A postal delivery changes the writer's mental state from dormancy to energetic activity.
|Looking out over my front lawn from my office windows where I have been struggling for several hours to begin a short story for presentation at my next writer’s group meeting I noticed the remaining snow from last week’s storm shimmering with an icy sheen laced by mid-morning shadows. The morning sun’s brightness exacerbated the contrast between the blindingly white snow and the dark elongated shadows pointing north by northwest.
In my periphery, toward the sides of my office windows, two crab apple trees, totally nude of greenery, stand guard over my crystallized lawn. Their gnarled boughs, having flaked pieces of bark onto the snow, extend helter-skelter from the main trunk, while last year’s suckers point skyward from the tree’s acme reminiscent of ramrod soldiers.
Squirrel tracks mar the glazed snow and like the gnarled crab apple branches; the tracks offer little sense of direction, yet meld perfectly into the scene’s crispness. As I stare at the random, yet geometric beauty that is on display, three large black crows land dead-center between the two trees searching for whatever scraps that may have been catapulted onto the snow covered lawn by last night’s westerly wind. The crows strut purposely away from the snow bank along my lawn’s outer border obviously aware that a nocturnal predator had marked a trail along an unseen path.
Stark beauty is evident throughout my field of vision as I slowly realize that the penetrating cold that we have been experiencing will be lingering for several more days and with it the frozen snow. The longer I stare the more rapidly my imagination begins to wander as I become oblivious to the frigidness of the scene before me and begin to yearn for considerably warmer weather, imagining a greener rather than a white and brown lawn.
For the past several months I have felt a kinship to the masted ships of yore that were often caught in the southern doldrums anxiously waiting a following breeze to fill their sails. Now that the winter solstice is past, I too have been anxiously waiting for a sign like those calmed ships, a sign that will lift my spirits like their sails.
In the background, I could hear my wife greeting the mailman at the side door. She had been anxiously waiting his daily visit hoping for something to be delivered other than the proverbial junk mail. Quickly closing the door to ward off the cold air that is attempting to rush into our warm and cozy home, she hollers back to me, “These seed companies must love you. You’ve got three seed catalogs today.”
“Now that’s an omen I have been waiting for,” I responded excitedly as I dashed into the kitchen to retrieve my catalogs. “A Gurney’s catalog is a time-tested harbinger that sub-arctic blasts from Canada will soon be over and milder weather is imminent.”
Giddy with excitement, I quickly scanned the catalog covers, pausing to peer out the kitchen door onto the backyard where my garden beds appeared as white mound-like graves laid side-by-side. I could actually visualize the snow melting, percolating through the organic soil as it replenishes the groundwater. For a moment, I thought I could smell the sweet, subtle aroma emanating from the rotting straw that had been protectively laid last fall over the three-year old asparagus and lily beds and the more recent iris and peony beds.
Suspended in my moment of fantasy, I could visualize asparagus spears poking their pointed green shoots through the straw cover towards the warm sunshine and even taste the succulent flavor of fresh asparagus mindful that it would not be much longer before we would be enjoying this very special and delectable vegetable. I could hardly wait.
Turning my gaze towards the back fence, I imagined six inch wide pink and white peony flower heads staring back at me like Raggedy Ann dolls. To the left of the peony bed, purple irises with black beards sitting sage-like atop tall stalks wavering in the gentle breezes. A sight to behold; such warm and inviting beauty in contrast to the ice field that presently is my back yard.
Triggered by the arrival of several seed catalogs, my mental state was rapidly evolving from acute cabin fever and mild despair to one of confidence that warmer and milder weather would soon arrive bringing with it renewed activity. Activity I was eagerly anticipating.
My spirits, like those sails of yore, were billowing knowing that in the near future, southerly winds would be aiding in distancing me from my winter doldrums.
Abruptly waking from my reverie, and with renewed vigor I easily returned to the task at hand; writing a story for my group’s meeting.