It’s a neighborhood masquerade. Little characters toddle from their homes and gather all at once along sidewalks. We marvel at ninja moves, watch Robin Hood pull back his bow, and learn the trick of dodging the light saber. We tote around little Leia, keeping her warm beyond the braids twirled in place to make convenient earmuffs. No matter the shivers, she nods yes for more treats.

Our words come out funny through half-frozen lips, but we talk anyway and feel the warmth of this door-to-door festival. We laugh at a friend barreling down the hill on his son’s stroller. We tousle the fur of the prodigal Bichons who slept in a stranger’s house last week. Another neighbor caters to us parents, ladeling cups of hot apple cider and telling us about the arches in the window woodwork more than a century old. And then there’s our aging neighbor across the street given two days to live after a drunk driver bruised her heart. Here she was last night, months after the accident, handing out candy.

These are the treats to me. My children open up their bags for chocolate bars and lemon drops. I open up for this– these little bits of story handed out in my own neighborhood. They are the richness of scene and character, whether I use them in my writing or not. But I’d rather keep these little bits than lose them. If I don’t, I’m like a trick-or-treater with a hole in my candy bucket. The sweets fall out and trail behind, left to the raccoons.

Whether in the moment or at the end of the day, I take time to record a brief memory cue or one-liner at the bottom of my planner page. Sometimes I record a bit on the iTalk app on my phone. Sometimes I snap a picture of an inspiring object or scene and share it on Instagram or store it in my private One Thousand Gifts app.

You can carry a small leatherbound book (dated or blank) like Hemingway did. You can ramble your findings on your phone or gather them in a photo stream with a good caption. But make sure that somehow, some way, you’re taking notes or you’ll likely find yourself back home empty, a sad-faced kid with nothing much to chew on.

{Have you been taking notes to give yourself something to work with later? How can you make it more convenient to gather the bits of story handed out in your everyday? Do you prefer the old-school or high tech options?}

This is Day 15 of my series 31 Days ~ Preserve Your Story, linking up with The Nester’s annual 31 Days of Change.

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