Tag Archive | winter

Slant of the seasons


I know how cliched it is to complain about winter. My winter season was fairly mild, weather-wise. I didn’t get stuck in the snow or lose my footing on the ice. My house was warm. No, it wasn’t a physically painful season, nor an especially inconvenient one as winters sometimes are. But for me, it was dark months filled with depression and torture of the psyche. All that I thought I knew about the character and content of my nation was proven wrong. Every optimistic thought, so carefully cultivated through years of self-training, was crushed under a giant weight. This is the weight of loss, the reality of watching one’s homeland turn to cruelty, to indifference, to outright hatred. To a potentially fascist state. All in the time it takes for a season to turn.

The world spins
On lies
Tilts on greed
Revolves on anger
Rotates on control
You can’t stop the mighty sun
From rising over and again
Nor the cruel seasons
From wreaking their havocs

If you think about it
Prayer is just a way
To beg forgiveness
For all the falsehood
The corruption
The violence
The hurt inflicted

And the prayers are answered
But only in your head
Because, face it
Who is there to listen?
Who hears the animals d’terre?
But the world is satisfied
Dreams of heaven
That delusion
(If only good people go to heaven
It’s an empty place)

And the orb keeps spinning
The ugly rotations endure
Heaven will wait
The injured accept the slant of the seasons
And the tilt continues round



Snow in Massachusetts



There are people all over the world who live in climates where snow never falls. They don’t experience snow except in movies. They don’t know the cold that comes with snow. Some have never seen it for real, never touched it, never been closer than a picture in a book. I am decidedly not one of those people!

Some get a dusting of snow and think they understand snow. They don’t know snow. I know snow. I know snow in the most intimate, most familiar, most embarrassingly common manner. I know snow in the Platonic sense, that is, in its quintessential form.

I have known snow for so long, you’d think we’d be comfortable partners by now. You’d think we’d be caring for each other, helping each other thrive, wishing each other well and long life. You’d think so – you’d be wrong.

In this scene from my novel PERSEPHONE IN HELL, four year old Glory and her older sister Penny are running home from the candy store, through the snow to their protected play house under the pine trees in their yard.

“They had a good long walk ahead of them, three quarters of a mile or more. Just outside the store, Glory stopped…Must take off my mittens. They’re ugly orange and there’s a hole in the thumb. They’re not beautiful. She took off her mittens, stuffed them into her pockets, and continued on, holding her little bag tightly in her bare hands. Penny ran ahead, but Glory couldn’t run. She could barely walk. Her bare hands were frozen.

I’m so cold. My hands hurt. They’re all red. She wouldn’t let go of her candy bag to put her hands inside her pockets or put on her mittens…The snow fell a little harder. Glory’s hands couldn’t move. They were frozen to the bag. My legs are sore. I don’t want to walk anymore. My eyes are tired. She leaned against a telephone pole and decided to rest.

Just then, a man in a felt hat and top coat walked by. He stopped and looked at Gloria. I’m cold, so cold. And where is Penny? He said, “Little girl, where do you live? I’ll take you home.” Glory pointed down the street. Not supposed to talk to strangers.

The man picked her up and carried her down the street. Glory closed her eyes. So tired and cold. Need to rest. The man didn’t ask if they were close to home. He held her tightly and kept walking.”

Mother Nature and I, we don’t always get along. Like mothers and daughters everywhere, we don’t always agree. We disagree often, in fact. Every summer when the air is hellishly hot and humid. Late spring when the mosquitoes and black flies come out. Autumn was my favorite for the longest while, but then I noticed the leaves die off in fall. (They do so quite dramatically here.) And she and I fight outright every winter when the snow and cold and the early dark sky make me wonder how I am to survive until the seasons change again.



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…



Birth Song

I came screeching into life

On a frigid snowy evening

Winter day in Massachusetts

Winter day in Massachusetts

Not unlike this one
But oh, so many years past
And mother almost dropped me
Right in the car
While father panicked
Sliding down the road with
Rear wheel drive
Another beat up old black Buick
Skating on invisible ice
But she held on
My mother, strong
Determined to control the night
Swearing, carrying the pain of humankind
In her slim and tired form
She held tight
While Dad steered the way
Through the gloomy woods
And cloud laden fields
Cow pastures locked in white
Flakes as big as a baby’s fist
Shielding the murky sullen way
But through the frozen gloom
A wonder world appeared
An oasis in the bitter storm
And the hospital cheered us on,
Praise be!
Or so it seemed
Its glaring bright lights
Full-lit windows
Bigger than any moon
Starred, dotted with smiling faces
And helpful welcoming hands
They took us in

Thus was I born


Winter Blog



I’m taking a respite from a short story I’m writing to talk about winter. Specifically, winter in Massachusetts. Now, this winter has been quite a mild one. The only snow my little town has seen was on Halloween. At the time, it seemed a portent of doom, this early snowfall at the end of October. A sign that the climate gods were unhappy and frustrated. A statement of mistrust and disapproval from ye gods on high. Often we can get a dusting of snow in October, but not generally this type of significant storm that causes power outages, downed tree limbs, and all the other usual accoutrements of winter. A weariness set upon many; those of us who intensely dislike clearing our cars of ice and snow, those who have long commutes to work, who aren’t skiers or snowmobilers, we who get little joy out of the white stuff. We anticipated a long, dreadfully difficult season.

Turns out though, we got depressed prematurely. Because since that October storm, we’ve had nothing more than a few flakes of snow in the air. We’ve experienced some very warm days when not only didn’t we need boots, hats, and mittens, but we didn’t even need jackets. This is freaky, I tell you. It is not usual. I had to ask my virtual friend from Canada to write a poem about snow for me, because I can’t write about what I don’t see. I told him: write about the starkness of the trees in winter, your breath clinging to the atoms of air in front of you, the moss peaking up from under the snow. Of course he didn’t (I don’t have much luck with persuading people to do my bidding.)

Do I actually miss the snow? No, that can’t be. But perhaps I miss writing about it. So, here’s a first draft on a winter poem. Be kind – I have nothing to go on this year.


Winter poem

Turkeys drenched in frozen rain
Peck at the desolate, rock hard ground
Crowd around the tiny patch of moss green
Peaking up from under the snow
Flutter and run at the sound
Of the garage door opener

And before you drive through the doors
Stop at the mailbox at the side of the road
Step onto the ice pavement
Brave the storm, the sloppy snow
And watch your breath cling to the atoms of air
In front of you
Collect the junk mail flyers
And discount magazine offers
Back in the car, honk at the birds
And drive through the gates of heavenly warmth
The blessed garage

While the turkeys
Fly confused up into the lacy trees
Stark nude, with their brown twilight dress
And hunker down for more