Friday, January 5, 2018

Working during the Storm, by Susan Oleksiw

As I sit down to write this post on Thursday afternoon I’m stymied for something to write about, for a topic that will be fascinating or useful or at least original. But with the snow falling fast and mostly sideways, the plows targeting our driveway for their extra load, the sidewalks impassible despite two passes with a snow blower, I just want to curl up with a good book in my lap, pretend I’m reading, and stare at the flames in the gas-fired franklin stove.

My brain seems to be as frozen as the ice underneath the accumulating snow. Every few minutes the wind hits the house and a loose screen rattles behind a storm window. I don’t feel even a shiver during the strongest gust. The birds have hunkered down but a single brown leaf hangs on to a branch, defying the laws of physics and refusing to be pulled away. I haven’t seen a squirrel all day—smart creatures. I hear a thud, a clunk, and look out the window to see a plow backing into a snow bank in front of our house, preparing to get up speed to attack the snowdrifts in the driveway across the street.

A lone car growls along the poorly plowed street. I hear the sputtering and burring of a snow blower starting up, but when I look up and down the street I don’t see a neighbor out clearing a section of sidewalk or path up to a house. Despite the accumulation on street and yard, I see less than an inch on the top of my car where I would expect to see a crown that would take me a half hour to clear completely. But there is at least two feet of snow settled on the hood. My neighbor’s azalea maintains its shape despite the growing snow cover but my azalea and rhody are nearly crushed by the accumulation.

I may feel I have nothing to say today, but I’m absorbing the sights and sounds of a heavy winter storm, feeling warm and cozy before I feel a sudden hit of cold air on my back that sweeps through the crevices of hundred-year-old windows without adequate weather stripping. This is a great day to be a writer, a day for sitting and absorbing the sounds and feeling of the storm, taking in details that will serve me at a later time.

To find Susan’s work, with and without snowstorms, go here:

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And on Twitter, Susan Oleksiw @susanoleksiw


Irene Bennett Brown said...

Great results from a non-writing experience. Something to remember when weather takes the stage on our writing days. Enjoyed the post.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Very interesting post. Isn't it amazing how we start out with little or nothing to say and then.....


Good luck and God's blessings

Susan Oleksiw said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Irene. Thank you for commenting.

Pam, I began wondering what I could possibly have to say, and then the post wrote itself. Thanks for commenting.

Jacqueline Seewald said...


I'm a fan of your descriptive passages. Thanks for treating us to a wonderful description of the storm.

Susan Oleksiw said...

Thanks, Jacquie. The East Coast got hammered, so all of us writers have good material to work with. Thanks for commenting.

jrlindermuth said...

Much as I despise winter and snowstorms, you took me there with your vivid prose. Enjoyed the read, even as I shiver. Stay safe and warm. We have the frigid temperatures here in my part of Pennsylvania but were spared the heavy snow.

Maris said...

You put me there in the room with you. Nice. Sometimes I forget to take time to observe what’s going on around me. Thanks for the reminder.

Susan Oleksiw said...

John, glad you enjoyed the post. This storm hit a huge part of the US, and we all got to enjoy some aspects of it. Anyone who has the frigid temps has my sympathy--that's what we're getting now, again.

Thanks for the compliment, Maris. After a while it's so easy for me to just think "cold" and "snow," when I know there's so much more to it.

Thank you both for commenting.

Kaye George said...

You brought back memories of growing up in northern Illinois, and of living in Minnesota, Michigan, and Ohio. The memories of Montana are much colder! I can feel your coziness inside, staring at the fire.

Susan Oleksiw said...

Kate, you have certainly lived in enough locations with brutal weather. Another writer said that when winter is over, we forget how bad it was. I'm not sure I can agree. It doesn't take much to bring back those memories of a really bad winter, as you probably know. Thanks for commenting.

Bonnie Tharp said...

Brrr. It's one of those cold days in Kansas today. I'm happy to be inside and only have to venture out for the mail.