“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” -J.M. Barrie (creator of Peter Pan)
There are winters, and then there are winters. I’m talking about the latter. These winters are the kind that solidify the blood in our veins and make us stronger people, in general. I believe that; I do.
I also am a firm believer in the philosophy of taking a difficult situation (like this frigid winter) and turning it into something useful. While I’ve thought about how to make this long, cold winter into something useful and positive, I’ve realized there are 6 things saving me right now …
The 6 Things Saving Me in This Long, Cold Winter
I love to paint, but I admit I haven’t made enough easel time in recent years. For 2014, I’m determined to paint and finish 1 canvas each month this year.
Here’s what I’ve been up to:
I painted the one above this fall (2013) and finished the one below last weekend (Jan ’14).
Winter has unbeatable low lighting and dramatic shades of monochromatic blacks, grays, and whites. This winter, in particular, has been cold and stunning.
In the dead of winter, I need flowers — whether it’s forcing bulbs to bloom indoors or dreaming up what I might plant this coming spring, I need the thought of new growth and life in the dead of winter.
4. Books: Writing and Reading
It’s a long process, working on a novel, polishing it and submitting it and waiting … it’s one that requires much faith and patience, belief and hope. In the meantime, I’ve been working on writing my next novel, which really does save me.
I love to write and write because I must. Like most writers who work and work until they break in, I have several novels in the drawer. But I have something that must be written, something I’m very excited about allowing to come to life through me, and so I’m writing another novel. This time, my work-in-progress novel is set in Prague, the city I love which I moved from with my family about a year ago after living there for four years. Prague is the ultimate city of mystery and beauty. I’m loving living there in my head as I work through the first draft this winter. It, and the writing itself, have me wrapped up and loving this winter. Foul weather is the sweetest thing for writers.
On the flip side of writing, I also love to read and have had the immense privilege of reading two novels in the past two weeks which are not yet on shelves, and the third I loved so much I must mention it here as well.
Set on an island off the Tuscan coast of Italy, The Other Story is about a famous young author as he comes to terms with his past. It’s provocative and interesting as the writer, promiscuous and irresponsible, learns what it is to stand on his own two feet and become the man he wants to be. I highly recommend it.
The story of Impressionist master artists, Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, set in Paris, and their enchanting love affair. It not only has the most beautiful cover I’ve seen in years, but also has the most beautiful writing and telling of historical story that I’ve read recently. I highly recommend it.
If you’re longing for a beach, sunshine, sand, and an unrelenting story, you must go out and find a copy, read it, and then loan it to all of your favorite friends. They’ll thank you for it a hundred times. It’s set in 1930s Rhode Island and New York City, and is a love story tangled up in betrayal, desire, which makes it unputdownable–the best kind of read. I highly recommend it. And I’m not the only one who loves A Hundred Summers… my teammate at Great New Books, Nina Badzin will be recommending it there next week.
My favorite place apart from home this winter is the nearby family gym. We didn’t have access to a single place to run around in when we lived in Prague, which if you’ve ever overwintered with three energetic and highly rambunctious boys in a subzero Celsius climate, you understand that I really appreciate it now. And, I’m finding this winter that if I time my daily miles just right, I’m getting caught up with good shows I missed while abroad, including Grey’s Anatomy. Loving it.
I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t give a huge amount of thanks for the wonderful times with friends and the camaraderie, often spontaneous, always side-splitting with laughter, for making hibernation really great.
So … Spring … is it around the corner, Punxsutawney Phil? Either way, it’s been a good winter. I’d love to hear how you best make it through the long, cold winter!