Procrastinating on Snow Days

BlogBlankWe had a friend, Nel, who maintained February always had at least nine sunny days.  She wasn’t a meteorologist but relied on her memory to substantiate the claim. When we started paying attention, it seemed as if she was right. February might be too soon to plant or mow, but nice days often had us outside, cleaning winter debris from garden beds and planning spring projects, like power washing decks and cleaning gutters.

Not this year. This February tossed winter fury at us by way of sub-zero temperatures, bitter windchills and — this past weekend — more snow. For easterners this wouldn’t be unusual, but we BC west coasters are offended! Enough is enough!

Snowy Squirrel

It was still snowing when I went to bed last night, but I think… I hope… this week’s rising temperatures will soon be melting our six inches of heavy snow into puddles and mud. It’s not that I like mud, of course, but it’s an inevitable forerunner of springtime, and now that the Olympics are over, I have my sight set on spring.

There are plenty of indoor projects that could use my attention, but if I can’t do what I want to do, then I might not choose to do anything. Yes, I’m reading books and organizing a manuscript, and for a writer those are valid, even necessary, occupations. But this ornery weather is putting a pucker in my seasonal intentions. It’s allowing me to procrastinate when I shouldn’t. I think I need to start a list.

I’m being flippant. If I procrastinate, the worst thing that might happen is a few tasks will be put off for another time. Is that a bad thing? Probably not, although it sets a bad precedent. Then again, I’m retired and schedules are a thing of the past, so who’s going to care? I do have a routine of sorts — things I do each morning — but beyond that the day is my own.

Hmm… not entirely true. If I were in charge of my day’s activities, I’d be gardening in the snow today, and that’s not going to happen. Ah, well… patience! The snow will eventually melt. I’ve never met a summer that was chilling under six inches of snow.

Do you procrastinate? Does it matter?

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A Winter Day

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Bits and blobs of leftover snow clung to branches. There hadn’t been much… less than an inch… but the temperature hovered near zero (celsius) most of the week so it was slow to melt.

Then, just as the last trace disappeared from barren branches, the sky sprinkled fine snow and dusted everything fresh white again.

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The winter’s first brief visit from a Spotted Towhee completed my day. A flick of his tail and he was gone again, but the fleeting gift left me smiling.

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Every good and perfect gift is from above
and comes down from the Father who made the heavenly lights,
in whom there is no inconsistency or shifting shadow.

James 1:17

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“… ridged inch deep with pearl”

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The snow had begun in the gloaming,

And busily all the night

Had been heaping field and highway

With a silence deep and white.

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Every pine and fir and hemlock

Wore ermine too dear for an earl,

And the poorest twig on the elm-tree

Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

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[James Russell Lowell — The First Snow-Fall]

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(Click photos to enlarge)

“Every intricacy of twig…”

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There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very
hollows in snow.  It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every
blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.

[William Sharp]

The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof;
the world, and all that dwells therein.
[Psalm 24:1]
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A Winter Wander, and Contest Winners

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Footsteps crunch a path through powdery snow and wisps of breath trail on frigid air. An abandoned bench mourns a friendlier season… a time when garden beds didn’t snooze beneath a layer of crystalline insulation, but beckoned with fragrance and colour. Now the bench serves only as a temporary resting spot for chickadees and juncoes en route to the birdfeeder for their hourly dose of calories. My well padded bottom rejects the deceptive white cushion, so I bypass it and return to the house where I reclaim my mug of tea, and settle into a more welcoming seat.

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Wednesday I complained about the excessive snow we’ve had, and offered a $10 Starbucks gift card for the most creative comparison of plots and weather situations. Not everyone caught my suggestion of a literary-weather analogy, but there were some wonderfully descriptive ones. I jumped the gun and announced a winner Wednesday evening (I’ve been a bit brain dead this week), but there were more entries today that couldn’t be ignored, so I’ve chosen a second winner.

WEDNESDAY’S WINNER – Ramblingsfromtheleft (Blog: Florence Fois in the City)

“Standing by the sea wall, the Brooklyn Narrows is shrouded in a dense fog, the lights of the bridge struggle to break free. It moves like a gathering of white gray clouds above the water wake and like the moments just before we wake, it holds the world suspended, the mystery of a new day. Soon, soft winds sweep across  the horizon, and we see.”

THURSDAY’S WINNER – Sandra Heska King (Blog: Sandra Heska King)

“Often we get weather reports that cause anticipation and excitement–even apprehension. The kids get ready for a snow day. We check the snowblower. We get ready for the “big one.” But nothing happens. And we are disappointed. Like we might be when we get our hopes up for a good read.

Today the forecast was for flurries. But we had more than that, wind, a drift in front of the garage, and icy roads. Totally unexpected. I like surprises in my books, too.”

Congratulations, Florence and Sandra! $10 gift cards from Starbucks will soon be winging their way to both of you. I hope you’ll consider steamy mugs of yummy goodness a suitable reward for your effort.

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The Plot… er, the Snow, Thickens (There’s a Giveaway, too!)

Chilly west coasters are coping with the intrusion of an Arctic ridge of high pressure. It’s creating strong outflow winds and bringing frigid temperatures from the Interior of the province into our normally balmy south coast. As the front pushes towards the coast it’s meeting warmer Pacific onshore currents, producing… what else? More snow.

Just what I always wanted! I already have as much as I need, thank you very much. It has the perennials nicely insulated, shrubbery beginning to bow under the weight, and the early Snowdrops buried in icy graves. Now I’m starting to worry about what’s coming next.

Funny… that’s what it’s like when I’m reading a mystery story. The foreshadowing is there, the clues start piling up, and while I wait for the damage to hit, I’m gnashing my teeth that I didn’t pay more attention earlier in the season… um, in the story.

By the look of the forecast, I might as well throw another log on the fire and make myself some hot chocolate. This story has to play itself out and I want to stick around to see if the ending fulfills the earlier promise. The plot is thickening as we speak!

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Is it my imagination, or are there other plot similarities to be found in weather situations? I’m offering a $10 Starbucks gift card for the most creative comparison. Leave yours in a comment under today’s post before tomorrow (Thursday), 6:00 p.m. Pacific time, and I’ll reward the most innovative writer with the means to wrap cold hands around a hot mug. 🙂

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Frozen Light

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“I am the light of the world.”

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[John 8:12]

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How exquisite your love, O God! …

You’re a fountain of cascading light,

and you open our eyes to light.

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[Psalm 36:7,9 – The Message]

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Blanshard Peak – 5,085 ft – part of the Golden Ears mountains of the Garibaldi Range
[Photo taken November 19, 2011 from Dewdney Trunk Road in Maple Ridge, BC]
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Windows on Winter

Windows on winter

Sun-blessed discoveries

On a chilly morn

Wandering ‘coon tracks

Across my back deck

Pressed in powdered snow

Glimpses of beauty

Branches of white lace

Tree spears stretching tall


Evergreens shiver

Showering snow flakes

To capture lost warmth



Fresh winter snowfall

Fluffy white crystals

Dusting winter’s day

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What’s your writing day like?

Can you describe it in five syllable phrases?

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Whispers of Winter

 

Soft and silent snow

Aftermath of windswept flakes

Whispers of winter

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Lonely autumn leaves

Chilled by a crystal blanket

Drop dying colours

Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.

[1 Chronicles 29:12-14]

 

 

Pre-Winter Blasts and Blusters

 

We west coasters may be teased as wimps, but we’re accustomed to balmy rainforest-type conditions here. When temperatures take their first winter plunge we shiver and complain. This weekend blustery winds blew our first short lived snowfall into skiffs and drifts, and layered nearby mountains in a wardrobe of white. Most of the snow in town is gone now but our thermometer is on the way down to -7oC tonight (about 18oF).

Winter conditions play a big part in a recently revised manuscript where my protagonist escapes dangers in his city life to become the winter caretaker at a remote northern fishing lodge.  As I hunt for words to adequately describe the beauty of this first blast of winter it makes me wonder how effectively I described the fictitious northern winter in my story.

Does weather or climate play a significant role in your work-in-progress? Do you use detailed description or tuck in bits of relevant references to convey its effect on the story and characters?