January 7, 2015

L'hiver est là

You know what winter is?


Forget that death and rebirth tinsel.


Winter is being able to count all the nests in a tree when the leaves are gone. That which was hidden, protected and private now bare and exposed.


Winter is waking up to find a maze of foot trails in the snow. You just had your meter read by BGE and you didn’t even know it. Elliptical, two-beat imprint between the house and the tree: a running squirrel. Tinier steps, rhomboid pattern: the fox from two weeks ago crossing neighboring properties at night. You walk to the pier, only to find someone was already there before you.


Your house is surrounded by creatures and ghosts. They live and walk around you, watch and ignore you, your oblivious self none the wiser until the snowy palimpsest presents itself.


Winter is acorn husks in the back yard all dug up, hollow and empty. Will you panic as you try to remember your last-resort hiding spots? How long can you live without? Are you going to be enough until spring?


People cross the icy water in waders at sunrise. No duck or goose is safe from the shotgun blasts.


On the other side of the hunt, you sleep naked among claptrapping screen doors and trash bins tumbleweeding down the street. You wake up in the middle of the night, hearing the wind howl through the thin wall that stands between your goose skin and the blizzard, snowy footsteps and ghosts.


You know how to walk this house in the dark. Your naked flesh is a silent glimpse in between the rooms, a twister of energy bouncing off the walls as you traverse its space. With no lights turned on, the reflection in the mirror is your own ghost self, hunkering down, building a love in pockets of stolen happiness, one barefoot snow step at a time.


  1. Beautiful. So glad to recieve this.

    1. Thank you, Cindi. The PhD has been sucking the life out of me, I've missed writing for myself.

  2. I absolutely abhor winter, or anything below 65 degrees for that matter, but I'd love to walk in your winter. I know I've been a terrible blog friend.I'm in the same boat, no PhD, just a dinky bachelors in English and philosophy. Completely useless degree to anyone other than a teacher or a writer. I've already been the teacher, now it's time for me.

    We don't get much snow down here. But watching the swans huddled under my patio table, hiding inside themselves during a rainstorm can be a bit hypnotic, especially when they stand for a good stretch once in a while. Enormous, beautiful creatures, but mean as hellfire.

    1. Ha. I am not a winter person at all, especially in the city back home. It's been tough to get any spot in the house above 65 degrees lately, but it is my first Maryland winter, and will therefore never be forgotten.

      My own supervisor recently gave a TV interview, and she said that human and social scientists are by no means ivory-tower birds, but forensics of social events and absolutely necessary to society. Whether one wants to toot that horn or not, critical thinking is a marginalized, and dangerous, skill nowadays. I wouldn't give mine up no matter how many annoyed looks, "aaarghs" or changed topics of conversation I get when someone asks about my work. A mad scientist can build you a machine, but I will tell you what's wrong with it. Legislators will propose measures, but I can tell you how they can be better. It is your time, and I am glad you took it. Take pictures :)

      I could look at animals all day, pets or wildlife. I don't know of anything more soothing, humbling or meditative. I give them every compliment and all the leeway in the world that I would never give humans. Over here it's ducks, geese, deer, an occasional hawk and osprey at other times of the year. The bay iced over a few days ago, and people are now walking on the ice, poking holes in it. It's an upside-down world, the kind where women like me don't end up in, and there are days when I ask myself how I got here and what we're doing to each other. Should be an interesting ride.


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