Winter this year seems to be arriving all at once. This Groundhog Day of snow on snow on snow gave me time to dig into my writer’s notebook and savor some snippets from Take Joy, Jane Yolen’s insightful and incisive book on the craft of writing.
Jane Yolen, a writer whose work I have loved ever since first reading Owl Moon, writes a poem each and every day as part of her routine as a writer. If you connect with her via email, she will send them to you. My first one arrived yesterday. It was amazing: artful, smart, creative, magical. A clarion call to inspire the writer’s muse, couched in a gathering of fairies. It contained delicious words like “freshet”, and this line, “Not a BANG, but a slow greening.” (c) Jane Yolen. You could take this line literally, that is how spring arrives in Vermont. But I also interpreted it to refer to the creative process as well.
Her email noted she welcomed comments. So amongst a few other small comments I sent this:
This time of year I miss western Oregon where green is a year round garment, and as we speak the hellebores are waking.
She wrote back.
“But if it is green all year, how do you wake from the winter sleep into productivity?”
I have to say, at this point I was nearly falling out of my chair to think I had just had an email conversation with “THE Jane Yolen.” After I recovered from my starstruck delirium, I thought about her words. I thought about my One Little Word: Presence. I thought about a conversation I had just had with my husband Herb. He had just read aloud to me a thoughtful piece from Brain Pickings Weekly this issue being a collage of excerpts from Annie Lamott and poets Strand and Oliver (among others) on the subject of presence and awareness. We discussed on how “our” incessant focus on the future robs of us of living in the present.
Funny, how the same message can wash over you in waves-even to the point of knocking you off your feet. I realized, longing for the spring awakenings in Oregon, in a way prevented me from being fully present in the gift of Vermont winter. How often have I lived my life this way, blind to what is going on right in front of me because I am busy thinking about a future..that may never materialize in the way I hope or imagine.
Today in my inbox was another poem from Jane with a winter theme. Inspired, I gleaned from my notebook some snippets I have been collecting and here is my own poem: a celebration of winter in Vermont
Winter Dreams By Julie Burchstead
Winter panes spill light like butter, golden pools on the snow
Inviting travelers home again with their warming glow.
Winter chimneys puff out smoke, like twisted cotton threads.
Weaving gossamer tapestry in the sky over our heads.
Winter people seek good books, steaming mugs and cozy lairs,
They pull on fuzzy sweaters, curl into comfy chairs.
Winter days sleep late, are stingy with their light.
They retire early, give way too soon to night.
Winter dogs are lazy, they snore and grow fat.
They twitch and dream of chasing squirrels, a ball, perhaps a cat.
Winter dreams stretch long-into dark that’s rich and deep,
Wrapped up in PJs, downy quilts, flannel sheets, soothing sleep.
Winter villages settle in and wrap themselves up tight,
In soft white afghans knit from snowflakes, then they say Good Night.
If you are a writer, and have not read Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft, (Yolen, 2006) I highly recommend heading to your local independent bookstore and adding it to your personal library as soon as you can. You will be better for it.
Two of my favorite independent bookstores (I have personally wandered the aisles of both)
Thanks to TwoWritingTeachers Blog for the opportunity to participate in Tuesday Slice of Life