Who Dares Say?

Friday, 1/22/16 11 AM

Friday, 1/22/16 11 am

I used to live in a tiny town in Northern Vermont, known for it’s record snowfalls. My kids went to school even if the temperatures were near or below zero. In July my kids took swimming lessons at nearby Joe’s Pond, and often came home shivering, with blue lips. We put storm windows up in September and made sure cords of wood were split and stacked inside the barn attached to our house, where we could retrieve it easily when the wood stove was burning low. All of the produce from the garden was in and preserved by the end of August. We made and sold our own apple cider from the falls from our antique apple trees in September and October. I made sure the hay loft was filled with bales of hay to feed my sheep and angora goats during the cold months, way before summer was over.

1/23/16 around 3 pm. Snow still coming down,

1/23/16 around 3 pm. Snow still coming down.


I lived there for about twenty years. Toward the end of that time, dealing with the dark, cold months was getting quite old. I suffered from what I called the Winter Blues, officially known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which usually took hold in December and lasted well into March or April, depending on how the winter weather was going.

This weekend it snowed 18” here in Charlottesville. It was dark and cold. I got sick with a very bad cold and didn’t appreciate the snow, even though it’s absolutely beautiful. It reminded me of Vermont and why I moved here to Virginia.

This winter there has been very little snowfall in Vermont.  The ski areas are going bust.

It stopped snowing here around 7 pm on Saturday.  On Sunday the sun came out, it warmed up to near 50 F and the snow started melting. Monday more melting and sun.  Today I’m going to the grocery store.  My cold lingers and it’s going to rain tomorrow.

Who dares say that global climate change is a myth?

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The Silence Of Snow

DSC01864I just returned from a writing retreat with four wonderful women. It was a week of hard writing, sharing, nurturing, and laughter. I’ll write more about it next week. But for now, with a good portion of our country sleeping beneath a heavy blanket of snow, I leave you with the following poem.

The Silence of Snow

I shift beneath blankets
warm from nightly wandering
the only sound my thoughts
percolating through misty dreams
unspoken words muffled by snow
pillowed on pines  plump sculptures
thick as feather beds conceal
the garden that yesterday lay
barren and scarred

No birds call  leaden geese in silhouette
glide the river thickening with winter chill
I slip back into dreams  a mummy wrapped
in sheets of white  the slow dance
of cranes in a sea of frozen fog
drift in and out numbing my bones
awake once more I wonder if death
is as still and pure as
the silent snow


What questions do snow and silence raise for you?

Kickin’ Back

Snow day, January 2012.

Snow day, January 2012.

Excuse me while I take some time off from my blog.  Even though it hasn’t snowed much here this winter, this past January has been the coldest on record in twenty years.  I like to lay low in the winter, taking my time with everything … napping, cooking and enjoying soups, stews and braises.  There hasn’t been time for any of that this past month with the renovations we’ve undergone, so I’m hearby declaring the next week my hibernation week.  It can snow or do whatever it wants.  I’m staying put. I’ll cook a pot roast, and put away all the kitchen things that have been packed away in boxes over the past month. I can’t wait to see all my cookbooks lined up on the shelves that we had especially built just for them.  I’m also rearranging furniture all over the house and setting myself up for the newness of spring’s arrival next month.

I’ll be back next week with something useful or knowledgable to tell you about … or not.  In the meantime go sledding, bake cookies, read a good book, or clean out a closet. Let’s simply the enjoy the next week as it is … rain, sleet, snow, or sun.  It’s good for our health to just slow down and breathe deeply.

On Getting Rid Of Writer’s Block

DSCF0860I’ve been going through a few weeks of being unable to write. I spent the first week after my trip recovering from a nasty cold. The second week  I finished up laundry and caught up on missed appointments.  I don’t know what took up the third week but it wasn’t writing and that is what I wanted to get back into. During the fifth week, disgusted and scared that I might be suffering from a blockage, I decided to simply sit down at my computer and see what might come forth.  I had no problem writing blog posts. But working on my book was another story.

It probably had a lot to do with the fact that I had finished Part II of my book while I was sick in England. I couldn’t go out much and needed something to keep my mind occupied rather than allow myself to turn bitchy and unpleasant to be around.  But back at home and coaxing those first words out for Part III seemed well nigh impossible. I needed to change my style from a time line narrative to something more free and open, where I  allow myself to become the person I am now …  not the person I was back during the days before I took control of my life and began the process of healing from the trauma I’d been through.

But it was hard for me to change costumes.  Since I started this project, I’d drag out the old screwed-up me every day, dressed in her victimhood and write in her voice. I’ve been doing that for almost a year now and had gotten pretty good at.  Through the writing process the pain of that time has now been dealt with and I no longer feel the hurt, the dread or the fear I made myself return to in order to begin my travels back in time. Who says writing isn’t healing?

In my first attempts to move forward in time, my natural instinct was to return to that old time driven story which I wanted to be done with. I wanted Part III to be more open, philosophical, and forgiving of those who had done me wrong. Whenever I began to write about my process of healing I was drawn into the conflict of who to be … Joan, past or present.  The result?  Nothing! So I gave myself some time to relax and clean out a few closets, which seemed to be a natural remedy for the undertaking of making the shift I wanted. I read through journals of my healing time and otherwise occupied my time with seeing friends and having some fun.

Knowing that I was going to see my writing coach, Kevin, this week, I sat down on the weekend in front of the screen to see what would happen.  I typed a few beginning words.  I didn’t like them. I deleted them, took a deep breath, and started again.  It took a while but before too long I was on my way to writing the transition chapter into Part III.  Monday night having finished that chapter, I started another.  Same thing.  I couldn’t stand the opening words I chose, deleted them and tried again. Words started to pour out in bucket loads.   The next morning I sat down again to continue work on that chapter and wrote another five hundred words before my appointment with Kevin. I didn’t want to stop. All I want to do now is keep going. I have no difficulty getting back to where I was after taking breaks and I seem to have entered the third phase of my book without further difficulty.

As in the past when I’ve had difficulty writing, I’ve taken some time off and allowed the project to simmer on a back burner.  Sure, I pissed and moaned about my lack of words, but eventually when I stopped fighting it, I was able to relax and try again.  It has always worked.

How do you end periods of being unable to write?  I’d love to hear about your ways of getting back to work.

What Is The Life I Should Live?

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

“All through our gliding journey, on this day as on so many others, a little song runs through my mind. I say song because it passes musically, but it is really just words, a thought that is neither strange nor complex. In fact, how strange it would be not to think it — not to have such music inside one’s head and body, on such an afternoon. What does it mean, say the words, that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift I should bring to the world? What is the life I should live?”  –

Mary Oliver (from “Flow,” Long Life)