Saturday, January 26, 2013

Going Skating on the Creek

I don't remember how old I was when I got my skates for Christmas. I just remember how excited I was. Finally, I had my own pair of white figure skates.

A few years later we moved out to the country where a rambling creek flowed behind our house-and those of my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. While the creek provided lots of playtime all year round-Winter was my favorite season, especially when the creek froze. That's when my cousins and I spent hours outside, and most of that time was skating.

Day and night-whenever we could-we'd be down there. It didn't matter what the temperature was or how hard the wind was blowing or how fast the snowflakes fell.We'd be on the creek-swirling and twirling; playing and pretending. It was fun lying on our stomachs and looking down into the frozen water. Creek grass and gnarly reeds appeared suspended in time. It was like looking into a water globe where nothing can move.

Sometimes we'd pack a sandwich, fill a thermos with hot chocolate and go on an adventure up the creek to see how far we could go. There were places where we'd have to climb over fallen trees or places that weren't frozen; places where the creek flowed freely by. Being kids, those places were like magnets. We'd play around the edges. We'd throw little twigs in the swirling water and follow them for as long as we could. If we ever did get soaking wet, I don't remember. Childhood is immune to the cold. Wet hands and feet are part of play.

Perhaps the best time skating on that creek was at night, especially when the moon was full and the stars numbered in the zillions. Those were the times we'd lay there, and dream and talk and Wonder-for when you are a kid, the world is full of Wonder and creeks are made for skating.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

'Certificate of Success' Rooted in a Chicken Coop!

I recently learned that surprises can come after Christmas too when I went to the post office and found a slip in my mailbox. There was a package for me. I couldn't figure out who it'd be from since anything I'd ordered had arrived-been wrapped-put under the tree-and opened on Christmas morning. When the box was brought to the counter I learned it was from my book publisher. I was clueless as to what was inside. I wasn't expecting anything. Once home, I put the box on the table and opened it which wasn't easy because whatever was inside had been carefully packaged. After all the bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts were put aside, I turned whatever it was over and was dumbfounded by what I read.

There in front of me, beautifully framed, was a 'Certificate of Success' awarded me for 'outstanding achievement in Book Sales for 'The Reindeer Keeper' dated December 1, 2012. The Certificate included a photo of the book cover and was signed by the publisher. While I prefer to keep this blog strictly centered on my stories and recollections of growing up in the country and not use it as a platform to sell books, I felt this time was an exception for as I read the Certificate my mind wandered back to those early days in the country and the chicken coop clubhouse where my cousins and I played and pretended most every day growing up. It didn't matter that in the winter some of the windows were without glass or that the old, wooden door was crooked at the top-allowing snow to come in. It never mattered to us for when your imagination is in flight-you're warm despite the cold surrounding you; it's sunny despite rain or snow falling; it's magic the way childhood should be especially when surrounded by favorite books by favorite authors-and rambling fields, and a creek where we'd ride rafts made out of telephone poles, and a granary, and a pine groove-and an amazing old barn that stayed in my heart and followed me into adulthood and became a part of 'The Reindeer Keeper.'

This 'Certificate of Success' is rooted in my childhood for childhood is where we freely express who we are at our core-free of worries and opinions and fears. Playing in the chicken coop clubhouse I often pretended I was an author. My penname was Maggie O'Shea. I'd fold paper into pretend books and 'write.' Still to this day, I can hear the wind coming through the chicken coop as we played. I remember our Easter parades-our fairs-our circus in the barn; our pretending that the stagecoach was pulling up or that the chicken coop was a library. So many memories and hopes and dreams are wrapped up in this Certificate-an after-Christmas present that I wanted to share with you!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In The Still of January

I've written before about my love of January. After the rush and stress of the holidays, I consider the first month of the year a gift that continues to give for thiry-one gloriously cold, windy and snowy days and nights. January's beauty touches the soul; inspires the creative; rekindles the heart. Its stillness soothes the mind, and in the process, opens one to possibilities and acceptance and appreciation of the little things. January warms the heart with amazing sunrises and sunsets spreading over fields of glittering diamonds and wondrous icicles lined up one next to the other and pastures tucked in blankets of white and rambling drifts that disappear beyond the horizon.

January's harshness is not to be dreaded. It's to be embraced with homemade soups and breads, hot cereal and hot chocolate, coffee and tea, good books, fires in the fireplace, skis, skates, sleds, toboggans, old favorite blankets, long underwear, wool sweaters, warm socks and mittens, good snow tires, quality boots, and plenty of candles should the power go out-and it most likely will!

January is not to be wasted or crossed off in wait of spring. January is the month I began writing The Reindeer Keeper. January is the month I sewed a complete summer wardrobe for myself when growing up in the country. January is the month in this year of 2013 that I will begin editing The Snowman Maker. January is most certainly a gift to unwrap and embrace. Stillness heals. Stillness stirs one's spirit. Happy January! Happy New Year!

(Above photo is of one of the many fields covered in snow surrounding my grandparents' farmhouse. The tall tree in the background is the tree we considered way far away. It wasn't. But we were kids and kids see things differently). You can see things differently-after all, it's January!