Tag Archives: winter

Welcome, Spring

And a fine Equinox to you all.

Today started out with sleet on the roads and ice on the trees. It’s ending with blue sky, and temps in the forties, and rivers running down the hill. In New England, winter and spring can share a day like that. I’m following their lead and working on balance today. A dozen things I’d like to be doing, a dozen things I should be doing, and this little sliver of time in which to do them.

I could, for example, clean cobwebs from corners, or I could figure out what to make for two different potlucks in the next week, or I could research public transportation in Syracuse.

Or I could watch a documentary about kids playing chess while knitting myself a hat with yarn I picked out today (multitasking–has to be good, right?), and then stay up late finishing the book I’m reading. Is there really any question as to which is the right choice?

No, there isn’t, is there?

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Greetings from the last days of snow

Did you miss me?

Hopefully not. Hopefully, your life has been so unbearably rich and full that you haven’t had even a minute in which to think, oh, that blogger, the driftwood one, where has she gone?

If that’s not the case, if you’ve been checking your email every day, hoping for my return, I apologize. But don’t tell me. Make me believe you haven’t noticed I’ve been missing.

I should be back to my usual erratic schedule. There is sun now, and less snow than there was, and the chickadees have started their hey, come here often call in place of their it’s winter and yet I’m still cheerful call, so I have to assume spring is near. The kids and I had a snowball fight the other day with bare hands and wet snow, which tells me I also forgive winter and will be ready to see her once she comes round again.

But for now I have no interest in thinking about anything but the possibility of open windows and warm breezes in the near future. Is it warm where you are? Have you, by any chance, seen grass? There will be no green around my house for some time still. I’m trying to appreciate the moon on the snow instead. A night hike might be the perfect thing to do.

Tell me something about how your winter has been. Unless, of course, you’ve been enjoying some other season, in which case you should work on making me jealous. Trust me, it won’t be hard.


Sunday morning snapshot

The house smells of curry. My hands do as well, faintly, the tips of my fingers a little yellow from messing about with spices. Stronger than curry is the scent of clementines when I touch my face. That, more than anything, more than the snow outside, more than the chill wind that blows in when someone opens the door, tells me winter’s coming.

There are chickpeas bubbling on the stove. There’s bread rising on the counter. There’s a new sourdough starter fermenting in the corner. Ripley, the “young” cat at seventeen, is migrating around the house with the sun, finding a warm patch here and there.

(Have I told the story about how Ripley got her name? She came to us at one week old, when her feral mother dropped her by the side of the road. Aside from being much too young to have no mother, she also had been exposed to distemper in utero and had a terrible case of the shakes. I felt like she needed a tough name in order to survive, and at that moment the toughest one I could think of was Ripley, mighty fighter of aliens.)

Our old lady dog is sleeping on the recliner. It’s a break from my son’s bed, which she believes was bought for her and which she generously shares with him. She likes winter coat season because coats that drop to the floor are also fair game as beds.

There’s tea that’s already been drunk, and tea still to be made. I owe my dear spouse a chapter of Crossroads, and owe myself another game of solitaire. I still have carrot soup to make tonight as well, and it seems like the kind of day when all I should do is bake. Almond…something with almond, because that is what I want when things turn cold. There’s the threat of a nor’easter this week, and that brings out the chipmunk in me, stashing food around the house. I’d be grateful to pass through another winter without any of the weeklong power outages we’ve had every few years of late.

But that is not today. Today is blue sky and brisk wind and pines dancing in the back yard. The kind of day I could find fox tracks in the fresh snow if I were to look. The kind of day to close my eyes and start to imagine a Montana blizzard, and a seventeen-year-old girl wandering out into it and finding…well, that’s mine to write.


April update

More snow! Yes, for all my talk about how winter must end, it simply won’t. Yesterday I had the pleasure of a) having my teeth cleaned; b) doing my taxes; c) calling the IRS to clarify something I’d received conflicting information on, listening to the same thirty-second music loop for an hour, and then being hung up on; all while d) sleet pounded on the windows.

But we have frog eggs in a wading pool in the backyard, and the phoebes have returned to work on their dilapidated nest, and the daffodils are blooming, so I’m holding fast to my belief that warm days will come.

I’m putting the finishing touches on a novelette this weekend, one that was supposed to be a nice little short story. It isn’t. I’m finally feeling back in the writing groove (yay!). I’ve also been doing research for Crossroads. It’s been a very very long time since I’ve worked on any novel outside of the Aware world, and it’s taken me a while to switch tracks. It’s hard to believe I’ll ever have the same closeness with another set of characters that I have with Wren and Isis and Juno.

But I think Crossroads, which I keep trying to write as Crosswords (the story of a girl who trades her soul for a chance at winning the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament) (hey, wait a minute, that actually sounds like something fun to write…), will be something good. Blue Riley (Really it’s Sapphire Blue, but my mom was weird that way) has this determination to her that I love. And hiking boots, worn leather hiking boots, and bravery, and…well, I’m getting there. We’ll be friends yet. There are some sections of her story that I’m dying to write.


In which I do not manage to summarize 2012

I started writing up some great state of the year post yesterday. I stopped when an owl came to visit. In the last week, the snow has finally arrived. There are tracks running through the backyard–dog, fox, children–and the leaves we didn’t rake are now hidden away.

The skies have been gray as well, and against such a background–dull silver and the black of branches–a flying owl stands out clearly. She landed in one of the pines and stayed there for much of the afternoon. During the winter, when the nights are so silent, owl calls carry a long way. It’s how I’ve come to think of winter nights since moving here fifteen years ago, a time of moonlight on snow and great echoing voices.

The owl came to usher 2012 out. The sun is here to welcome in 2013.

I’m not sure what to say about 2012. If I take a simple arithmetic approach, it had many pluses. It was a year in which I had seven stories published, completely overshadowing 2011’s two. There was a brief giddy period in the spring in which I sold every story I had available to sell, and I suddenly felt like a WRITER.

What I discovered is that I am very much in my adolescence as a writer. I’m tripping over my own feet everywhere I go, and stressing over the unruly state of my hair in the morning. At some point I will grow out of it, know who I am and where I am going.

But…but there is power in adolescence too. There is freedom in not yet knowing it all, in testing and trying and rushing into places that maturity would dictate foolish.

There is fun.

The thing about writerhood is that there is no clear graduation date. I’ve passed most of my arbitrary markers at this point. I sold my first story. I made my first professional sale. I earned my SFWA membership. I received an invitation to submit. I made it on to paper and into the library. I have an agent.

I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing.

Both my children are involved in wilderness skills classes. They have fire challenges regularly. Make a fire that …burns this long, this high, with these materials. Make your bow drill, find your tinder, work with wet logs.

The path to the fire varies. The fire itself still warms.

This is my 2013 goal. Keep learning. Find those challenges and test my skills. Learn to keep my feet under me, learn that unruly hair has its own beauty. Listen to the owls on winter nights, enjoy the sun on my face on a January day.

Happy New Year to you all!


Interlude

Yesterday there were thirteen turkeys in the front yard. Four adults, and the rest half-grown young ones from this year. There were also two turkeys in a pine tree out back. If you’ve never seen a turkey in a tree, trust me, they don’t exactly look at home there.

There are chipmunks with full cheeks everywhere, and red tomatoes, and apples coming in. There are beautiful, spotless blue skies, and that wonderful light that tells us the dark is coming. It’s the time of year to wonder why I didn’t spend more time outside, and why summers are so short in New England.

In another six months the snow will be almost over, and the sun will be stronger and stronger. We’ll be waiting for the birds to return, and the grass, and hungry for the first asparagus of the year. We’ll be thinking about no longer wearing coats, and cracking open windows now and then.

But for today, the trick is to look neither back nor forward, to stay right here, in this perfect, endless summer afternoon.