The Difficult Season



In this excerpt from PERSEPHONE IN HELL, Madeline Standish is Glory’s physics teacher. She’s caught Glory daydreaming again; unacceptable for one of God’s chosen people. Glory assures Mrs. Standish that she’ll try harder. Madeline is the quintessential Yankee – tough, proud, and determined to keep all things in their proper place.

“Madeline drew up her papers into a neat stack and erased the formulas on the board. It’s potluck tonight, she remembered. Descendants of the Mayflower night.

She looked out the window. Hope this blasted sleet doesn’t cancel our meeting. The difficult season is upon us. But I pride myself as a true Yank, and a little bad weather won’t change my plans.

She thought of the pickled cabbage dish she’d be bringing for potluck. It was the same dish she’d been making her whole life, following Grandma Prissy’s recipe. Her friend Helen, the home economics teacher, had suggested adding a pinch of cinnamon for excitement. But Madeline was unmoved. No need to change a thing, she thought with unbending conviction. It’s perfect just the way it is.”

To give Madeline credit, an inventive person can go mad waiting for a New England winter to pass. Perhaps those old weary Pilgrims had it right. Best to accept and hunker down, filling any irregular open gaps with a life that could be lived over and over again. Better to block those cold annoying breezy thoughts with considerations that don’t stray outside the norm. To surround oneself with casseroles and company as constant as the steady oaks. With tested deliberations that conquer the difficult season for generation after generation. With hearts all set in a single direction.

With chronic cough and March in the making…



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