Monday, October 12, 2009

Black Frost

Cricket McRae
Actually, the frost is white, but it blackens all but the most cold hardy plants. The leaves on the cottonwoods haven't even turned yellow yet, but we've already had snow and temperatures cold enough to delay the Rockies/Phillies playoff series by a day.

The change was somewhat abrupt, but that's the way things go in Colorado. Learn to roll with it, or move.

So green tomatoes are piled in bowls and stacked in baskets to ripen. Beets, potatoes, carrots and leeks hide in the root cellar and braided onions hang in the basement pantry next to jars of pickles and dried herbs and honey. Below them rows of acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash await on shelves. Pots of parsley, rosemary, basil and thyme march down the window sill, adjusting to their sudden move indoors. The big freezer in the garage overflows with beans, broccoli, corn, peppers, chard, tomatoes -- and an eighth of a Charolais cow.

Soup's on the stove. Bread's rising. Deer are pawing through the thin crust of snow in the front yard to get at the fallen apples.

And the urge to write rides under my skin, a constant itch.

Sometimes writing is fun. Sometimes it's a job. You have to show up and do it, and if your muse deigns to ride along, all the better. But there is something about this time of year that affects my creativity in a primitive, visceral way.

In The Midnight Disease, Alice Flaherty examines writing mania. This time of year I feel I've caught hypergraphia like some kind of yearly flu.

Chunks of time are like candy. I play with ideas, wallow in words. In Sue Ann's post last week she related how this intense love of writing stays with her, drives her. It is not always the case for me. Oh, I love it all right, but it does not always sound this siren song.

I wonder what it is about this time of year that hits me so squarely in the creative plexus. Could it be related to all those years of facing back-to-school time? The feeling is familiar. Or perhaps it is an offshoot of my uber-nesting, the stocking up for cold weather. I do, after all, write about colonial home crafts. One activity is bound to feed the other. I can only hope that the stockpile of ideas and projects will get me through the winter.

Does this time of year affect your creativity? Your writing output?


Lisa Bork said...

Cricket, after reading your post, all I can think about is food.

But this time of year I can get back to writing because the kids are in school and I'm alone with my ideas for stories.

Of course, it's a good time to bake pumpkin cookies, too.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I'm like Lisa--the kids are back at school and it's time to buckle down. Great post.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Unknown said...
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Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Cricket - This is one of the most beautifully written posts I've ever read. It makes me want to curl up in a corner of your warm, comfy kitchen and purr.

"And the urge to write rides under my skin, a constant itch." This phrase alone is worth a bushel of golden apples.

And in response to your question: Yes, I find myself even more itching to write this time of year. Maybe it's my New England roots, or perhaps the years of going back to school in the fall. I don't know. But I don't fight the urge to flee my computer as much in the fall.

Alan Orloff said...

I think of the fall as a time of new beginnings. Summer--relaxation, vacation, contemplation--is over and it's time to buckle down, just like all those Septembers as a kid, starting a new school year.

Plus, as Lisa and Elizabeth said, the kids are back in school and the house is quiet.

Cricket McRae said...

Fall also strikes me as a beginning rather than an ending, full of potential. I remember always feeling hopeful as the new school year started. And for those with children, it's definitely a bonus to get those hours back during the day, eh?

Sue Ann, you're welcome to come curl up in my kitchen any time you want. ; - )

Jessica Lourey said...

I, too, feel the urge to write amped up this time of year. Now, however, after reading your post, I have too much guilt about not getting my garden in before the first snowfall. I think there's still time to dig up the potatoes, though. And your house? Much too clean. Lower the bar, please. ;P

Unknown said...

As soon as the kids head to school my creativity kicks into overdrive. I think it is a combination of the back to school mindset and the need to find things to do in a nice, warm house. Whatever it is that causes the boost I "ride the wave" as far as possible!

Cricket McRae said...

Nasty weather is a definite plus for inside activities, Janel. Writing more than cleaning -- one relatively uncluttered surface does not a clean house make, Jess. ; - >

G.M. Malliet said...

What a beautiful post!