winter’s hero

Tired and aching from shoveling the driveway, my heart sank as I heard the snow plow scraping down the road. I sighed, grabbed my toque, and went back out.

The plow had left a thick strip of the worst kind of snow, piled up to my knees. There was nothing to do but dig in.

Half-way through, muscles sore and weakening, I noticed a rusty, aged tractor making its slow way up the mountain. I waved hello, thinking I could use a tractor of my own, when it stopped, turned, and scooped up the rest of that nasty, heavy snow. The young fellow inside tipped his hat once and drove off up the mountain, his cape flapping in the wind.


adventure cold cross country skiing dawn
Photo by Pixabay on


on the cancellation of autumn

Late fall is my favorite time of year to explore the woods. No bugs, no dense vegetation to crush, the forest floor cold and crunchy. There’s a waterfall not far from home I like to bushwhack to once a year, after hunting season is over in late November.


On the mountain, it’s a season of startling beauty.


This year, late fall was cancelled. I have hopes it will return, but not big hopes. If it happens I’ll hike up to my waterfall and take some photos for you. Winter has beautiful views as well, I’m just not sure how I’ll handle two extra months of endless white. Three months in and I swear my eyes crave color the way my tummy craves chicken noodle soup. There’s nothing more to do but hermit inside with brightly colored books and yarns and write myself stories of green.


The eerie element to this early winter is the nagging question. Is this our new normal? We’ve had intense storms, usually reserved to February, several times in the past weeks. The old-timers shake their heads and say we’ve had storms and early winters like this before, and we have, just not all at once.

Most of my life I’ve heard about climate change, studied it in college and university, and somehow the reality isn’t what I expected. Rising sea levels? We’ll choose a house at an elevation. More snow, more intense storms? Haha, I’m a Maritimer, we ARE winter. And yet… maybe its being a mother, but I don’t remember storms scaring me speechless before. Power failures, snow, I can handle. The wind clawing like a rabid dragon to get inside my house? Okay, you got me. I mean, I have stories to write about it, sure, but scared. Scared isn’t a good feeling when you have two small people waiting for you to tell them they’re safe. I’m their mom. I have to make sure they feel safe, despite the tongue-sticking dryness in my mouth as I force myself to say what they need to hear in a cheery voice, the rest of my brain devoted to running worst-care-scenario plans and ignoring the heavy, awful feeling settling onto my chest.

I remind myself there are people in hurricane zones who are accustomed to much worse winds then we’ve been getting. Folks in the Arctic have winters longer than the six months we may be facing here. There are actual nightmares playing out in the world. Normal is relative, and change is hard for us humans, but fighting and denying it doesn’t make it any easier. It’s time to adapt.


the ghosts of old summers

The ghosts of old summers linger within the slumbering trees as they hold their naked vigil against the frigid length of winter. They haunt me from my window, whispering of a riot of green and a lullaby of peepers. Fireflies. Flowers. A slick of sweat above my lip. The scent of soil as I pull a carrot from the garden. The buzz of a bee. The shriek of cicada. The scurry of some small creature in the undergrowth.

A rush of bracing wind scatters my ghosts. The cold austerity of a winter morning holding fast. For now. But not for long.

memories of winter


The temperatures fell and the wind grew harsh. Trees shivered off their leaves, ready for their wintry slumber. Half-waking memories of thick, white blankets settling onto their boughs with a comforting weight returned. With them came dreams of doing things a rooted tree cannot: of traveling, hugging friends, and having dinner parties where the tables overflowed with bowls of liquid sunshine and pools of warmish water lapped at their feet.

how I confused the stork


The stork scratched his head with his trusty pencil and squinted at the birth announcement. He couldn’t figure it out, and he didn’t appreciate it. Baby delivering storks are somewhat endangered due to having little time to relax and lay eggs while they’re busy delivering countless babies in this over-populated world of ours. Every stork had to work, long, hard hours coming and going from the cabbage patch. They didn’t have time for tomfoolery.

His knock on my door sounded upset (and feathery). “What’s wrong?” I asked, as I opened the door.

He waved my birth announcement in the air. “What does this mean? You writers with your metaphors, choice of voice, and desire to be creative! Are you having a book or a baby?”

I could feel my eyes glaze over – a new book! My heart leapt at the idea. And with NaNoWriMo just around the corner…the baby launched a hard kick somewhere deep inside my swollen belly. “A baby, I’m sure of it. Early February.”

The stork made a few notes on the back of the picture. “February, eh? Interesting timing. Middle of winter and all that. Very inconvenient. I don’t like getting snow on my feathers, you know, makes them all clumpy.” He shook his head at my belly and flew off, his grumbles echoing through the night.


just a quick winter’s nap


Summer left them ragged, tattered, and tired. A flush crept into their cheeks, their eyelids growing bothersome and heavy. “It isn’t anything personal,” they say, their mumbles descending into snores, “a quick winter’s nap and I’ll be good as new.”

The rest of us smile and prepare for our leafless, snowy futures with mugs of hot drinks, stacks of worthy books, woolly mittens, and fuzzy slippers, knowing as we do a winter’s nap is anything but quick.

just an old worker bee


Frederik sensed the seasons changing. He knew he didn’t have much longer before the frosts came and the cooler temperatures brought an end to his life. If he found himself a new hive in time he might stand a chance, but he would have to leave his best friend.

The same best friend who offered him the shelter of her petals when his old hive cast him out. He was just another worker bee who got too old and too slow. The flower didn’t think so. She loved him, and she appreciated all the pollen he’d brought her over the summer. He didn’t know it, but she had saved her sweetest nectar for his daily visits.

She didn’t have much more than a month to go herself before the winter took over and scattered her seeds to the wind. He hugged her close. He would never leave.

the enchantment of the fireweed cloak


“Winter will arrive sooner than you know,” said the old queen with a sniff. “I have no desire to be cold. I hear you are the tailor of the warmest cloaks in all the land.”

The bespectacled little man nodded, too afraid to speak.

“I want your warmest cloak, and I want it tomorrow.”

“I’m afraid that isn’t possible, you grace. You see, my cloaks, they aren’t the usual kind. They’re bewitched by the elves who help me to make them. They will only be as warm as the wearer’s need, and you, my grace, have no need. ‘Tis best reserved for the poorest of peasants, for I am afraid you will freeze.” He cringed and waited to be hauled off to some dingy dungeon.

“Nonsense! You will make me a cloak at once. I command it.”

The little man nodded with sorrow and returned to his shop. With the help of his elves he collected the wool of fireweed seeds and washed it in dewdrops. They carded it on the back of an obliging porcupine, and had it spun by spiders in exchange for a cozy corner in the workshop over winter. As the little man slept the elves wove it into a lengthy cloak of shimmering snow.

“Fit for a queen, but made for a pauper.” With a heavy heart he delivered the cloak to the queen.

The lady commended its workmanship, admired the richness and the softness of the cloth, and paid him well for his efforts. Still he returned to his home with his head hanging low. It did the queen little good to admire her fancy cloak, come winter the conditions of the cloak’s enchantment would hold sway.

Sure enough, as winter snows began to blow, she shivered in her beautiful cloak, but her vanity would not allow her to wear another. There were fires to be warmed by, and spiced wine for drinking, after all. Until, of course, her carriage lost a wheel one dark, cold night, and she waited for rescue alone with her pride as the coachmen went ahead for help.

The bespectacled little man hung his head and cried as he heard that the queen had frozen to death in the night, and her sons now fought for her crown.

frost stories

As she slept, the cold whispered stories who painted themselves all over the windows of her home. When she rose the next morning, she stared at the images, certain that she knew them. She could almost retrieve the memory before the sun reached the window and burnt them all away, but not quite.


(images and words copyrighted by Jennifer Shelby)