals are reported to be chewy and very greasy. One friend who grew up in a private orphanage during the Depression said if you're hungry enough, you'll eat what's served, but she didn't like the taste.  Thank goodness I've never been that hungry. The point is, though, that this lake was named because of the abundance of possums in the area.

I live an hour from Possum Kingdom Lake, which is in a lovely area of the hill-like Palo Pinto Mountains. In the fall, the post oaks of that area turn brilliant colors. Some say the Comanche Indians named the area for the colorful trees. Others say the Comanche used to paint colors on the trees at some festival or other. I suspect the former, because the fall colors are lovely for this part of the world. Hero and I like to drive through the hills--like a little mini-trip--for a change of scenery.

The Comanche were formidable fighters in this part of Texas. Occasionally a band of even more fierce Kiowa came through. Very near my home is the site of the kidnapping of three children by the Comanche, who then traded them to the Kiowa. Those children were rescued a year later by a trader, and they were returned to their families. But that's beside the point of today's post. Or, is it? Each part of research opens up another avenue. Avoiding detours are difficult to those of us who love research. We store up these tidbits to use another time on another story.

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