My favorite coffee mug in my current office. So unpredictable, the things we love.

My favorite coffee mug in my current office. So unpredictable, the things we love.

Astute readers of this blog will already guess (by the title of this post) that yes, Lesley is still out of town and Laura is at it again. Hence, no blog posting last week (I was very, very busy) and this week’s obscurely poetic title. You do not suffer alone, we all miss Lesley when she goes off meditating and yoga-ing and such. Argh. In warm and sunny places no less. Leaving us here with dirty, melting mountains of snow and ice. On May 1st. I am not bitter. Cranky, but not bitter.

Then, as I was making my coffee I became aware (this is where my teenager usually says something piercing like “deep, mamma, deep”) that I wasn’t exactly cranky. It was something less concrete…restless (OK, it is sort of spring)…eager (yes, I’m getting a new office for my design studio next week and can barely sit still in my current, cluttered space)…but that doesn’t quite hit the mark…ah, ha (that’s my inspired voice inside my head at which point my teenager usually just leaves the room) I’m anticipating my nostalgia for my present office!

Leave it to a writer to over-analyse a simple hunger pang in the morning.


"Willow Wisp Cottage" aka the old post office in Copper Harbor.

“Willow Wisp Cottage” aka the old post office in Copper Harbor.

Mudminnow’s often”silent” partner–by which I mean she steadfastly refuses to blog (howdy Lloyd)–occasionally lends me the use of this adorable little yellow house in Copper Harbor so that I can clear my head of the usual pressures of book design, small press publishing, teaching, and parenting long enough to remember that I set out in life to write poetry.

I spent a weekend reading and writing without interruption here in March when the snow was so deep I couldn’t find trails without snow shoes. And just last weekend spent another two days when the only change in the landscape was that I could sometimes find bare pavement to walk on. All the more reason to stay inside and write.

So today is just a small thank you for all those unsung patrons out there who help artists be artists in whatever ways they can, large or small.

Here is my suggested list, just in case you want to enter the ranks of patron but don’t have an entire cottage to lend someone:

1. Do not mock (this includes that slightly surprised look when you hear for the first time that your sibling, child, spouse, friend, etc. is writing).

2. Do not interrupt. Yes I know it was just to pop your head in and say good morning or how’s it going but that’s how the train of thought gets derailed.

3. Do not insist on reading something before it is ready to be read (only the writer will decide this).

4. When in doubt about how to characterize what your particular artist is up to don’t try. This is the “silence is golden” rule of art patronage.

5. And when your artist does attempt to share something of what they’ve been pouring their poor heart and soul into (not always successfully) listen closely enough to make an intelligent comment. And false praise is never good, but encouragement is always welcome.

There, pretty simple really. Off you go…


The Secret Language of Snow*

February 19, 2013

snow covered branches

Qali n the twilight.

I’ve been thinking about snow. Considering where I live, this probably comes as no surprise. Snow is a part of life here, and for nearly six months of the year, it’s the biggest part of life. You don’t plan anything, or do anything, without considering how snow fits in.  Given how snow defines the parameters of life in the far north, you would think its vocabulary would be more extensive.

But aside from some meteorological terms like sleet, hail, ice, or blizzard (which really aren’t “snow” at all), we’re quite unimaginative when it comes to the frozen white stuff.  But other cultures defined by snow, like the Inuits, aren’t nearly as general. They’ve got LOTS of words for snow. For instance ….

Annui: “Falling Snow”

Api: “Snow on the Ground”

Pukak: “Snow That Causes Avalanches”

Qali: “Snow That Collects Horizontally on Trees”

Kanik: “Rime”

Upsik: “Wind-Beaten Snow”

Siqoq: “Swirling or Drifting Snow”

Kimoagruk: “Snow Drift:

Qamaniq: “Bowl-shaped Hollow Around the Base of a Tree

Siqoqtoaq: “Sun Crust”

Every tree on my property has qali on it, and I’ve got the mother of all kimoagruks in front of my house. Not to mention the one that keeps trying to take hold in my driveway. And tonight we’re expecting a lot of api. Now we’re talking! This is snow language I can really embrace!

The next time you look at a snowy landscape, take just a moment. What are you really seeing?


* The Secret Language of Snow is actually the title of a children’s book written by a friend of mine, Terry Tempest Williams. It’s the first book she ever wrote, co-authoring it with Ted Williams (the founder and Director Emeritus of the Teton Science School) in 1984. It’s long out of print, but if you ever stumble across a copy – buy it! It’s fabulous, and it still makes my Top Ten Best Books List.

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