Monthly Archives: February 2014

Winter Natter

“Cold ‘nuf for ya?”

Um, yes, after all it is winter. How many times during these brumal months are we subjected to such a banal and hackneyed query.

Let’s see, on the cusp of March, so yeah, it is bitter cold outside. I peered out the frosted kitchen window this morning and noticed the thermometer read -5 degrees. (That’s without the wind chill of -18, in case you were wondering.)

But being in the midst of winter, New Englanders expect such harsh conditions. And yet the question persists:

“Damn cold out there, eh buddy?”

Yeah. I get it. It’s cold. Damn cold.

Once removed from the confines of such trite bores, I find freedom embracing the cold. There is nothing quite like taking an early morning walk and run with Andi, crossing the street and bounding through the cemetery to fields beyond, and immerse my soul in the quietude of nature.

On a towering hillock of snow shoved against a split-rail fence, I stood and embraced the feeble sun. Andi patrolled the frozen pasture below, sniffing at another dog’s paw prints.

There was a slight bitter breeze, an invisible slice of brutal cold that cut through one’s bones. Yet I stood and felt the faint warmth of our blinding star on my face.

Alone, atop a hill, I was…captivated. Calm and content. One with nature. At peace.

I stayed that way for a good fifteen minutes, gazing at the serene scene before me, thinking how utterly quiet it was. Nothing moved, everything was rooted in a deep freeze. Not a bird flew by. Behind me, snow-laden boughs of pines rustled, a soft, alluring susurrus of sylvan sirens, dryads wooing me from darkled woods.

An arctic chill woke me from my revelry. I looked down. Andi was staring at me, shivering. I thought it best to trundle home. (Well, I did; Andi padded effortlessly on top of knee-deep snowbanks.)

At home, with Andi secured in a blanket or two, I ran an errand to the Town Hall. A queue had formed at the town clerk’s office.

“Cold ‘nuf, for you?”, an elderly woman said to another woman in line.

“Yeah, sure is. And did you hear? More snow on the way.”

Patiently I waited my turn among such prattle, and thought about mere moments ago, standing on a mound of brilliant snow, embraced by the wind and sun.

Another month of winter is nigh, the incessant chitter-chatter of chill and cold will persist, but it will be those moments, of standing still in the thick of frigid air, that will propel me past the palaver and find peace of body and soul.

©Paul Grignon-2014, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

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Moments in Vermont…

049

Night flakes in Vermont

The state of Vermont is fine fodder indeed for brewing a batch of blogs.

It remains a distinct pleasure to know that after a long, hard day at work, travels to distant and such inviting lands await.

So it was a week ago that we ventured to these northern climes, under the brilliant guise of a gravid moon. It followed us through bare trees as we turned north on 91, then to route 9. From there a mere 22.5 miles, to enchanting environs, and to a house nestled comfortably in the crook of snow-laden pines.

053

Blissful Evening

The house sat high in the hills, and the winding snow-packed dirt road offered little purchase. But our vehicle managed to slip and slide up the treacherous slope.

021We pulled into the driveway. Andi was bewildered and wondered where he was. Surrounded by dense woods and lit by the luminescence of that beautiful nocturnal orb, we disembarked.

034

“What’s down there?”

Andi immediately patrolled the grounds, sniffing the snow and crusted footprints, before following the human subjects into warmer confines.

I was left to the elements and to unpacking the laden car. But just standing there—alone—in the driveway, under a canopy of a billion stars, I breathed deep the cool, invigorating mountain air.

The moment, and silence…was perfect.

It was magical. The ethereal, dark beauty. Quiet and timeless.

007Magnificence!

A lucky man, indeed.

055The next day we were greeted by a blinding and welcome sun. The day would prove perfect for skiing, and while most deigned to don heavy winter gear for the slopes, I stayed behind and chose to dig a path around the house.

102It was great exercise, and I tunneled through three feet of snow so I could chase Andi around the yard.

017This was the shovel I used. What a great invention! The handle was perfectly situated as it alleviated the stress in your wrist. I must find one of these. It looks like it could be an attachment for the Wolverine:

“Oh, honey. Would you mind exchanging your lethal metal claws for a bit and shovel the driveway?”

“Yes, dear. Of course.”

Think of it; he’d be done in no time!

050During the evening, I took Andi out for a pee. (Him, not me. Although I must admit I had already consumed a few beers…) He paused {pawsed?} and stared ahead. I stopped too, for there appeared to be some creature lurking about the darkened driveway. Andi wasn’t having any of that and begged for the warmth within. I readily agreed, and we both fled inside. Who knows what creatures slink about in such spooky, dark woods?

It proved to be nothing more than a low-hanging branch, weighed down by ice and snow. But still. One has to be careful.

058Our worries were for naught, and the next morning I espied this lovely birdhouse condo, a snow-covered chalet built for a cluster of sparrows.

043On one of our many walks over the long, holiday weekend, I took this shot of a malevolent-looking cloud, a hellish clown-like visage that peered down at the valley with a menacing scowl. Very odd. And frightening. As though a harbinger of imminent mayhem.

137In the morning, though, such mystery and malice were banished by yet another stunning sunrise, replete with a refraction of a slice of watermelon. (I have no idea how that appeared in the photo.)

All in all it was a lovely respite, one spent amongst comfortable, welcoming, and relaxed folk, where one can do whatever the hell you wanted to do, without judgment, without a million queries, with no talk about exchanging dogs for an orange cat. Just a simple, fun, calm, and wonderful time.

Moments such as these, spent in the beautiful state of Vermont, are memories that will linger long.

Much thanks and appreciation go to all those who always make our visit there so memorable and inviting.

If perchance you find yourself wending snowy lanes to the Green Mountain State, may your own sojourn bring you as much peace and joy.

Copyright, Paul Grignon-2014, All Rights Reserved.

Character Immersion…

So I’ve been woefully neglecting my WPI, a Dystopian love story that takes place in the near future. For added authenticity, I thought I’d live my protagonist, a slice of ‘his’ life. I thought it a good idea to get into his head, to better get into gear and off my sorry ass to finish my damn novel.

‘K. stands hidden in a stand of pine in the dead of winter somewhere in New Hampshire. He contemplates his life now, of what has transpired in the past few months, years even.

He is fond of Jack Daniels and, cloistered under the cover of shadows, he pulls out a pint and takes a long swallow.

He stands and gazes out at what the country has become. He then thinks of J., a woman he met briefly, only once, and yet that one time is etched firmly in his head……’

So begins my manuscript. Well, sort of. Don’t want to give too much away in style.

I thought I’d immerse myself in his shoes, feel what he experiences, and with that visceral approach, I thought it would stimulate me to put pen to paper.

So here are a few visuals to help you ‘feel’ the mood of my book-in-progress. (The revision part is hell, isn’t it?)

011Taken from inside my barn, internal temperature about 15 degrees. My writing pad, and a shot of whiskey. On the chair rests a plaid shirt that belonged to my Dad.

014A painting I did of my father. He looks down at me, balefully, seemingly shaking his head at his wastrel son.

020That’s me, sitting in the same chair, whiskey in the foreground. Here I sit in the cold, feeling what my protagonist feels, thinking about a myriad of things.

015Paintings by Sargent and Chagall keep me company, another artistic Muse that lies dormant, as evidenced by the next photo.

016Ah yes, there it is. My vacant easel. At least the wood panel residing on it has a coat of gesso. In the upper left corner is a painting done by my grandmother, restored beautifully by my brother Joe.

017And here sits a jumbled mass of frozen paints. Perhaps in the spring they will thaw and I’ll be able to slap something on that vacant canvas.

013But back to my protagonist, his scotch, and his thoughts.

I sit in that chair, sit in the god-awful cold, feel what ‘he’ feels, and then I begin to put pen to paper.

Let’s see, where was I? Oh yes.

‘K. pockets the bottle and descends the hill. Thoughts of J. weigh heavily in his mind. He must find a way to…’

And so continues my revision.

Do you, on occasion, ever ‘live’ your own character?

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2014-All Rights Reserved.

Winter Wonders…

Winter Blue

Winter Blue

Andi and I crossed the road, past the cemetery, and entered a fallow frozen field where ankle-deep  snow greeted us. Above, chem-trails criss-crossed the sky, the only blight to an otherwise perfect expanse of azure.

Here, in the depths of winter, after much frolicking about, did I pause to take in the splendor before me.

snowfallI watched as the distant feeble sun still held sway over snow-dusted branches. The tiny warmth emitted caused small cascades of snow to fall. It reminded me of Mount Crumpet, when the Grinch was struggling to keep the overloaded sled from plunging off the edge. Remember that scene? Small balls of snow fell, little frozen puffs followed by a fine mist of even smaller flakes, all tumbling to the depths below.

new england sceneThe quintessential New England landscape, replete with a sagging red shack. Upon closer inspection of the fence, I noticed a tuft on a post that remarkably resembled those Hostess sno-balls. I cannot recall ever eating one of them as they never appeared edible.

Snowball

‘Sno’ ball

railEven the rail sported a spiky countenance, tufts of ice sprouting from its surface. Beyond the fence lay a pristine pasture and, on closer inspection, the winter stubble of grass poking its blades out wore a winter wig of white.

Winter Stubble

Winter Stubble

Frozen berries on frozen limbs also added their own individual brumal touch.

Merry Berries

Merry Berries

Further along the field, a milkweed pod imitated beautifully a Canadian goose, the pod wearing a most flattering chapeau of white as well.

Canadian Pod?

Canadian Pod?

country roadPast the pasture Andi and I ventured along a winding winter road and, on closer inspection, where parcels of pavement had been strewn with sand, it looked like the inside of a Charleston Chew should one have deigned to tear it apart.

candy barClose to home, our barn provided a lovely study of shadows, our beautiful blue heron (a reminder of my dear Dad), the rusted flower pail, and the slant of black all commingling to present a winter still life.

Brumal Barn

Brumal Barn

And I couldn’t resist this last pic, of Andi embracing our monstrous cat, Boo, a perfect way to end a winter stroll.

Andi & Boo

Andi & Boo

Copyright, Paul Grignon-2014, all rights reserved.