I’m so happy that a cold snap arrived. Not everyone is, but for writers, the change of season is especially delicious, an invitation for tucking away with our pages. I just found this piece I wrote years ago:

While stirring honey into a cup of chai, the rhythmical clinking of the spoon sets the cadence for memories of recent hikes and nights under the stars, laughter with good friends these past weeks. I stand at the kitchen island, not sure of what to do next. My summer favorites are stored away with sleeveless blouses and strappy sandals. My stirring changes direction, and with it the swirl of tea. Ebony perches expectantly, not quite sitting, waiting near the bar stool, she looks up. Tail wagging. What now?  

“Good question, sweet girl,” I say patting her head. She looks long at the leash hanging on a hook by the door. I have so much work to do. Office chores I’ve long put off to be outdoors. “I’ll take you for a w-a-l-k when the day warms a bit.”  

My mind lingers on summer dreams and expectations left unrealized, and now the clouds are heavy and the wind sharp. I watch tardy leaves and snowflakes playing chase around the yard. A flock of starlings on their way south alight in the back pecking at the last of the crab apples that fell after we’d raked and cleaned up. What a mess, these crab apples. I’m glad now that some were left. I step closer to the window to watch the tiny birds so busy about their task. They are focused, clear on what they are to be doing. I’m enchanted by them and a little melancholy too. Just yesterday my hands knew what to do in that dark lovely soil, tugging out crowded roots, spading up, making room, and bedding down. My lower back says I’m ready to slow and tuck into a new and different cadence, but my heart is resistant. I wish for more days of flight, of clarity, of soaking every ounce of sunshine while riding bikes, hiking, jogging, gathering wildflowers, bare toes along a riverbank. 

The snow is falling heavy now, sticking to blades of grass, the red willows, blanketing the flower beds. I set the teaspoon on a napkin and take a sip; the spices tickle my nose. The work day is calling. I want to stall it a moment longer. My soul needs time to shift. I have somewhere I want to be. Someone I want to be. A splash of milk added to the cup, and I open my journal. 

It’s not of the fancy variety. This journal is beat, corners turned, ink smudged. Loose pages are stuck in here and there, nested like twigs and leaves. Flipping through pages, I skim back over recent entries and re-remember the many delights, as well as the trying and painful ones. What a solid little storehouse of treasures I find here, this collection of scribbled bits, arrows, lists, and half-baked thoughts. Only for me now. One day, I’ll sift and sort and borrow phrases from here and there, and with heavy revisions, discover something for others too. Soon. But not yet.

For now, I turn my back to the desk, crossing the hardwood floor with my cup and journal to the gold overstuffed chair with cushions that broke down far too soon for the price we paid. Making it perfect. The dog echoes my thoughts as she flops down with a sigh in front of the fire. I tuck my feet under me, wrap in a woolen throw, and pick up a favorite pen. It’s just the right weight and feels as lovely upon this new page as stepping into fresh fallen snow.

I step in and tiptoe down wooded paths, cross a mountain stream, slipping only once as the day warms and I visit the old playhouse in the willows before venturing just past the meadow, until I find it. Until I climb the branches of this secret treehouse…knock and wait, and tentatively open the small door to a magical sanctuary. 

Crawling in on hands and knees, I take quick inventory. It’s just as I left it. A sunbeam sprinkles the light with shimmers. I tidy, with a branch broom and perch on the tree stump, finding all manner of green things still in bloom. Outside the sky and birds. And I am here. Hello, friend. Here I am. This heart, this voice. This imagination is mine, if not simpler, less harried, more open to possibility. I brush my palm across a page. In this moment, all restlessness stills, and I’m reminded that my heart is full. Maybe even content.