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Archive for February, 2011

 My collection of fantasy stories, illustrations, and a few poems, The Greener Forest, is complete. Editor Katie has suggested changes to the fiction (most of which I made) and scanned the manuscript for grammatical no-no’s. This week’s late-night rush to finish an adequate selection of illustrations for layout & design is done. Cold Moon Press must take over the book now. And exhausted, but happy, Sandy the Black-mouthed Cur and I both have bags under our eyes.

Today I woke to a stack of letters to answer piled on my desk and 2 illustrations to complete for a client. I needed to begin work on the cover art for a speculative fiction anthology. This afternoon’s slightly warmer temperatures have stirred up the non-indigenous stinkbug population. At least a dozen of the six-legged invaders have managed to gain access to the house, so I’ve been dutifully grabbing the bugs and flushing them away. Dust and cobwebs are gathering in the corners of several rooms, and there’s a pressing deadline to complete a piece of fiction which I haven’t even started. Yikes!

 But there’s also a recipe I’ve been meaning to try, a novel half-read, and a sewing project calling my name. There’s a movie I’ve been meaning to watch with my husband, and a dog who’d love a walk. I owe several friends phone calls, and my mom wants to read me a letter from long ago she found amongst some of my dad’s papers. The wild birds need to be fed, and Sandy wants to romp in the slowly disappearing snow.

 How should I choose to spend my Saturday? It’s a balancing act. This week, writing & artwork claimed most of my time — so this weekend, I’m going to focus on family, friends, wild birds, and my dog. Will my time-off from working on submissions and promoting The Greener Forest hurt my career? I’m not sure, but I know my soul needs to laugh at a dog eating snow and watch a cheesy romantic comedy with Ernie.

Though relaxing or not, I must still eliminate stinkbugs or they’re sure to take over the house!

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As another ice storm approaches Wood’s Edge, I haul seed out by the bucketful to the wild birds perched on the branches of the trees and shrubs at the forest’s edge. Even with coat, hat, boots, and gloves, I shiver. I glance up at the heavy gray sky before filling the feeders. The chickadees, juncoes, wrens, cardinals, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, nuthatches, and tufted titmice (titmouses?) bravely swoop down and clothespin themselves to the perches of nearby feeders as I fumble with the first suet basket. Crows caw from the fence rail, several woodpeckers hop down the tree trunks, and a solitary hawk watches the goings-on with much interest.

 Meanwhile, Sandy the Black-mouthed Cur is bounding through the drifts, grabbing mouthfuls of snow, and rolling with abandon in the loose, fluffy snow in the corner of the yard. Joyful is the only word to describe her behavior. She looks at me, eyes bright, muzzle whitened by snow, tail wagging so hard the rear half of her body has joined its back & forth motion, and woofs. A playful woof that seems to say: The world is wonderful and isn’t it great to be alive!

Last winter seemed to be a long string of snowstorms. This winter appears to be much the same. I get lots of writing and drawing done it’s true, but I miss morning walks. Ice is not something I choose to tread upon when trying to manage an enthusiastic 60-pound dog. And tonight we expect more ice. 

But even as I cringe at the thought of another month of bad weather (and I suspect we shall get another month’s worth of frozen precipitation whether or not that famous Pennsylvania groundhog sees his shadow) — I think of crocuses and the sound of spring peepers. And since Sandy has only been with me since last June, I secretly wonder what she’ll think of frogs!

 And so, I share a quote from Anne Bradstreet: “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” Indeed!  And if we had no winter, Sandy the Black-mouthed Cur would surely miss the snow.

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