Pig in the Snow


A Repost of “Buy Indie, Borrow the Big Bestsellers” by Cynthia Reyes

Cynthia Reyes, a writer, blogger, and journalist from Canada, is someone I’ve featured in my blog several times. Most recently, she and her daughter have written the delightful Myrtle’s Game, featuring the delightful purple turtle as she deals with those who would exclude her.

Anyway, Buy Indie, Borrow the Big Bestsellers, her latest post on her blog, exactly captures my philosophy. Cynthia writes, “The way I see it, the bigtime authors will still get my support, via the public library.  Local libraries are among my favourite places on earth and librarians are stars. I borrow the famous books there….But Indie authors and presses need my money. ” And when Cynthia purchase books, they are usually from indie authors and presses.

Hear, hear! I, too, do my best to support indie writers, artists, and other creative types who earn money selling their creations. Readers, I know a lot of you do, too. However, Cynthia’s eloquent words remind us why it’s so important to buy from indie writers and artists.

This post, of course, falls squarely in the department of shameless self-promotion because not only am I an indie author and publisher, but also my book, Library Lost, is featured in Cynthia’s post.

Many thanks, Cynthia!



Once More to the Frozen Lake

Yesterday, on my way to pick up the Sunday paper, I decided to swing by the lake to see if the ice-fishing village had expanded.  It had.  And although the pictures don’t indicate this, it was actually quite lively on the ice, with people calling to each other and moving between shacks.

I think this little green shack looks especially fetching as it peeks through the branches.

And this shot gives an idea as to how close to shore some of them are.

While I was taking pictures, I heard the muffled roars of far-off snowmobiles, which, as someone who cares about the environment, I know I am not supposed to like. However, as a Mainer who rode on snowmobiles when she was  young, I have a soft spot for them.

Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I had what is now referred to as a “free-range childhood.” When I was eight, we moved to the rural town of North Vassalboro, and I was allowed to roam the fields and woods as I wanted.

This was not unusual back then. My friends had the same freedom, and somehow we set reasonable limits on ourselves, with our range being about a mile’s radius from where we lived.

We climbed trees, we rode ponies, we picked strawberries in backfields, and in the winter, as we got older, we rode snowmobiles. My parents had a little Arctic Cat with a pull starter that was easy for me to use. And off I went, sometimes by myself, sometimes with my friends, buzzing around the countryside but again, never straying much farther than a mile so so from home. Not exactly good for the environment, but oh so much fun as the sharp air hit our faces when we went up hill, down hill, and through the woods. Then back to a warm house for hot chocolate and cookies.

Funny how a trip to a frozen lake will bring back memories.

Life Running in a Different Direction

“Life ran back and forth, land into people and people back into land, until both were the same.”  –Lura Beam, A Maine Hamlet

Last Sunday, we had very cold weather and eight inches of snow, both standard for Maine in January. Then yesterday, the temperature shot up to 49° Fahrenheit, and the rain came bucketing down, rapping against the windows, slanting into our faces, soaking our coats as we did errands.

Before we left to do errands, Clif threw sunflower seeds on the snow for the ground feeders, which are often birds but in this case were squirrels.

Then the wind came, fortunately not strong enough to knock out our power but strong enough to make it difficult to open our car doors as we went to the various stores.

Last night the rain stopped, the temperature dropped to freezing, and this is what we woke up to.

First, the good. Our front steps are completely clear of ice and snow, no small thing in our shady yard.

Second, the not so good. Our driveway is glare ice.

As are the walkways to and in the backyard.

And the snowbanks are as hard, dirty, and ugly as they are in March. Except this is January.

I started this post with a quotation from the remarkable Lura Beam, a Maine native, writer, educator, and researcher. According to Wikepedia, “Her interests included the poor, minorities, women, education, and the arts. She co-authored two books discussing medical studies on sex adjustment and sex education with Robert Latou Dickinson, and a noted memoir of growing up in turn-of-the-century Marshfield, Maine. She was the long-time companion of Louise Stevens Bryant.

Lura Beam is perhaps best known for her “noted memoir,” A Maine Hamlet. The opening quotation comes from that book, and I was much struck by it.

Like Lura Beam, Clif and I are also Maine natives, going at least five generations back for both of us. We belong to Maine. It is a part of us, and we are a part of it. For most our lives, we knew the rhythms of Maine and moved knowingly through the seasons—the brilliant cold of winter; reluctant spring, which burst in a frenzy of blossoms upon us in May; beautiful summers, not too hot, not too rainy, just right; and the glory of fall, so bright and beautiful with its explosion of yellow, red, and orange leaves.

But now, with climate change, it hardly seems as if we know Maine at all. Summers so hot that we can barely stand it? September being an extension of August? Rain and 49° in January? In what universe? In this one, it seems.

We must adapt. We have no choice. But for Clif and me, two old Mainers, it is very disconcerting.



A Jolly Good Storm

Not long ago, on BBC News, I heard a reporter state that President Trump had had “a jolly good rant.” That certainly was one way of putting it.

“Jolly good” has stuck with me, and Clif and I now use it to describe various things, such as my kitchen after I am done cooking—a jolly good mess—to yesterday’s first big storm of the season. Hence the title of this piece.

This particular storm—named Harper, I believe—swept across the country from the West to the Midwest. Harper then headed to the Northeast, leaving lots of snow and ice, delaying flights, and bringing the usual mayhem that such a storm delivers.

The predictions for central Maine were dire: up to eighteen inches of snow, followed by wind and freezing rain. As I’ve noted before,  Mainers dread hearing the words “freezing rain,” which can cause power outages, sometimes for a week or more.  We can take the snow, but oh do we hate to lose our power, especially when it’s very cold, as it was yesterday and continues to be so today.

Back in the day, in the 1960s and 1970s, when I was young, ice storms were very uncommon in Maine. I can remember one, when I was eleven or twelve, and I was so enchanted by the sparkling branches that I rode on my snowmobile and took pictures of what looked like a fairyland to me. (I’ve always had a fanciful mind.) If we lost our power, it didn’t make an impression on me, so it couldn’t have been for very long, if indeed we lost it at all.

How different from today, where every storm in the winter brings the potential of freezing rain. Fortunately, most times there’s just a thin glaze of ice, but still, we hate and fear freezing rain.

I am happy to report that while Storm Harper brought sleet, which ticked against our windows, he did not bring freezing rain. Also, we only got eight inches of snow, well below the predicted amount of eighteen inches. I know this is bragging, but for most Mainers, eight inches of snow is nothing to worry about, especially if there isn’t freezing rain.

So all in all, it was indeed a jolly good storm.

Still, there was clean-up to be done. Even with only eight inches of snow, getting out the front door was not easy.

Our shovel, which we keep handy,  was tucked in the snow, as were our blue buckets of sand and salt..

Once outside on the deck, I could survey our winter wonderland.

Finally, here is Clif with Little Green.

Today, we have a bit more cleaning to do. A couple of inches of snow fell last night, and as it always does, the town’s snowplow has left a ridge of snow at the end of the driveway.

Winter is definitely here.

Another Treat in the Mail: Myrtle’s Game by Cynthia Reyes and Lauren Reyes-Grange

This has been quite a week for receiving packages from afar. On Monday, a box of oranges and lemons came from my blogging friend Betsy. Today, it was a book—Myrtle’s Game by the mother and daughter team Cynthia Reyes and Lauren Reyes-Grange. Myrtle’s Game was sent all the way from Canada by the author herself. Oh, the wonderful world of blogging!

Myrtle’s Game, the sequel to Myrtle the Purple Turtle, is a bold, vibrant picture book featuring the irrepressible Myrtle and her friends. The story opens with them playing water soccer. They are, after all, turtles.  But then the turtles notice other woodland animals playing soccer on land.  When they ask to be included, Myrtle and her friends are snubbed. They are told that because they are turtles, they are too slow for playing the game on land.

While their feelings might be hurt, Myrtle and her friends are not discouraged, and they come up with a way to be included in the game. Most young readers will have had experiences similar to Myrtle and her friends. Because of this, children will be able to identify with the turtles and admire their persistence. By the end of the story, a lesson is learned, and it is a good one.

Jo Robinson’s vivid illustrations are both energetic and friendly, exactly right for young readers.

Along with the book, Cynthia sent me a magnet, which is now on my refrigerator.

What better words for these times, when some “shells” are considered better than others?

Vive la différence!


A blog about nature, home, community, books, writing, the environment, food, and rural life.