This Winter Night

A night not fit for man nor beast, yet

The dog dances at the door,

Her nightly routine

Unaffected by the cold.

I open the door—

Out she goes!

I hesitate, reluctant to leave

The cozy warmth of the living room.

I step onto the deck, and my eyes follow

Raven zigzagging

Through the yard,

Her black form conspicuous

Against the snow-covered ground.

Old North Wind rushes in,

Scattering fallen snow like fairy dust

Across frozen fields.

Swirls of snowflakes sparkle diamondlike

In the porch light’s glow.

My eyes drift heavenward

To the cloudless sky alight with stars.

Orion stands sentinel

In the western sky, the Milky Way

A mantle cascading across his shoulders;

Even the hunter

Seeks warmth on this winter night.

A lone owl hoots

From some distant tree,

And I bid him well, knowing his prey

Likely eludes him in this cold.

Taking a cue from Orion,

I draw my own coat closer and call for the dog.

My whistle shatters the icy silence;

Raven ceases sniffing

And turns,

Her paws crunching across crusted snow.

She bounds up the steps,

And I open the door—

In she goes!

I pause, reluctant to leave

The frozen beauty of this night.

North Wind rushes in once more, and I shiver in surrender.

Orion winks wordlessly

As I bid him farewell and retreat inside.

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An Unexpected Valentine

~ This is a work in progress, something that may be a short story, may be a novella, or may be a novel; I’ve no idea yet. Just having fun with it and seeing where it leads.

Annie Billow sat at her desk, surrounded by the new acquisitions she was cataloguing for the library. The task was taking longer than it normally would, not that she either noticed or minded, because she couldn’t refrain from reading the back cover blurbs and skimming through the first few pages of each book she picked up. She was about three-quarters of the way through the stack when she picked up a copy of the latest shape-shifter novel by one of the more popular Young Adult authors. She eagerly read the synopsis and then turned the book over to gaze dreamily at the artwork on the front cover. Her lips curved into a smile as she ran her fingers over the velvety matte cover and envisioned herself as the tall, beautiful heroine who would have some epic romantic adventure with the handsome, morose were-man whose brooding emerald eyes stared out from the cover. She let out a sigh and was just about to open to the first chapter when a deep male voice interrupted her reverie. “Hi, Annie.”

          She gasped and fumbled the book, at first thinking the man on the cover had spoken; then her head snapped up and she blinked rapidly a few times. A flush crept up her neck and into her cheeks at being caught with a Young Adult book in her hands, even if Brock Cavanaugh was the one who had caught her. She didn’t know why she was embarrassed; she and Brock had grown up together, and he knew she could no more resist opening a book—any book—than a cat could resist an open can of tuna. [Even if he wasn’t a tall Alpha-wolf with bulging muscles, he was still achingly handsome with his short blond hair and gray-blue eyes. Not that that mattered to her anymore. She had long since given up her high school crush on Brock, completely satisfied—at least she told herself—with being his closest friend.] Suddenly realizing she hadn’t responded, and worse yet, that she was staring at him, she blurted out, “Brock, hi. Why aren’t you at work?”

Brock feigned offense before giving in to the easy laugh that was always on his lips. “What, can’t a guy take a lunch break?” He knew Annie well enough to know she hadn’t meant to be abrasive, just that she had gotten caught up in her work.

“Lunch?” Annie craned her neck to see the clock on the back wall. She was surprised to see that it was already past noon. “I must have lost track of time.” She turned back to him, a sheepish look on her face. “Was there something you needed?”

He gave her a cocky grin and leaned on the desk. “No, not since I was in this morning before work. I don’t devour books the way you do, Miss Bookworm.” She wrinkled her nose at him, trying not to giggle at his expression; no use encouraging him. “I just wondered if you’d like to grab some lunch with me.”

“Oh.” Annie thought about the banana and the cup of strawberry yogurt stashed in the break room refrigerator.

Reading her thoughts, Brock urged, “Oh, come on, Annie. You can have your yogurt during your afternoon break. Lunch is on me; come on.”

As much as she enjoyed hanging out with Brock, she really wanted to finish her task. She was about to make an excuse when Margie, the head librarian, who had overheard the whole conversation, chimed in. “For heaven’s sake, Annie, the books will still be here when you get back. Don’t turn down a free lunch, especially from a handsome young gentleman like Brock.”

Annie finally relented, and after grabbing her coat and purse from the back room, the two friends headed out the door. Outside in the frosty February sunshine, Annie wrapped her scarf more snugly around her neck, cursing her impulsive decision to cut her hair short last month.

One Writer’s Musings on Laura Ingalls Wilder

Today is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 148th birthday. Many of my Little-House-loving friends are celebrating this milestone in one way or another–re-reading her books, watching the television adaptation, donning sunbonnets (yes, even in the dead of winter when it’s 20 degrees and snowing), or enjoying a slice of birthday cake and a cup of tea in her honor.

Me, I’m observing her birthday by jotting down a few thoughts I had while browsing the various Facebook pages, blogs, and other websites dedicated to one of America’s most famous and most well-loved pioneer women.

I’m fascinated by readers’ fascination with Laura’s collected memories of her simple life. I’m sure that if she were alive today, she too would be fascinated and perhaps perplexed by the popularity of her stories. Could she have known as she penned those stories decades ago that they would be so loved by generations of children and adults? Did she have any idea how much people would enjoy reading her recollections of simple tasks such as cutting and stacking the hay, teaching a calf to drink, or butchering a pig? Did she ever think people would enjoy reading about her town job of piecing and hand-stitching shirts? Did she ever dream that her home would become a museum, or that conferences would be held to discuss her writing and her life?

From a writer’s perspective, the popularity of Laura’s works boggles my mind, not because her writing isn’t good, but because I highly doubt she ever intended it to be so far-reaching. I’m certain that her main goal in writing was to preserve her memories of her family’s move West, as well as her way of life, for her descendants. There may have been the hope of gaining some income from the books, but it was not her ambition to achieve the amount of fame that she did both during her lifetime and since her passing. She just told her story, and the rest was history.