Sunday, February 22, 2015

12 ways of looking at snow

This Sunday's writing prompt was 12 ways of looking at snow.

an arbitrator between autumn and spring
keeping storm scores and stats on plummeting temperatures

a cat burglar, sneaking in on a passing cold front
stealing color, hiding the tricycle and the dog’s dish,
disguising the starkness of trees with fluff, covering its tracks
as it leaves

a bully, sweeping in on a fierce wind,
a white fury casting cold spells,
spinning and dancing like a colorless gypsy
tapping its tambourine fingers against the window panes

A blanket of silence covering sky and earth,
flung out and floating down silently
in heaps and wrinkles

an ice challenge, wicked, cold, and inhospitable
hard as rock, unyielding even to the distant sun

a nightmare like a thief in the night
stealing the familiar, leaving an expanse of
nothingness where light was

a gossamer dream, a fairy tale, a story of
eternal cold dressed in ermine, of diamond faceted jewels
that glitter under a pale moon

a blustery uncle, all noise and fake promises
who rushes in, pulls out his watch, and says, “I must hurry,”
as he dashes off

a lingering guest, one who arrives unexpectedly, expects a
room and food, languishes on the sofa with a hand to her head,
her scarf trailing across the roads and fields and tangling
in the branches of the trees

an artist with a monochromatic palette, painting with broad strokes.

an eraser, an impenetrable veil, a swirl of opaque white, a myriad of genies
escaped and coalesced, their arms and bodies so entwined that no light
pierces their pallid shadows

a silence so profound one can hear only his own heartbeat counting the seconds,
his own blood swishing to the same tempo of snowflakes falling on his sleeve


In Terms of Snow

Tlatim falls like flour from a sifter,
tlamo slaps at the windows like white wings

two mysteries enfolded in the word snow,

the very idea of which, penstla,
will become tomorrow’s deep drifts.
Tlun sparkles in the moonlight,

sotla makes prisms in the morning light,
while here in the lower 48,
snow merely drifts and packs,

powders the ski slopes,
blows itself into sudden squalls,
and turns to slush in the sun.

Eskimo snow terms from

Sunday, February 15, 2015


I dreamed I was the wind—
shrill, harsh, shrieking around the corner of the house
scooping snow and flinging it
amongst the moaning trees,

and as in the way of dreams,
I dreamt I was the snow,
a flurry of helpless flakes
swirling, flying madly in three directions at once—
up, down, sideways, veiling the landscape in torn lace.

In the midst of snow and wind
I was a sparrow clinging to a bending forsythia branch,
feathers fluffed against the cold,
guarding my small, valiant heart
against February’s bared teeth.

And I became what hides behind the wind,
behind the snow, beyond the cold,
that which remains nameless in its vastness
its otherness, its unknowable self
except in dreams. That which writes the world
in symbols we struggle to interpret.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Winter Thoughts

It's snowing Again. Thank goodness. There's about a foot on the ground and an additional 6-8 inches is expected here in my cottage corner by evening. My garden will be happy come springtime. Snow is a great insulator and a good fertilizer. It's also fun to play in.

The little bird I thought was an albino turns out to be leucistic instead. When it alights on the feeder it is barely discernible against the white sky.(

Winter strips the landscape down to its bare bones...

then decorates it in shades of black and white. Still, if you look for them, you can find bits of color.



and sunsets paint their own pictures against the often dreary backdrop of cold and snow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


January 27, 2015
(Note: I don't consider myself a weather(wo)man basher. I know that forecasting is an inexact science. This link ( offers a good explanation of the difficulty in making precise predictions. This sentence stands out howeverMeteorologists and weather outlets need to do a better job communicating all possibilities and not just the worst case scenario. My main complaint here is that the hype fosters the "oh my God!" aspects of our behavior.)

It's not the Blizzard of the Century here in southwestern Massachusetts but snow is falling in a curtain as I type, casting a gauzy veil between my cottage and the house next door. The trees look as though they've been penciled in against the horizon. Only the wee birds at the feeder just outside the window - the gray and white juncoes, the finches with their purple breasts or cranberry head caps or mustard yellow feathers, the black and white chickadees, the brilliant ruby red cardinal, the needle-beaked nuthatch - are clearly defined. A much stronger band of the storm batters the east coast. Already it's dumped snow in some towns that is measured in feet rather than mere inches and the entire island of Nantucket went off grid about 8 a.m. 

Because of predicted snowfall amounts and wind velocity, the entire state of Massachusetts was put under a state of emergency while the storm was still hours away. As it turned out, the storm made a "wobble," and the western third of the state was spared. But not before store shelves were emptied, schools and businesses were closed, and a statewide travel ban was imposed.

Snowstorms here in New England are a common occurrence. When I was growing up, the weatherman on the one TV station we got would warn us of impending snow and remind us to bundle up. Now terms like massive, historic, and unparalleled are bandied about. There are few maybes in the forecast and frightening scenarios accompany many weather reports. What used to be considered common sense precautions are reiterated a thousand times over. I can't recall a snowstorm where my parents panicked and fled to the supermarket to stock up. We often lost power in bad storms, winter and summer, so our flashlights always had charged batteries, we had a good supply of candles and matches, we were never short of bread or milk or toilet paper. If the heat went off we had a fireplace with a ready supply of wood and plenty of extra blankets. We wore sweaters and two pairs of socks if we were cold. We had a gas stove that we had to light with a match so we were always able to make a hot meal. If we knew a storm was coming, my mother would fill the canning pot with water for washing and several glass milk bottles for drinking. 

For a number of years in the 70s and 80s, I homesteaded in Northern Vermont with my now ex-husband and our four young children. For the first couple of years we had no electricity, running water or indoor plumbing. Winters in northern VT are predictably cold and snowy. With no radio or TV, we relied on our windows, our bones (and sometimes our neighbors), to let us know what the weather was doing. Though there were a number of snowstorms that left over two feet of snow at once and the temperature could plunge to -40, we weren't paralyzed as people seem to be now. School was seldom called off. If the bus driver couldn't navigate the roads, he called the superintendent who called the firehouse and 3 blasts of the siren let us know school was cancelled for the day. Now schools are closed before a single flake falls.

I never thought I'd feel old fashioned but I do. Perhaps it's common at this age to look back at what one's life was like 50, 30, even 10 years ago and make comparisons. And the weather will always remain relatively unpredictable. What I object to is the rhetoric. That, and the assumption that people don't know how to take care of themselves. All the drama of the weathercasters' language makes me squirm. Something isn't historic until it takes place. Why don't they just warn us that heavy snow is possible, remind us to look out the window before we head out the door, tell us to take common sense precautions and always be ready for an emergency?