This January has been warmer than average. However, cold weather from the Arctic is forecasted to blast us this weekend, with a projected temperature as low as -20°F (-28°C). With the windchill factor, it might even drop to -40°F. That, my friends, is cold even by Maine standards.
Good thing, then, that we got a proper snow storm last week. Otherwise, my perennials would be in serious trouble when the cold snap hits. There’s no telling how many plants I would lose. As it is, they are covered by a nice insulating blanket of snow, at least ten inches.
Here are some pictures of our yard during the storm. My beds and the perennials are tucked under the snow.
I like the way the snow-covered fence ripples with snow.
As I shoveled the pathways to the compost bins and the bird feeders, I stopped to take a picture from backyard to front yard. No hanging laundry until spring.
Little Gideon, the guardian of our yard, is nearly buried beneath the snow.
The lantern out front has a cap.
And the snow on the porch rail curves like a wave of water.
Another picture of our home nestled in the snow.
With so much snow, Clif had to clean the roof. Otherwise ice dams form on the eaves, and this in turn leads to leaks inside. I took this shot through an open window, which is why everything is at a slant.
Today I received this lovely card from blogging friend Jodie Richeal. If you have time, do check out her snappy website, Poppiwinkle, that features her work. Jodie wrote to tell me how much she was enjoying my recent book Of Time and Magic. Do I spy William Shakespeare on the lower right-hand side of the card? I believe I do. Many thanks, Jodie!
Reading: Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Spoiler Alert: I can’t discuss this book without revealing crucial elements in the plot. If you haven’t read the book and would rather not have spoilers, now is the time to stop reading.
Lolly Willowes, published in 1926, is a novel full of oddities and curiosities. The first half of the book is realistic to the point of almost being dry. The second half crackles with the supernatural.
The novel is about Laura Willowes, who was brought up on a country estate in Wales. When Lolly Willowes opens, Laura’s father has just died—her mother died years earlier—and it’s decided that twenty-eight-year-old “Aunt Lolly” should move to London with one of her brothers, his wife, and their children, Fancy and Marion. In the London Home, Laura is given the smallest spare bedroom as the larger one can’t be spared. This decision sets the tone for how Laura is treated, not cruelly, but as an afterthought, to be put up with rather than cherished.
And so it goes for twenty years with Laura trotting unobtrusively through domestic life with her brother’s family. Fancy, as an adult, wonders why her Aunt Lolly didn’t set up housekeeping by herself. After all, when her father died, she was left with a comfortable income. Fancy concludes, “How unenterprising women were in the old days.”
What holds Laura back? The traditions and conservatism of her family, which she accepts without question. It will take something very big to knock Laura off track.
In short, it takes demonic intervention. First, the devil, an invisible force, leads Laura into a small shop with homely items that remind her of life in the country and how much she longs for that life. This longing tips something in Laura, and against her family’s wishes, she up sticks to the countryside, to a small village filled with witches who don’t seem to do much. Mostly they roam at night and tend to village business by day.
All goes well until Laura’s nephew, Titus, visits her and decides to settle in with his aunt. Once again, Laura must put the needs of her family first. The freedom she longs for is gone.
It is then the devil really comes into it. Laura makes a pact with him—she will serve him if he keeps family away. This the devil does in a way that is more humorous than menacing. Soon Titus is gone, and Laura is free to be herself. The devil, having made his conquest, leaves her alone.
After finishing the book, I puzzled over the ending. Did Warner believe that in 1926 women could only be free if they shucked family ties and made a deal—symbolically, of course—with the devil?
Laura had the financial means to be independent. But it seems she did not have the emotional means to break away and could only do so with supernatural help.
This slim book certainly made me think about the role of women.