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A few days ago I was noodling on Amazon, and noticed a new review on WHERE THE LAKE BECOMES THE RIVER's page. It was a generous and kindly bit of feedback, by a woman named Carol, out in Oregon. I lived in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle) for a couple of decades before moving back south, so I could picture Carol quite well in that landscape. She said she found the book "sad, stimulating, uplifting, and beautifully written." Thanks, Carol.

I appreciate the feedback, especially the "uplifting" part. (I was hoping for that effect, yet trying not to burden the reader with my particular metaphysical slant.) I've appreciated, and enjoyed, all the feedback that people have seen fit to send my way, from old schoolmates, to strangers near and far, who've had a comment or question about the book. I even enjoyed the kvetching of a disgruntled reviewer down in South Carolina, who crankily compared my prose to Danielle Steele's. (Go figure, on that one... but as far as Ms. Steele's royalty-generating powers are concerned, "from your lips, to God's ears!")

Many years ago, I read Loretta Lynn's autobiography, COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER. I much enjoyed, and was moved by the book. Her accounts of life in her childhood's back-country hollows reminded me of summers and holidays I spent in a similar rural, poor, but warm, adventuresome, and loving setting where my father grew up in the red-clay hills and forests of Mississippi. I sent Ms. Lynn a letter, telling her how much I'd enjoyed her book, and why.

Lo and behold, weeks later a postcard arrived in the mail, bearing the postmark of Hurricane Mills, the tiny town in Tennessee wholly owned by Ms. Lynn. It said, "Thank you for thinking of me. I hope all is well with you and your loved ones. Your friend, Loretta Lynn." It was all hand written, and the loops of the signature's "L"s were great swirling circles that the pen had clearly travelled around several times, as if the signer simply loved making them.
Well, if that ain't refrigerator material, I don't know what is, so I stuck it up there in a place of honor for quite a while. I still have her postcard, somewhere, generating warm and friendly vibes into my household.

(Also on the fridge, for years, has been a laminated photo of an elderly monk who was forced to leave behind his large goat and yak herds in Tibet, and flee to a refugee camp in northernmost India. He leans forward on his staff in tattered clothing, his face deeply lined by Ladahk's bright sun, and he's quoted as saying, "Because of my Buddhist training, I have learned to be happy anywhere.")

But back to giving and receiving feedback...I used to play music and sing songs at coffeehouses and colleges around Cambridge, MA. I always could feel a particular vibrant sort of energy loop that was created when an audience was receiving and reacting to the songs: the circle was complete. It took both singer and listener to truly create the song. So, many thanks for your feedback, Carol.

Your friend,
Kate Betterton

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