A Wintry Interlude

I had a really great post idea in mind for this week. But, by the time I was able to sit down and write it … Well, it had more or less fled. There are other things I want to talk about and, maybe, need to talk about, too. But I don’t feel like I have the mental energy to deal with any of them. Yes, this is me … running away from my thoughts and feelings.

Instead, I am going to talk about the wintry interlude currently happening in my corner of the universe. I remember feeling eerily unsettled around Christmas because our temperatures were hovering in the low to mid-fifties (that’s Fahrenheit, y’all). It just felt much too warm and weird, and I did not enjoy having rain instead of snow to celebrate my holidays. I admit I felt a little bit cheated because it looked like my beloved Winter was not going to materialize.

Ha! I was so silly for feeling this way. Because, of course, Winter managed to find me. Here we are, in February, and our normal Winter temperatures are roaring in. On Friday, it was negative two degrees when I started work in the morning. By noon, it had warmed up all the way to eleven. It was a heat wave, I tell ‘ya! I know you are probably reading this and shaking your head in disbelief and thinking about how nutty I am. But I’m going to put this out there, anyhow: I love those cold temperatures. I hate hot weather. I hate humid weather. And I love the cold, even when I am shivering and complaining about it.

I know, I know. If I love it so much, why would I complain about it? Because I’m human. And that’s what we humans do. We complain. About everything. Even about the things we love.

Even better than the sub- or near-zero temperatures is the fact that we have snow! We have mountains and mountains of snow right now. I am not kidding about this. There is about a foot of snow in my yard. My dogs are loving it. Even my fourteen-year-old girl runs outside into the yard, barking her head off as she tunnels through the snow drifts. My younger dog, who is eleven, is having the time of his life. He bounds through the snow like a giant, hairy jackrabbit. And comes inside looking like a living icicle. It never fails to crack me up, which is a great way to break up my work days.

I’m not really one to play around in the snow. I don’t want to run through it. I don’t want to build a snowman or go sledding. I don’t have any interest in tossing snowballs. I just like looking at it. I like to stand in it and see it come up to the tops of my boots. I like to watch the sunlight twinkling off of the little ice crystals like so much magic suddenly turned real. I love to watch frost make lacy patterns on the windowpanes of my house and the door to our backyard from the garage. I like how it smells so fresh and clean and watery. I like to see how the evening shadows slowly grow across the blanket of white in my backyard, slowly creeping fingers of blue to signal the end of another day.

All too soon, my beautiful snow will melt away. It is already fading from our driveway, thanks to the last few sunny days we have had. It will leave behind a swampy mud-pit of a yard, along with muddy dog footprints on my floors and that unmistakable “wet dog” smell that seems to seep into everything. In all honesty, it’s the “wet dog” smell that truly signals the coming of Spring. I know other people will say it is that first sight of a cardinal or robin in their yard, or the first daffodils poking through the frozen ground. Those people would be wrong. You know it’s Spring when your whole house smells like “wet dog” because all the snow has melted.

I’m not going to lie. I’m dreading it more than a little bit. Spring is beautiful and everything. And I know that, somewhere deep inside, I will be ready for the change and for a breath of fresh air by the time Spring actually arrives. But I will miss my beautiful snow. And I will miss my wintry interlude.

A Snowy Adventure …

Have you ever been stuck in the snow in the middle of nowhere, Illinois? I have. Just a couple of days ago, in fact.

It all started out innocently enough. After a looooong string of snowy, cold, and gray days, we finally had a couple of days of sunshine this past Thursday (or was it Wednesday? Hmmm …) and Friday. On the first sunny day, we decided to head out in the evening for a little family drive. We were all feeling a bit stir crazy from the pandemic and the cold and the snow. Hubby and I haven’t even been able to walk because it’s been too cold. It was so nice being in the car, just enjoying the sunlight and being outside the house. Of course, I neglected to take my DSLR with me on that trip, and we had the most glorious sunset that evening. It was bold and magnificent and awe-inspiring. I grabbed some pics with my phone, but I felt dissatisfied with them, overall.

So, when Friday dawned with sunshine and blue skies, I was excited. My whole plan was to head out in the afternoon, about an hour or so before sunset, to enjoy the light and, hopefully, grab some fabulous sunset pics with my DSLR. The whole day was sunny and gorgeous. Cold, but gorgeous. Until it was time to head out for pics. Like clockwork, the clouds rolled in. It was like the Universe was trying to tell me something.

I refused to be daunted. I had planned to take pictures, and that was what I was going to do! I sent my “RAWR!” out at the Universe, and determined we would head out for sunset, after all. Hubby and Darling Daughter were more than willing, even with the cloudy skies. Have I mentioned we are all feeling more than a little stir crazy?

It was not a wasted trip in the least. I love Winter Sky. It’s almost hard for me to put it into words. There is something so peaceful and compelling about the way the skies turn pastel and soft during a Wintery sunset. I feel like these muted skies happen often in the Winter, but particularly so on cloudy days. It’s almost like I can look at those beautiful skies, with their soft pinks and purple-toned blues and blue-grays, and I can breathe again. I feel stress fall away, and my soul is uplifted. Winter Sky is like pastel watercolors that paint themselves before my very eyes. Sunset is a slow and unstoppable process. It marches across the sky at its own pace. And yet, I find I cannot take my eyes off of it. I could sit for hours, just watching the sky change colors and begin to darken toward night.

But, much as I love it, this story is not about Winter Sky. This story is about being stuck in the snow in the middle of nowhere, Illinois. I don’t know if all of Illinois is like this, but our town is weirdly surrounded by rural land, roads with no visible road signs or names, and corn fields. Lots and lots of corn fields. Our town is not big. It has around 100K in population, and the back roads lead to other, smaller towns that surround it. Most everything is flat, which means there are not many landmarks. This is particularly so in the Winter, when the corn is gone, and the fields are bare and full of snow. It doesn’t take long to get turned around or completely lost out in the midst of those back roads that snake between those fields.

This is exactly what happened on Friday. We were following the sunset, trying to get whatever photos we could. And, before we knew it, we were completely turned around and a bit lost. Not to fear, though, because we had GPS. And all wheel drive. What could stop us?

I’ll tell you what: S-N-O-W.

Our GPS took us down a road that was not plowed. We saw a sign saying it was not plowed, but the snow did not look that deep. This was our first mistake. And, clearly, it shows that we don’t know what it truly means to live through a snowy winter in Illinois! The GPS was pointing us down that road, so we headed in that direction. Once we got a little ways into the road, we realized the snow was much deeper than we thought. And we were in our very low sedan — mistake number 2. We got stuck once, but we managed to get unstuck and felt that we had no choice but to continue moving forward. We couldn’t really turn around and head back because the snow was too deep for that. Was this mistake number three? Maybe.

We made it a bit farther before we got stuck a second time. By this time, we were well and truly STUCK. We couldn’t back out. We couldn’t go forward. We couldn’t dig the car out enough to get it moving. Basically, we were at “leave the car here until Spring”. It was not pretty. And it was getting dark. And remember how I mentioned that a lot of these roads don’t have visible signs? If you are from here, you know exactly where you are at all times. But we are clearly not from here. We had no idea where we were.

I was the only one in the car wearing snow boots. So I got elected to hike back to the nearest house while Hubby and Darling Daughter tried to get a tow truck. I was not privy to all their efforts, but I know it involved a disastrous call with AAA. By the way, if you are ever stuck in the snow in Illinois, don’t bother calling AAA. They won’t even try to come help you. They won’t even try to figure out where you are! There was a second tow company that was closed due to illness. And then, my hubby finally called the tow company that actually came out and rescued us. Of course, since we didn’t know where we were, Darling Daughter had to figure out the GPS coordinates so that the tow truck could find us.

While all of this was happening, I was hiking through knee-high snow and 19 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. I originally thought the house was only about a quarter of a mile or a mile away. It turned out it was probably closer to two miles, and it was through deep snow the whole way. The whole time I am struggling through the drifts and the ruts in the road, I kept thinking to myself, “Self, why were we so stupid? How in the world did we think we could get through all this dang snow?!?”

My entire walk through the knee-deep snow was for nothing. Just about the time I got to the porch of the house, Darling Daughter texted that they were on the phone with a tow truck, and that I should come back. Well, I take that back. She texted just after I struggled up the house’s icy steps onto the porch and knocked at the door. Guess what? No one came to the door. So it was a wasted trip in more ways than one. I sighed and carefully made my way back down the icy steps. And then, re-traced my way through the ruts and the deep drifts all the way back to the car. It’s Sunday evening, and I’m still coughing from all that cold air, by the way. And I’m still sore as heck!

By the time I got back to the car (after tripping and falling into a pile of snow), the tow company had figured out where we were. They told us to sit tight, and one of the drivers would be to us in about thirty-five or forty minutes. And so, we waited. And tried not to think about how we were in the middle of nowhere … in the cold … in the snow. Actually, it wasn’t all that bad. It was peaceful and quiet. And we had some good family time. We laughed and talked and shared memories.

Eventually, we saw the tow truck come up behind us. It was some distance away, but by this time it was dark. We could see the headlights. They parked and stopped for the longest time before, slowly, turning around and leaving. I looked at Hubby and said, “I think they can’t get to us.” But my tone was one of disbelief. It never occurred to me that the tow truck might get stuck. And yet, that is exactly what happened! The first driver got stuck twice. He shoveled his truck out both times, only to get stuck again. Eventually, he realized trying to move forward was futile.

The company owner called us and told us that the first truck was stuck and not able to reach us. He was coming to us with a bigger truck, so we should just sit tight. He was out of town on another job, and it would be about another hour before he could reach us. But he was coming. And so, we waited some more. By this time, it was pitch dark. And, of course, there were no clouds, so we couldn’t even look at the stars while we waited. Tempers were running a bit shorter by this point. Darling Daughter was hungry. Hubby was annoyed with all of our bad life choices. I had to go to the bathroom. Plus, my clothes were all wet. Remember how I fell into that bank of snow? Oh, and it had started to snow. Yeah …

Eventually, we saw the lights from the second truck behind our car. They were far back, around where the first truck had gotten stuck. I saw them stop and pause for a long time. I saw them flicker, and I knew the driver was walking in front of them, moving from one side of the truck to the other. I felt this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, because I was pretty sure this second truck was also stuck. I made myself keep this thought to myself, because everyone in the car was feeling guardedly optimistic at the sight of those lights. I didn’t want to ruin that.

The truck lights came a bit closer. Then, they stopped again. And I saw the flicker of someone walking in front of them again, moving from one side of the truck to the other. I had that same sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. But eventually, it kept moving forward until it was actually there, right behind our car!

In the end, it turned out the second truck also got stuck. But because it was higher than the first one, the drivers were able to dig it out. For what it’s worth, the first driver never left. He just turned his truck around and parked it on the side of the road, slightly out of our view. The two guys were so kind and friendly. And they were a very welcome sight! They drove their bigger truck back and forth over the snow behind us to pack it down. They ended up digging our car out of all that snow. They hooked chains to our back end, and they basically just winched us out of the snow while Hubby kept the wheel pointing straight so that we didn’t run off the road.

As Hubby was paying the bill, the second driver asked, “What kind of car is this, anyhow?” Hubby replied with the make and model and asked why, and the driver replied that he thought he wanted to buy one. He was very impressed we had managed to make it so far down that road. Hey, if you do something stupid, do it in the most spectacular manner possible. Right? Right!

So. All’s well that ends well, as they say. We managed to get winched out of the snow. The tow guys were kind enough not to laugh at us to our faces. We got turned around and headed toward home. We had left our house around 4:30PM that afternoon, and we finally made it home at 9PM that night. We made eggs, bacon, and pancakes for dinner. And we watched some TV together before heading to bed. I was exhausted from my snowy adventure. I’m still exhausted from it!

And I have resolved that I shall not leave the house again until Spring. Or, until the next time I want to take pretty sunset pictures.

Hello, Spring!

Spring is officially here. I don’t know what date WordPress will put on this post, but I am sitting here typing it at 8:55 PM on March 21. Which means it is the second day of Spring. I generally don’t enjoy Spring. I am allergic to dust and trees and grasses and weeds and mold and all kinds of flowers and … Well, probably a lot more things than I can remember to list in here. Basically, I am allergic to every single thing Spring brings. Instead of being able to enjoy the warm breezes and the soft sun on my face, I am forced to double and triple up on my allergy medication and drive around with my car windows closed and the a/c blasting full force. On any normal year, I do not greet Spring with open arms or joy in my heart.

But this has not been a normal year. It has been a year of stress and disappointment and worry and more stress. Winter was supposed to bring us mounds and mounds of fluffy, beautiful snow, according to our seasonal forecasts. Instead, it brought us warmer than average days and rain. Lots and lots of rain. Which, in turn, meant all the things I am allergic to bloomed in the Winter, too. There was no relief for this hacking and sneezing allergy sufferer.

I don’t dislike rain, by the way. I am from a place where it doesn’t rain nearly enough, so rain holds a bit of a special place in my heart. There is something kind of magical and mysterious and fun about a gray and rainy day. But … we have had months of these types of days. If I’m being honest, I have to admit I am more than a little sick of rain. I am also sick of my muddy yard and the dog foot prints that are all over my floors.


So I was ready for Spring this year. The idea that it was quickly on its way, coupled with the unseasonably warm temperatures we have had for most of the winter, had me thinking of pastel colors, flowers, and buzzing bees. I was ready for the smell of fresh earth and green grass, even if I had to enjoy these things in extremely short bursts. And I thought it was beyond time for some bright colors in a world that seems to have gone all too gray.

Today, Spring looks like a fluffy white, slushy mess outside my window. I got so excited about Spring’s arrival that it seems I forgot about our annual March dumping of snow. And it arrived, right on schedule, today — just in time to celebrate Spring. It’s cold. It’s wet. Everything is frozen. In short, things are unexpectedly unpleasant.



But … school was canceled. And it will be canceled again for tomorrow. My sweet girl and husband were both home today, and we nested inside our house. We laughed and joked. My daughter and I played a video game together. We had home made tortilla soup. I watched the dogs playing in the snow. We were all warm. And safe. And together. In short, things were unexpectedly awesome. I can’t think of a better way to welcome Spring.


birds on a wire ... in snowThere’s snow on the ground
And over my toes.
When I fell down,
It went up my nose.

There’s snow on the roof
And the tops of the trees.
It could be a goof,
But I’m done with this freeze.

There’s snow on the robin
Pecking the ground.
He’s angry and sobbin’,
For Spring can’t be found.

I know it’s out there
With flowers and bees.
And warm, breezy air,
Come on, Springtime … Please!!


Snowy Day

yard ornaments covered with snowMoving forward on a snowy day;
Time to laugh and time to play.
Pause to write a few things down
‘Bout the jewels in Nature’s crown.
But words won’t come to me,
Explain the wonder my eyes see.
No words for sparkle, glitter, or shine;
Just can’t seem to make them mine.
No way to tell how my heart sings
At new beauty of everyday things.
And so, what more is there to say?
I’m moving forward on a snowy day.


The Ice Cometh …

So, how does that Christmas carol go? Something about, “Gone away is the bluebird … Here to stay is a new bird …”

One of my Well, I can tell you one thing, for sure: If the bluebird had been around yesterday, she would have been coated in ice.

So the snow from my last post faded away into oblivion. Did it, as expected, leave behind mud? Or grungy-gray slush? Oh no! Not this snow. This little snowstorm, apparently, had its “big girl pants” on, because our minuscule bit of snow melted away into ice. Not only that, but it brought along wind and freezing rain in order to put on one glorious show.

faded rose blossom covered in ice. dec 2013Yesterday morning, my hubby told me I should get up early-ish (if left to my own devices, I will choose to sleep in, every time), because there was “some ice out there”. He thought I might enjoy the photo opportunities. I have to admit I was more than a little bit grumbly about having to roust myself out of my warm and snuggly bed at the inhumanely awful time of 8:30 in the AM. (Yes, I am being a bit sarcastic there. This is an early time for me, but I realize it is not for most of the normal people out there in the world.) I thought to myself, “Why the heck am I bothering with this? It’s just a little bit of ice. What’s the big deal?”

icy trees and sidewalk in my neighborhood. dec 2013I was not mentally prepared for what I would see once I stepped outside my house. “Awe” seems so cliche and silly, but it is an apt description. Nearly every surface within view was coated in a thin sheet of ice. The early(ish) morning sunlight, although weak from filtering through heavy cloud cover, hit the high spots and seemed to sparkle and twinkle off the glassy coating. Each tree branch looked as if it had been dipped right into the stuff. They hung low and heavy toward the ground, burdened by the extra weight of their beauty. The last of the fall roses hadn’t escaped. Each one wore a new, shining decoration, as if Mother Nature had decided to ┬ápreserve each delicate blossom for us to enjoy through winter months that tend to be filled with brown and gray.

brown leaves in ice. dec 2013There is something eerie and unsettling about an ice-bound landscape. There is no noise. The birds and the squirrels are all hiding away, tucked in safe and warm, so the familiar, lilting songs and the rustle of the leaves are missing. It’s funny how familiar noises seem to make a hole in the world when they are no longer there. I hear the squirrels chasing each other through the leaves pretty much every single day; I get to the point where I almost don’t notice it at all. But then, when it’s not there … Well, the world is no longer complete. There might be a breeze, but the trees don’t bend and sway to its rhythm. They are too heavy and brittle. And so, everything seems still — but not a peaceful kind of stillness. This is more tense, as if the world all around me is waiting for something to happen. As if everything has paused to watch and wait for whatever comes next, and none of us know what that thing might be. It’s only when the breeze kicks up into a genuine wind that the trees move. Then, there is sound: the clicking of ice-bound branches as they strike against each other. It’s a small kind of music.

my mums in ice. dec 2013Today, there was more snow. It settled on the ground in fluffy drifts, softening the glistening, unforgiving brilliance of the ice. As the temperatures rose, it began to melt. Of course, the ice melted, too. Our streets are clear now, and this second round of snow has already turned to slushy mud in my yard and at the corners of the curbs.

All of which, of course, means that I have to return to the real world tomorrow. There will be muddy dog prints in the entry way and muddy boot prints on the carpet. There will be worries over how I will accomplish all the things I must do within the stingy amount of time allotted for them. I will wonder what to make for dinner. I will wish I didn’t have to cook dinner at all. I will go to the grocery store and on a field trip with my daughter. I will have to tackle cleaning out my over-stuffed office, because, apparently, the house-cleaning fairies are on strike this month. I will hate every second of it. I will put gas in my car. Everything will return to the comforting mundanity in which I live on a daily basis — in which we all live on a daily basis.

red berries in ice. dec 2013But, underneath all of that, I will remember that, for one magical moment, I stepped outside my house and walked through an entire world made of glass. When the boring reality of my life eats away at me and I want to scream out of frustration, I can close my eyes and see all of it there, right in my mind. I can remember the clicking of the tree branches and the way all the colors seemed brighter and more real than ever before. And I will know that, if we look hard enough, even “normal” can be something pretty special.







And Then … I Paused

We had our first “snow day” today. I suppose it’s really more of a snow/sleet/freezing rain kind of day, but whatever. Snow fell out of the sky, so, for this winter junkie, it totally counts!

I get stupidly excited about snow. I’m not sure why, but it seems to grab hold of that little kid who lives deep down inside of me somewhere. I usually keep her hidden, but snowy days drag her out into the light, where she promptly starts squealing in excitement and dreaming of making snowmen.

My truck  yard light, covered in the first snow of the winter. Dec. 8, 2013


I suppose it’s terribly cliche of me, but I think the thing I like most about the snow is how quiet it is. I love to watch the flakes fall from the sky, drifting and twisting on the slightest breeze. They seem so fragile and delicate, and, yet, they obliterate everything in their path, turning even the most rank and disgusting things into something new and beautiful. A surreal landscape decorated with the winking sparkle of nature’s diamonds.

There is something peaceful about it. So often, life is too much. It’s too busy, and it moves too quickly. It’s full of people who are grumpy and rude, or, even, just plain cruel. It seems we are all crammed up against each other and all fighting, tooth and nail, for the same little tidbits life tosses at us. We all want the same parking space … or the last item on the shelf … or to be first in line … or to get home faster than anyone around us … or to make sure we’re the ones the world notices, that everyone knows we are the ones who count. We scratch and claw and honk and spit at each other, until life comes to resemble one of those ridiculous Black Friday videos that go viral, showing two ridiculous people punching each other over who should get the cheapest crappy TV set.

My neighbor's rose, covered in the first snow of the winter. Dec. 8, 2013

I often feel overwhelmed by life and by this place where I live. I long for a quieter, simpler life — perhaps in a smaller town — and I find myself ending most days feeling a bit shell-shocked and beaten up by those around me. But, as the first snowflakes tumble to earth, I hold my breath in anticipation. It feels like, all around me, the entire world does the same, as if my universe decided, just at that moment, to step off the tilt-a-whirl for a little while. The very air around me feels heavy with expectation and the deliciously painful struggle of waiting for the change that, soon, will come.

I stand at my window and watch as the familiar view in front of my house shifts and changes. The curbing around the flower beds disappears. The metal bird beneath my cherry tree becomes some new and mysterious beast. My beloved roses go into hiding beneath a blanket of fluffy white.

I listen as the sounds change, too. The rumble of the train deepens as it rolls over tracks laden with snow. The sounds of people honking at each other on the highway seem more distant, and I can even begin to believe they no longer exist. The sounds of traffic on the street in front of my house fades away, replaced by the quietly comforting shush of tires against a snowy street.

my azalea bush, covered in the first snow of winter. dec. 8, 2013Tomorrow will probably bring a return to normality. It might herald the pressing rush of trying to accomplish all the things I didn’t manage to do today, as well as all the things I am supposed to do tomorrow. It might bring with it gray skies full of rain, a muddy yard, and the smell of wet dog all over my house. And that’s all right. I suppose tomorrow is going to have to take care of itself.

For today, there is peace. And quiet. And space to breathe. And that’s enough.


The Hush

Everyone’s taking a “snow day” today in my little corner of the universe. It’s cold and wet outside. The wind is blowing enough that I can hear a little bit of a howl as it whooshes past the corner of my house. The snow has stacked up nicely in big, gloppy piles in the yard and on our deck. And the flakes keep on coming. Sometimes, a bit less … Sometimes a bit more … But always falling down toward earth with a delicate drift as they ride the wind, first in one direction and, then, in another.

Holly and snow in my neighborhood.I like snow. So much so that, if I was still in elementary school, I might even go so far as to say I “like like” it. Anyone who’s ever been an elementary-aged school kid knows that’s pretty serious business. Every year, I look forward to each and every chance of snow, holding my breath and hoping with every forecast. And, when snow finally comes, I enjoy every moment of it. I grew up in the Texas Hill Country, and we hardly ever had snow. All the way into adulthood — until I moved to Virginia — I had seen snow, maybe, three times. As a result, I’ve never lost that little-kid feeling of awe over the whole thing. It’s still magical to me, and it takes me back, every single time, to the little kid who lives somewhere deep inside of me and has never managed to grow up. I might feel differently if we had to deal with mountains and mountains of snow for months at a time. But we don’t, so I feel I can give into my giddily childish joy with a clear conscience.

Birds on a wire during snow. Vienna, VAThere’s something calming and peaceful about being inside on a snowy day. I love to stand by the window, feeling cozy and warm, and watch the snow fall. It’s so quiet, but not the type of quiet caused by the absence of sound. It’s more that the whole world — all the noise and bustle we’re used to seeing on a daily basis — has been shushed for the time being. Occasionally, I will hear the swish-swish of tires against the wet street, but, mostly, there’s a sense that the whole world has, like me, hunkered down to wait for “real life” to resume. It’s liberating. To stand there — with nowhere particular to go, knowing that all plans have been cancelled for the time being, realizing that nothing “has” to get done right now — is sweet and beautiful. This must be freedom, in its purest sense.

Geese in the snow. Vienna, VA.I love how snow, for all its beauty and delicate silence, is also relentless. It is determined. It covers everything in its wake, transforming the ordinary into something more. Trees and rocks and cars become fantastical shapes that ignite the imagination: Is there a unicorn over there, prancing across the snowy driveway? Oh no … That’s silly. Perhaps it’s a dragon, instead. Even the ugly parts of my back yard, muddied since the beginning of winter, disappear beneath this magical, white blanket. For a short time, everything is beautiful and new — a pleasure to gaze upon, instead of a reminder of tasks left undone.

Farm in Snow. Warrenton, VAOnce upon a time, when I was a little girl, someone told me raindrops were the angels’ tears. I never really thought about it. I was a kid, after all. And it made sense, especially at funerals, where everyone around me was sad. This morning, though, I thought about that for the first time in many years. And I wondered: If raindrops are tears, what are snowflakes? Maybe, they are more like angel-kisses — little bits of delicately beautiful love blown down from Heaven to remind us that the ordinary is special, too. There is beauty and wonder all around us, if we just take a moment to stop and see it. And, sometimes, it’s okay to step back and take a breather: one, glorious snow day on which you have nowhere you need to be and nothing, in particular, to do.






Snow Day

Today is a “waiting day”. It’s gray and overcast, with the clouds hanging low in the sky — fluffy but also solid. They seem to wrap around the world, a cosmic afghan inviting the earth to snuggle in for a bit. All day, it has felt as if all eyes and thoughts turn upward, searching the sky as we all wait for what might be our region’s first “real” snowfall of the season.

I’ve found that opinions vary on the whole snowfall thing. Some folks hate it with a passion. They hunch their shoulders against it and hurry along their way, retreating into overcoats and fuzzy hoods like grumpy turtles. Others love it. They revel in the daintily lazy way each flake floats down to earth, and can’t wait to be out there in the midst of it all, embracing and enjoying each and every frigid moment.

With rare exception, I find myself firmly encamped in the second group. I am one of those overly enthusiastic, ecstatic folks who celebrate every second of a snowy day. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a place where our seasons tended to be a few weeks of “HOT”, followed by months of “REALLY, REALLY HOT”, but, whatever the reason, I look forward to snowy days all year long. And I feel somewhat cheated when those frosty beauties get lost on their way to my house.

Art Journal: Snow / Mixed MediaSomething about sitting next to the window in my cozy house, watching those white flakes dance down from above, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And being out in it is just as heavenly. I turn my face to the sky, hold out my arms, and spin and spin and spin until I am out of breath, giddy, dizzy, and laughing. I feel just like one of those snow flakes that fall onto my face, melting into a chilly wetness that must be what magic feels like. I love the laughter that breaks the frigid air as I chase my daughter through the swirling white, flinging snow at each other with every step.

But I think my very favorite part is what comes before all the fun and hijinx — and that’s the waiting. Feeling the air turning colder and colder, until my breath turns to fog with each exhalation. There is a peace and a calm about it, and I find myself holding my breath along with the world around me. We pause together for a few precious moments, poised at the edge of something dazzlingly magical. And, together, we savor the hush.


Finding My Way

Inspiration is a fickle thing. It has no beginning or end. It’s not finite; the more you use it, the more there is to use. And yet, when you want it the most, Inspiration tends to be elusive. I find my frustration showing its angry head at those times. The ideas are in there — somewhere in my mind. And so are the words. But I can’t seem to put them together in any sort of coherent or entertaining fashion. Inspiration dances in front of me. She remains just out of reach, playful and laughing while my inner child throws the mother of all temper tantrums.

I’ve had more than my fair share of creative temper over the past year and a half. I feel like I spend most of my time playing tag with my muses, and I’m not nearly as fast as I used to be in my younger years.

The plus side of all of this is that it’s led me to ponder the types of things that seem to make my Inspiration tick. As the old saying goes, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” I don’t think my Inspiration particularly likes honey, but there are a few things that seem to make her purr like a kitten hopped up on catnip.

Garden Path: Bishop's Garden, National Cathedral: Washington DC


Pathways that seem to wander around into nowhere. The isolation of them draws me in, like a special little secret the universe has saved back, just so that she could whisper it into my ear. I love the soft sounds of my shoes against worn brick or packed earth and the fresh smell of all that “green” growing around me. It’s lovely to meander around with no particular destination in mind — not lost, but also not found — and there’s a feeling of expectation in the air, as if anything is possible and waiting just around the next bend.

Roses, Bishop's Garden, National Cathedral: Washington DC


Much to my surprise, my Inspiration seems to be something of a “girly girl”. As such, she loves things that are bright and shiny. And, like all girls, she loves to get flowers. Roses are a favorite. They are delicate and a bit frilly, but there’s also something strong and brave about them. I love looking at all the layers and layers of petals. It’s a miracle and a mystery all wrapped into one. Plus, like all of us ladies, every rose has a few thorns hidden under her outer beauty.

Bees in the Bishop's Garden, National Cathedral: Washington, DC


I’m afraid of bees. And pretty much every other bug, too. If something has more than four legs, I tend to regard it with a healthy dose of skepticism and suspicion. But, much to my chagrin, my Inspiration is fascinated with bees. She loves to watch them — from a safe distance, of course — for hours. I think it’s because they really are busy and determined little creatures. I love how they remain focused on the task at hand, in spite of the fact that they’re rather teeny critters surrounded by a huge world. I find I often lack discipline and focus in my own creative efforts. I think my Inspiration can learn a lot from bees.

Snowy Farm, Warrenton VA


I grew up in the country, so there’s just something about quiet, out-of-the-way places. Large, open fields or rolling hills — it doesn’t matter. I feel like I can breathe and shake off all the niggling doubts from my daily life, and that’s when my Inspiration likes to come out to play.

Constitution Avenue, Washington DC


But, in true twisted fashion, my Inspiration also likes the city. All those people, all going about their business and rushing from point A to point B … and all points in between … focused in on their own desires, creates a manic sort of energy. There’s something a bit crazed about it all. And exciting, too. It’s like this great, big, pulsing organism has come to life around me and swallowed me up. It tends to get my Inspiration’s engines revving.

Store Window, Washington DC


Window displays and reflections. I’m not sure how this one works, but my Inspiration loves these things. I find myself photographing them all the time. Perhaps it’s the way each display tells a little story. Or the feeling of some kind of imaginary, fairy-tale world that’s just out of reach.

Store doorway: Harper's Ferry, VA


And doorways. Have you ever looked at a doorway, soft golden light spilling through it to pool on the ground just outside, and thought that you might be able to step through there and stay forever? I have.