It’s the time of year when everything feels static. The snow, when it falls, merely adds to snow already there. It’s no longer the miracle of newness that it was earlier in winter. The birds gone for the cold months will not be back for a while, the birds who stayed have settled into their cold weather routine. The roads are bounded by snowbanks that look like they will take years to melt. So too the drifts around the house, and the ice on the pond.
It will change so quickly, though. The sun already reaches the tips of the pines at midday. The owls are nesting, and while most days we don’t see them, we hear them every night. At a friend’s barn, the goats are pregnant to point that it appears one good stretch by the kids they carry will pop them like balloons.
As my son pointed out to me today, every moment is the end of the world, because the world changes so constantly that what we know is always ending. By the same token, something else is always beginning.
It’s been just about exactly seven years since I started writing again. That first year, possibly longer, I lived in fear that what could start so abruptly could end the same way. Writing had to take precedence over everything, because I had to get the words down before they vanished again. Yes, that time was thrilling, but because I couldn’t trust it would last, I was driven to do only what could be accomplished quickly.
It’s only been in the last year that I’ve developed enough control to not hurry hurry hurry. Given the chance between reading with the kids or writing, I can make time for the reading without thinking the writing will be lost forever. Time with kids is finite, after all, while stories, whether written or not, have been proven to stick in my head. The ones that don’t? The reality is that they wouldn’t make it through the writing process anyway.
Late winter, early spring–they will always be hard for me. It’s how I’m wired. I’m old enough to know the pattern, to know what will change and what will not. But there is this thing that happens each year when the grasp of winter seems impossible. Just a flicker, the tickle of memory. Words swimming in a bowl, swirling, until I can make out the pattern, see what they say.
When the winter wouldn’t end, when I didn’t believe I would ever have anything to say, I sat down at my desk and began. I wrote. It was enough then. It is enough now. Because when the winter will not end, when more doors than not open into despair, there is this one thing: I wrote. I write. I always will.