Snow Moon and Snowdrops: Harbingers of Spring

Mar 04, 2021 by Alice C. Early
the Snow Moon 2021 Photo: Paul F. Doherty

January 1, I sat with the neglected and fragmented manuscript for my second novel Posthumous, aghast at what a stranger it had become. With most of my energies in 2019 and 2020 devoted to finding an agent and publisher for THE MOON ALWAYS RISING, then planning and executing (ha!) the launch, I barely touched this rapidly calcifying work. The characters, once schemers and chatterboxes in my brain, had gone silent. I feared they’d left me for good. The project was moribund.

Not a maker of New Years’ resolutions because I violate them by January 5, I vowed anyway to check in with POSTHUMOUS every day, even if I didn’t actually write. It took a while to coax those characters out of hiding and to figure out where the hell I was going when I left off. Day after day of visiting that writing space in my brain made the hinges on its door easier to move. Eventually, I felt at home again in my writer core. I’ve made steady if slow progress creating new scenes, solving plot conundrums, and figuring out what makes these complicated characters tick.

I’ve set myself some tough challenges with POSTHUMOUS. The structure is complex--a book within a book, two disparate points of view, layers of secrets the characters keep from each other and the world. In this story set in 2017, my male protagonist is the poster child of #MeToo nastiness just at the outbreak of the movement. My female protagonist is a poet. Trying to make him credible and a tad sympathetic (I actually love him even though he’s a pig) is one mountain to scale. Trying to write poetry from her point of view is quite another.

To help with the second, I took a week-long poetry workshop (virtual of course) sponsored by our local literary arts center. While it didn’t answer my “impostor” question of whether or not anything I’m writing in my own or my character’s voice is an actual poem, it opened new space in my brain’s creative room. It gave me permission to experiment and play with words as my character would have done. Eventually readers will decide whether I am any kind of poet. Had I fled south, I would never have taken that course and gained the insights and courage it offered.

The winter loomed like a frigid tunnel when we started into it. It’s actually gone more like a luge run for me. I can barely believe we’ve already made it through February. Warmer days and rain stripped away our snow and brought mud. A few days ago, the snowdrops hugging the sheltered wall of my husband’s furniture workshop popped open. I’ve never seen them bloom because we’re always away. Early daffodils have poked up an inch. I’m anticipating the arrival of the crocuses I planted years ago and whatever else nature chooses to display as winter lets go and spring takes hold. The full Snow Moon, the last full moon of “official” winter, made her stunning appearance. A redwing blackbird scout has arrived to choose a prime nesting spot.

As I look back over these cocoon weeks, made all the more isolated by COVID restrictions, I appreciate what winter is for. Much as I’ve missed the Caribbean, jetting away from the cold and returning when the days are lengthening and buds are swelling has its tradeoffs. For me, the silver lining of our pandemic winter has been a flowering of creativity and the quiet time to tend it. I’m grateful for these contemplative weeks.

But, I’m ready for spring.

Be well, stay safe, and protect yourself and everyone else.