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Posts Tagged ‘Winter Survival’

The days are stretching out at both ends.  Every year about now, I go into a state of abject euphoria over the growing daylight and anticipation of our wet and wonderful, cold, fragrant Wisconsin spring.  Here in Southern Wisconsin, one can get euphoric by mid-February, as the redwing blackbirds will probably be back by early March.  In the past we’ve seen and heard them about 40 miles southeast, in the town of Whitewater, by the last week of February.  If we get any sort of a thaw in the next couple weeks, we’ll be Whitewater-bound for dinner at a favorite steak house there–and our first “hello” to the returning redwings.

Each year about now I get a power surge to change things around in our home, especially in my writing and painting studio which–since we moved “south”–is located at one end of our sunny bedroom.  Yesterday I accomplished a great re-do of the studio, so everything is lovelier now and more convenient.

The butt-ugly laptop, scanner and printer are tucked into an obscure corner and covered by gorgeous handwoven runners, when not in use.  Most prominent now are my easel, brushes, and paintings in process.  The accoutrements of art are beautiful, while writing  paraphernalia tends to be an eyesore in this age of technology.  Quill pens, inkwells, and parchment were indeed beautiful to behold–but not so efficient as my butt-ugly computer and attachments.  Hence the disguise, in woven works of art.

The above desk is one of two in my studio, along with two work tables.  A small TV hunkers under another woven runner.  The TV is not hooked up for reception, Heaven forbid!  It’s simply here for viewing my art tutorial DVDs, JEEVES AND WOOSTER, and other beloved British productions.

A power surge!  In a few weeks, that great silent power will surge underfoot, and we’ll have a revolution of GREEN!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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Yesterday my true love, Joe, and I had a “normal day”–if any day can ever be called that.  Our daughter is healing amazingly well from cardiac arrest, with her faculties intact.  She is scheduled to go home on Thursday, just 2 weeks after the crisis.

Joe and I celebrated by taking time out just for fun.  We ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant, enjoying the colorful decor and friendly service in the place along with our meaty/cheesy enchiladas. 

Then we proceded to an activity which delights both of us in different ways–a trip to an antique mall.  Joe and Baby Dylan  (our corgi) relaxed in the warm van, dozing and listening to Wisconsin Public Radio while I spent a portion of infinity browsing in the store.  Since WPR sets my teeth on edge and Joe gets weary in antique stores, this arrangement suits us both.

I find it tremendously theraputic, to wander amongst old things:  vintage clothing, 40s kitchen kitsch, Victorian glassware and china, primitive pots and enamelled kettles, ornate sterling silver and silverplate, faded pictures and tattered books, and old furniture–either aged and polished to perfection, or scarred and chipped.  (I like “scarred and chipped” most of all!)

The antique mall yielded 2 treasures:  a vintage sheep picture in a gorgeous old shabby chic frame, and a Royal Albert cup and saucer decorated with blossoms and REDWING BLACKBIRDS! 

Although I love English tea pots, cups, and saucers, I have a strange confession to make.  I am not inordinately fond of hot tea!  (Iced tea, whoopee and hooray!)  I collect a plethora of tea paraphernalia just for the aesthetics, while consuming huge quantities of full strength, leaded COFFEE every day.  

This morning I’m sipping rather than chug-a-lugging my coffee, from the Prince Albert redwing cup placed on its dainty saucer.  With redwing blackbirds at hand, can spring be far behind?

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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Winter is beautiful.  Winter is invigorating.  Winter is fun.  Given these attributes, we can also add:  winter is cold, winter can be treacherous on the roads, winter paths are slippery, and winter is long.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that it’s a social “No-No” to talk about spring in the winter.  If I so much as mentions lilacs or soft south winds, someone will say, “I LOVE winter.  Winter is so beautiful.” 

The inference is:  “What in the world is wrong with you, to talk about lilacs in the gorgeous winter?”  Or:  “Are you ever a wimp!” 

Nearly forever, I have written poems about life lying dormant in winter–waiting to burst forth in spring.  Nearly forever, I’ve used the metaphor of winter to express the darkest, coldest moments of my human soul.  People who “just don’t get poetry” have read these poems, and commented with a sneer, “You don’t like winter very much!”

But I’m not alone in my choice of metaphor.  The four seasons would be hackneyed symbols in literature, were it not for their universality–their ability to touch sensitive people in many cultures with a common experience.

Disregarding skiers, dog-sled racers, ice skaters, and other lovers of bitter cold weather, I’ll go on dreaming of lilacs.  And while dreaming, there are things to do in anticipation of spring.  I cut dogwood and honeysuckle branches, place them in a vase of water indoors, and watch the buds pop.  I save my long hair, culled from my hairbrush, to hang on tree branches for birds’ nests in May.

No one should ever apologize for dreaming of lilacs!  We have a right to dream! 

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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It’s been said that Wisconsin has four seasons:  Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter/winter/winter/winter/winter.

Actually, in Southern Wisconsin we sometimes have mild days into November.  We can also have winter days in October.  And winter normally stretches into March or April.  Where we lived for eight years in Northern Wisconsin, you can tack three weeks on at each end of winter–making a nice long one!

I’m relearning some things about Southern Wisconsin winter, where Joe and I lived most of our lives.  We do not have the 35 below zero thermometer readings that we had up north–but we do (at least this time around) have a lot more icy, slushy, raw, damp, overcast days.  So it’s a toss up.  However the coin lands, it’s winter in Wisconsin!

Although I get antsy pantsy by about the first of March, I enjoy winter because it’s beautiful to look at–and because I love to craft and READ!  Others love winter because they love to ski.  The important thing is loving something enough to keep on doing it throughout these long weeks. 

Whatever the season, I love to get lost in a huge novel.  Currently, I’m snow plowing my way through Dostoyevsky’s THE IDIOT.  It’s riveting, and ponderous–as are all of Dostoyevsky’s novels.  He was a brilliant Christian worldview writer, and he left us a legacy of works that plumb the depths of the human psyche.

Reading the Russians always takes me a bit more time than reading large novels by English authors, because of the characters’ names.  Russians tend to have more than one name–depending on whomever is addressing them–a formal name, a personal name, etc. 

Creative, but challenging for those of us who are accustomed to one name per person.  When reading the Russians, I sometimes get mixed up as to who’s who! 

Since my maiden name was Margaret Ruth Longenecker, and now I am Margaret Longenecker Been, I’m grateful that I have only one name!  That one is enough for me!

Meanwhile snow is falling, falling, falling.  School closings are popping up all over the place.  What a beautiful time to read!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved  

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