22 tagged with #winter

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i didn't realize that we'd been blanketed by snow until the sun woke me by lancing brilliantly through the eaves towards my head, energized by the reflection off streets, trees, roofs. and even then, i blinked through the glare and didn't understand why the rectangle was bright, why i couldn't see the scraggly limbs across the way, why the colors were warm instead of dingy.

it was quiet. i couldn't hear tires struggling to produce traction, or plows scraping the ice, or the drips of slipping snowbanks. i couldn't hear the confused birdsong, the urgent gusts.

on days like this, i cannot bear to be the first to break the silence.

12 February 2018 23:09

heavy fog

at just past noon, not enough light slips through the fog to get to my windows; i mistake it for dusk. i can hear the past few days of snowpack sliding down the gutters, along the channels i cut towards the drains so we wouldn't be flooded out.

hours later, when i'm returning from errands, i pass through a slight dip in the road. the fog pools there, swept through the trees and rows of houses. it clogs my eyes and nose, smelling like confusion. crows pass overhead, the beating of their wings stirring the air; i hear and feel them more than anything else. i trip over mud i didn't see.

i don't understand this weather. this weather is real.

11 February 2018 19:55

bike greetings

some people frown at me when they see me on my bicycle. sometimes, it's their response to imagining themselves on a bicycle. 'can't you walk to work instead? what about the bus?'

sometimes it's a frustration that i'm in their way, that my presence forces them to be more careful, that they're worried something bad might happen to me and they have to see it.

but sometimes, i'll pass someone who looks at me and grins through their scarf. sometimes, i pass the old security guard who's been keeping an eye out for me since i was a teenager, and raise a hand in greeting. 'hey! you're making me look bad,' he protests.

'you can be out here with me, too,' i shout back, and his reply is blown away by the wind as i slide around the corner.

07 February 2018 15:23


some days, the sun seems to set inconceivably fast, and a pale moon sprouts in the sky as if it sprouted from a tree and escaped into orbit. the light glows harshly for a few moments, then fades as the sun struggles to light through slanted layers of atmosphere. we've filled the air with things that clog the sun's breath.

the moon strengthens as it climbs, brightens as the sun rolls into the distance. the city sounds different at night, when the sun can no longer see what is happening. i rarely hear distant cars the way they sound at dusk, when tendrils of pink slide further and further into the distant river valley.

i am always surprised at how quickly it grows cold in the winter.

28 January 2018 20:50


i have this distinct memory of a long, blowing expanse of white ground under a grey sky. dark smudges lined the edges; pine trees, inky black against the snow. the sound of a plastic dish separating my puffy pants from the ice, a terrifying endless crunch. i was afraid to grab the sides, in case the rolled edge leaned over too far and trapped my mittened fingers against the ground. it hurt my cheeks, and my eyes, and small shreds of ice sprayed over my face and tunneled for the warmth of my neck under a scarf.

that scarf is still here. i keep it inside a table that stores all the things i don't feel like getting rid of, but also don't need to use ever again. i have two other scarves, and i still only wear one scarf, ever.

people say iowa is flat, with unbounded spreading cornfields, but i remember this hill, and other hills. i remember the hill from my house to the road, a long stretch of concrete that i was afraid to bike down for the first four years that i knew how to ride a bicycle. i remember a dense woodland where my neighbors would take me mushroom-picking, which ended at train tracks rumored to be haunted by all the ghosts of people who couldn't handle the slow, futureless daily turns of a mediocre life in the midwest.

in the second grade, we were obsessed with ghosts; a friend and i made up chants and rituals that would force ghosts to reveal themselves, and we tried them everywhere. 'chant green ghost until you see the green ghost appears, then you'll know how many times you have to say it,' was one of our experimental methods; the green ghost was a flicker of green that would appear on the screen of the old projector reel system our teacher used to show us films. i don't remember any of those films. 'ghosts come from people who died when they were sad or angry,' i whispered.

'oh, like my uncle gary!' he cheerfully responded. i only nodded; i didn't know his uncle gary, but i knew i was always helping to look for him. 'green ghost, green ghost, green ghost, green ghost, green ghost, green ghost,' he said, holding up another finger each time so he could keep track. when he exceeded ten, i started holding up my fingers to help. we got to fourteen counts before we saw the flicker again, and stifled our gasps so the teacher wouldn't hear us.

we tried fourteen as the magic number, but we never saw the ghost again that day.

once, we spotted a pair of boots sticking out from under the brush by the creek; we took a stick and moved the bushes, and saw that they ended in a pair of jeans, and then a tarp. the tarp looked long enough to cover a body. the boots didn't stir when we shouted, or when we nudged the toes.

'it's a body,' one of the other kids said. we ran away, screaming, and never told anyone else. i had this sense that people died in the woods all the time, from stories my mother told me of her childhood in far north china where wolves stole children and tornadoes picked grown men off mountains. sometimes, i walk in the woods and feel a pull, as if the earth has a memory that i released by stepping on the right rock, and i wonder how many bodies have passed by.

27 January 2018 18:21

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