Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | March 15, 2017

winter muse

We had snow yesterday, though not as much as everybody had originally forecasted. I live in south Philly, where any snow accumulation at all makes life difficult. The streets are tightly situated already, and the parking challenges are well known enough to have had several reality shows on TV devoted to it. Getting snow plows through all of it is a challenge for the city, so we can very easily become stuck in place if there were a storm with any real heavy accumulation. The snowstorm that started Monday night through yesterday turned to sleet before it could add on much more than about five inches, which was plenty for us judging from the morning commute challenges.

I’ve read before that winter (and its snow accompaniment) is a strong catalyst for writers. Perhaps winter naturally implements an environment to open a writer’s mind in some way. People often speak of curling up with a good book when stuck indoors during a snowstorm. Maybe we associate our need to let our imagination go free when we are restricted otherwise.

I’m curious what many of my writer friends that are not fans of the winter think about this. I’m sure they can be productive with their writing without having to enjoy the snowy circumstances, of course, but I’m wondering if they would agree with the assertion that wintertime can bring it on.

For me, I love this weather and there’s a big part of me that yearns for the paralyzing snowstorm, despite the fact that as I and my family get older it’s not a very practical yearning. It’s the little kid in me wanting to crawl back into my favorite books, selecting the winter scenes where I get to be with Boromir and the gang in Lord of the Rings, or maybe Jack London’s To Build a Fire with an alternate ending. Memories of camping with the scouts when I was a kid resurfaced, including times when I wasn’t up to the challenge of dealing with the cold. It still stays with me.

Monday night was glorious for me as I saw the first snowflakes coming down at night. I was drinking tea, reading and writing as I prolonged my bedtime. I made sure to restock the little cat shelter I have in my backyard with fresh food and water, and extra coverings (South Philly has lots and lots of feral cats) and wondered if it would be warm enough.

The next morning I saw that my shelter had several visits during the night and day, though I can’t be sure it had an inhabitant during the whole night (if I go out to check it scares them away), but I do know that he/she seemed content when they left. I suppose my writing will have to include this sort of thing sooner or later as I can easily see half of the characters in my novel doing the exact same thing.

By the end of the day, the weather was still icy cold but the super-storm feeling had passed, and the knowledge that the next day would be back to work had the effect of lifting the spell I was under.

I’m back at work today, and during lunch it was snowing outside. Guess where my mind was?

🙂

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