January’s Snow Story

Because Monday was a holiday—Martin Luther King Jr. Day—I took the day off, which is why this week’s piece is being posted on Tuesday.

There has been little snow in Maine so far this year, but we do have enough to tell a story of January, of arrival and waiting.

There are the footprints made by the boy next door, who came over with a charming handwritten note to thank us for the presents we gave him for Christmas.

Then there is a sense of waiting…the shovel and the buckets of sand and salt on the porch.

Minerva, nestled in leaves and covered by a snow blanket.

The herbs drooping in my little garden. The oregano will come roaring back, I know, but I’m not so sure about the sage. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

A few dried leaves in the driveway, which will eventually get blown into the woods to become part of the leaf carpet in the woods.

I like this time of cold and waiting, of tidying up and resting after the holidays. The days are still short, and as the darkness comes, I make a cup of tea and settle on the couch, where I read and watch the night come. By 5:00 o’clock the sky is dark, and it’s time to pull the shades. Often there is some kind of bean soup simmering in the slow cooker, a warm hearty meal for a chilly winter’s night.



I discovered the British writer Andrew Taylor in a roundabout way. In a recent issue of The New Yorker, Jill Lepore wrote a wonderful profile of Mick Herron, of Slow Horses fame. In the profile, Lepore describes how she tags along with Mick Herron, Andrew Taylor, and crime writer Sarah Hilary as they read from their work at a local bookstore. Because I am such a fan of Mick Herron, I decided to give Hilary and Taylor a try.

I started with Hilary and her Someone Else’s Skin but gave up after only twenty pages or so. Far too grisly for me.

Then I turned to Andrew Taylor and The Ashes of London, a historical novel set in London in 1666, the time of the Great Fire.

That was in December, and I was smitten by Taylor’s writing—the vivid sense of place and his two protagonists—grumpy but good- hearted James Marwood as well as the feisty and appropriately named Cat Lovett. The Ashes of London is filled with political intrigue. There is murder most foul. There is sex and violence, but Taylor handles it just right.

Lucky for me there are six books that feature Marwood and Lovett.Β  I have raced through The Fire Court, The King’s Evil, and The Last Protector. There is more political intrigue as Marwood becomes embroiled in King Charles’s business. There is also more murder most foul, but there is a forward momentum to the books that saves them all from being the same.

I particularly like Taylor’s depiction of Cat Lovett, his sympathetic portrayal of a woman who is of her time but who strains against its strictures in her desire to become an architect.

Book five, The Royal Secret, is on its way via interlibrary loan.

I can’t wait!




63 thoughts on “January’s Snow Story”

  1. January’s darkness and finals days of awakening into the growing light of late winter is a special time. Enjoy this month’s slumber, renewal and rebirth.

    Thanks for the book review too, Laurie.

  2. I think this is a special time of year, too. And I like your approach to it. It’s in the 50s and raining here, but it still feels peaceful. And thanks for the Andrew Taylor tip. Sounds like something I would like and I will look him up.

  3. Good old dependable oregano; it puts up with all manner of bad treatment in my garden (where the herb garden seems to always be the one I “put off for another day”) but is back with a vengeance in Spring. There’s nothing like the joy of discovering a new author – especially one with a series!

  4. Ditto on loving the quiet days of January. After the busyness of December, it is nice to have little on the calendar. I’m passing on your Andrew Taylor recommendation to my spouse, sounds right up his alley.

  5. I haven’t been savoring these January days as much as I normally do. Just this morning, I thought January this year has not been doing what January does best. Too many gray, gloomy days and not much bright, unfiltered light. It made me resolve to seek out that bright light when it happens, and to set aside an hour each day to read by the window with the afternoon light. I enjoyed your post.

  6. So you didn’t get inches of ice pellets or freezing rain yesterday, Laurie? We got 3” of ice pellets and no snow or freezing rain. It’s sitting there like 3” of cement! Probably better to enjoy the lack of the usual amount of snow and keep your fingers crossed!

      1. Thanks for the book recommendation. I will order if for my sister in law who loves mysteries and history. Crazy weather! You without your usual snowfall and me so happy with the heavy rain from our atmospheric river because selfishly I am safe from flooding and also I do not have to go out and about and navigate through all the water. I enjoy seeing how organized you are for more snowfall and hot tea and the discovery of a good author are treasured moments.

      2. We have learned the hard way what happens when we are not organized for winter. πŸ˜‰ I’m sure the rain is much appreciated even though the flooding is not.

  7. This is such a lovely time of year for reading and contemplation, bean soup and cosy evenings by the stove Laurie. Wishing you a blessed time relaxing too πŸ’œ

  8. Lovely post. What a cutie Minerva is! πŸ˜‰ Last year I planted oregano for the first time, but I cluelessly thought it was an annual just as basil is, so I pulled it up after I picked the leaves! Live and learn….

  9. A lovely post Laurie. It gives all the good feels of a cozy winter. I was a bit overwhelmed by the holidays, but will now get back into my best love of reading again and your “Of Time and Magic” is first on my list. xo

    1. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the holidays. I love them, but I am always exhausted when they are over. This is why I love January so much. A time to rest and recover. Hope you enjoy “Of Time and Magic.”

  10. It’s so exciting when a series captures our interest and imagination, isn’t it?! This is a great time to spend our noses in good books, while it’s cold outside and we wait for more snow to fall. ❄❄❄

  11. We are having another very cold few days and wintry showers and, like you, I am cwtched in enjoying hearty food and doing ‘not a lot’. I hadn’t realised you had a public holiday for Martin Luther King – curious how different countries approach such things and who they think deserves one. ( I do not doubt that he should have one by the way) Thank you for the book recommendatiuons.

  12. I love the idea of reading in the afternoon until the sun goes down. I read more in winter too. I think Paul would enjoy the writer Andrew Taylor .. he enjoys Mick Herron and he’s reading his way through the Slow Horses series. He also very much enjoys books written by Robert Harris… have you read any of his?

  13. You’d already tipped me off about Taylor, so many thanks for providing a bit more information here. The Great Fire of London, coming close on the heels of the Great Plague, is such an interesting backdrop for a decent writer of historical fiction, so I must definitely look out for this series.

    1. We did get some sleet along with snow, but fortunately we did not get 3 inches of ice pellets. One of the benefits of living inland. I imagine it was quite a mess.

  14. Even here, in the land of almost-always-no-snow, January feels like a pause: a time for reflection, and allowing the fallow earth to be our model. Of course, part of the emptiness I love is the sudden absence of boat-owners in the marinas. It’s a lovely way to work, with only the birds for companions.

  15. We have no snow — only rain. And lots of that. Our skies are dreary and the temps are chilly, meaning that bowl of bean soup and cup of hot tea sound just about right!

  16. Glad you picked up on *The Good, Good Pig* the other day. I got my husband a Sy Montgomery’s book on an octopus. It’s a hit. She makes everything fascinating!

  17. Enjoyed the snow story and winter scenes!πŸ™‚ Winter still has not arrived here and it looks like it’s not going to show up at all in January. Another day of rain today and even though I’m adjusting, I’m having a difficult time remembering it’s January and not March. Thanks for the recommendations, I’ve added both authors to my list.πŸ“–πŸ™‚

  18. A belated new year’s greeting and wish for a year filled with good health, writing overflowing and lots of time with friends & family!

    I love the images & thoughts about waiting on & in the snow. As you know, I vicariously live through you in this season as I miss the dark evenings & curling up to cold weather rituals (it has been far too long since we’ve celebrated the winter in London).

  19. Out of interest I looked at ‘Ashes of London’ on Amazon(UK) and found that it is, at the moment, available to read for free if you are a Prime member. I’ll see if I become addicted enough to continue the series.

  20. It looks as if we’ve had almost as much snow as you have so far this year. Have you read Susanna Clarke’s Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell? You reminded me of it by mentioning two different characters.

    1. We’ve had two storms since that post so now it actually looks like winter in Maine. I have read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and loved it. Ditto for Piranesi.

  21. We are back to rainy setting. There were beautiful snowy days but I was so busy with unavoidable that I didn’t take a picture. Now I miss it πŸ˜€. Human nature, I guess.

      1. Thanks for asking. It’s quite tiring. I was on lamp(s) hunting mission that too after being full day at work. It’s coming along πŸ˜€

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