Friday, February 24, 2012

Snow Angels

     It snowed last night. Only three inches but it is wet, heavy, heart-attack snow. My husband is on the other side of the globe sweating it out on the side of a volcano and forgot to leave directions for starting the new snowblower, so I pulled on boots and gloves and went out to clear the driveway with a shovel. I took a couple of swipes from top to bottom before my shoulder began to ache. It's a casualty from the days when I used to garden carelessly, thinking I could tackle just about anything with persistence. Just then, a gentleman came strolling down the street with a shovel over his shoulder and offered to clear the bottom of the driveway for me. It's the worst spot to shovel because of the overgenerous contributions from the snowplows. I accepted his offer eagerly and asked if I could pay him, thinking he might be a dad without work who was just trying to make a few extra dollars to feed his struggling family, but he refused. He was just being kind.
     When I was done clearing the front walk, I grabbed my camera and walked down the street to snap a few pictures. Wet snow clings to the shrubbery and trees like layers of thick white frosting. Eye candy. Then I thought it would be nice to take a picture of a snow angel. I threw myself backward into a smooth, blank patch of snow in the front yard and waved my arms and legs like I was doing jumping-jacks. I am not as limber as I once was, so I had some trouble getting back up without messing up my angel. A truck drove by, stopped and backed up. The gentleman inside rolled down his window and asked:
     "Are you alright?"
      "I'm fine," I replied, smiling, brushing snow from the seat of my pants. "I was just making a snow angel."
     The man laughed.
     "I'm probably too old to be doing that," I said sheepishly. Especially if it alarms the neighbors, I added to myself.
     "No, no," the man said charitably, "my wife does that too."
     I already like his wife, even though we've never met, and would like to invite her over for a cup of tea. "Well, thank you for stopping to ask, that was kind of you."
     Angels. Both of those gentlemen. Not the kind sent from heaven with messages from the Almighty, but heaven-sent nevertheless, for their acts of kindness have blessed me with unexpected joy today and reminded me that I abide in the palm of His hand.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dust Of Snow

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart 
A change of mood,
And saved some part
Of a day I rued.
           ~ Robert Frost ~

     Do you know how it is that on some days, whether the sky outside is sunny or sullen, it is gray inside your heart? But then something happens; something as small as finding a child's smudged handprint on the windowpane, or walking through a gust of golden leaves, or stepping out your front door into a sudden sunset...and then the gray goes away.

     That is why I like this poem.

     The bird you see is a raven rather than a crow, but he insisted on posing for this post. He likes poetry. I bought him from Amber Alexander and call him Quoth because he appears to be a very literary bird from the days of yore. He perches in my stairwell rather than above my chamber door and he never speaks–at least he hasn't yet...

Saturday, February 4, 2012


     For longer than I can remember I have loved stories. My mother says, as a child, I would sit on the floor in a corner of the room with a pile of magazines and amuse myself by making up stories about the pictures in them.

     What I first remember is sitting on the scratchy gray sofa of our front room waiting for my turn to be shown how to tie my scuff-toed, hand-me-down shoes. I sat quietly with a picture book in my hands. The pictures were of elephants in sailor suits and traveling clothes, walking on two legs and carrying umbrellas and suitcases. For all their charm, it wasn't the pictures that had captured my attention; it was the smooth, black scribbles looping and swirling in long, curving lines at the bottom of the page that mesmerized me. Even then, I knew those scribbles held the magic of stories locked inside them like a treasure waiting to be opened. I thought that if I only looked long enough and hard enough I could break the spell that kept the stories from me.

     Then I learned to read. I slogged through stories of Dick and Jane that were tedious and uninteresting, but were necessary if I was ever to read the really good ones about Jane Moffat who was also a middle child and sometimes looked at life from upside-down, and Ellen Tebbits who was jealous, as I was, of her best friend's beautiful dresses with the crisply tied bows, and of the funny little girl named Pippi Longstocking who had red hair like mine, and an imagination like mine, and a kind of courage and independence that existed for me only in books.

     My own family were not great readers, so I was dubbed "Bookworm"; exactly so for the only thing I enjoyed as much as reading stories was writing them or pretending to be walking around inside of them. I was shy with people and sometimes lonely in a house filled with children, but I found companionship in books. Reading and writing remain my chief pleasures, but as I grew older I discovered stories in other places as well.

     While in college, I went to see my first ballet–Swan Lake. I remember sitting in the close dark of the theater in a plush red seat up near the rooftop. I remember the sudden hush as the music began, weaving its own kind of magic. The curtain rose, and the dancers began to loop and swirl across the stage like writing on a page. Soon, I was straining to hear the voice of another kind of story.

     Many years have passed, and I have continued to discover stories in unexpected places. Sometimes they come in the familiar shape of a book, or play, or picture show, while at other times I find them in museums and art galleries, in the conversations of friends and family, or even in the scratching and scribbling of my own pen. I have only been given my one, small life, but I have lived countless others through stories.