Beltany Stone Circle, from its west side, sout...

Beltony, up the road from where I lived outside of Raphoe, and where I enjoyed walking my dogs Inca and Honey.

I remember my first holiday in Nebraska. I was expecting something out of The Waltons: snowy fields, blustery cold and a roaring fire. What I got was dry corn stubble poking out of dirt that hadn’t seen snow in weeks and unseasonably warm temperatures. It was so warm, in fact, that I walked the fields thirteen miles outside McCook in shirt sleeves. I didn’t know that Mother Nature would more than make up for that first snowless disappointment. Over the next four years – while I attended Doane College in Crete (just south of Lincoln) – we experienced more than our fair share of blizzards and frozen mornings. To keep warm I stole an arctic Army coat marked “Kiln Crew” from the art department and trudged through knee-deep whiteness to campus.

I had a fair chance of a white Christmas in Donegal, Ireland. Although more often than not the snow mixed with rain and then froze. If that happened I wouldn’t dare drive my car the two miles downhill into Raphoe. We were lucky if a truck came by with grit and even luckier if it was plowed. I’d walk and slide to Raphoe if need be but mostly I’d cancel my yoga classes, tell my bodywork clients to curl up with a good book and then I would do that, too, for as long as the ice lasted. During my last winter in Raphoe we had a few days of freezing fog. On the first day I could see Raphoe from my hilltop. As the fog developed (it didn’t ‘roll in’ like it does through the Golden Gate – the fog in Raphoe seemed to simply manifest itself) the town was wrapped in a white cloud that slowly spread and weightlessly lumbered up my road until everything around me was seen through a veil of drifting ice crystals tumbling on air. It was as if we had all turned to ghosts – the horses, the trees, the fields and the sheep – all ghosts. And I was a ghost, too. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

I prefer my winters and my holidays with a bit of grey. I still feel a tickle of anticipation when the weather forecast promises a dusting of snow on the Santa Cruz Mountains. It won’t snow where I am but that’s a fair trade for the perfect summer days we experience pretty much from April through October.

But I don’t want a perfect summer day today. I want a day that tells me its winter. A day that reminds me of the mountains of plowed sidewalk snow I’ve seen in Nebraska, of the crawling frozen fog in Donegal. I want a day that gives me permission to stay in my pyjamas. And that’s the day I’ve been given.

On this Sunday morning in Northern California the rain is pouring and the skies are dark grey. There’s a fair wind – not too strong but just strong enough. It’s the type of morning that begs for a second cup of coffee with cream and honey. It’s the type of day that calls for warm toast with melted butter and jam. It’s a curling up day.

And that’s what I’m going to do.

550 words (more or less)/about 30 minutes with ten minutes for noodling

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