They’re about a month late, but we finally spotted prairie crocuses yesterday. This week has also featured a sprinkling of fresh green leaves, and a large number of runaway grass fires. It’s a very dry spring.
They say it was the first day of spring, but it could have been January, or February. The snowbank along the lane was still the height of my shoulder. The path to the house was bordered by a two-foot-tall cut in the drift that swept in over it during the last storm. Personally, I’m waiting for Narnia’s Snow Queen to go sledding by, because that would explain a lot.
It seems that time is frozen. It ceased to pass by, somewhere in the depths of winter, and here we will stay forever.
I think wild thoughts as the hours tick by, second after second. I think of moving away. I think of uprooting my entire life in drastic and impossible measures. If endings signify death, then I’ve become an obsessive fiend, whiling away the days by plotting the murder of winter. I would drop her through a wormhole and into an alternate universe, one where my northern realm is someplace so faraway as to be imaginary. I would vapourize her white, unmoving swells and turn them into an ocean of warm blue-green living water. She is a sea, and she drowns me.
Weeks later, still the snow remains. If the White Witch has been by, it’s to cringe at the dripping of the eaves and to conjure yet another storm. Yesterday, it blew down from the north, cold and sleety. Today, on the icy roads, my oldest ditched the car. It’s not a big deal — it happens in winter, and there’s nothing to hit out here in the middle of nowhere. The only targets are more snowbanks.
Winter writes a memoir. Time is frozen, and if we travel it, we do so by memory of things that have ceased to exist. Things like the colour green, things like leaves. I thought, the other day, that I saw green tips on the stark grey branches as we drove down towards town. It was a mirage brought on by a dehydrated brain that has gone too long without the natural spectrum.
Endings signify death, but sometimes also life. And the death of a foul thing can be the resurrection of the good. I cling to that thought, and complete another pass of the cycle of words begun by my friend:
Memoirists don’t like endings because endings signify death. And yet their duty is to embrace them, because the death of the lesser means the life of the greater. The memoirist’s duty is to impart the presence of a life which lasts beyond the final page.
Even as we freeze the moments, we are still traversing them. That’s winter’s doom, and my hope. Whether we turn the pages backward or forward, or pin them open in one place, at some point the warmth of other days must shine through and melt these chosen portraits — ice sculptures of the mind — to running water.
Things like the colour green — they do exist. I do believe in fairies, or rather, in resurrection. And I hope my best skill is time travel, for the express purpose of never concluding the season to come: The renaissance.
New this week: A previously published short story of mine, The Significance of Snowflakes, is now available for free in your choice of e-reader formats. If you’d like to read it, click here and scroll down to the download links.
I came home the other night to a fleeting drift of clouds and a half-moon rising through them. This time of year, all is silent. No birds sing in the cold. My world is a wasteland, having drawn its shutters and burnt out its hearth.
The wind shudders and heaves like the spasm of drowning lungs, but there is no water. Nothing resembling life. This realm is no longer Earth, no longer even Mars. It has achieved Io’s frigid orbit. If we step outside the fragile hulls built to take us through this trackless void, we risk the loss of skin, fingers, toes, a gradual blackening as the abyss gapes hungrily to meet us and make us its embodiment.
Yet it is the time of the Hunter and the moon. The dark is slow to lift her veil, though she comes later and later, a little less adamant each day. Six o’clock, and within our shell of refuge, golden warmth glows. It’s Eliot’s prelude hour of poetry and drabbery; the time when light pricks the darkness as if to say that nothing, even the wasteland, is as absolute as life after death.
In the city of my childhood, great elms keep watch over blocks upon blocks of 100-year-old Victorian houses. Those houses would qualify as mansions, if not for the core neighbourhoods they inhabit.
The narrow, crooked streets of the Market area are defined by four- and five-story buildings with massive limestone pillars and elaborate cornices in red and tan brick. The historic painted banners on their sides proclaim the businesses which built them early in the last century.
I stand in an antique house on a street where spray-painted tags ride the back walls of garages with impunity. The tall windows, wide sills, the creak of a true antique oak floor instead of some modern imitation. This is the city as I knew it long ago. It is as it was in my grandparents’ time: a melting-pot of the world, falling down and yet still standing.
We are a motley fellowship around our hostess’s table. We have come here from the Congo, from Chicago, from English and aboriginal Canada, from the Russian Mennonite migrations, from Uzbekistan. Continue reading
It’s wonderland here right now, or as some would say, Narnia. There’s neither the green of spruce nor the stark black of the leafless trees. All nature wears a white robe, lately.
For the most part, with physical product, anyway, we like Amazon at this house. It’s really handy for people who live in the middle of nowhere, and also for people who live in the middle of nowhere and hate driving an hour for the non-privilege of spending half a day in shopping mall crowds.
But I’m also aware that digital products are being treated as licensed, rather than purchased, by major e-tailers. I’ve never bought e-books, though I’ll get them for free when they’re on promotion. Tuesday was one of those days, but it was also the day when I crossed paths with the rollout of digital products specifically for Amazon’s Canadian region.
Before I could access the e-book, I got this:
Just to be clear, it says this: Continue reading