March 1, 2009
Subtitle: How do survive a northern winter
Dear Family and Friends,
Out my windows I see the slanting of late winter's light. The shadows are deep and full of promise of sun and brightness. The gift of this day has been long in coming, although, being a northern girl, I have no complaints over the winter.
Winter came early one afternoon. The wind began to tumble across my old back porch and slam an old piece of board that I have hanging there. The board simple says Maggie's Chicken Coop. It is one of the last remnants I have of the farm days when the boys were young, when we were all young. The sign hung on my coop and thus was saved from the fire five years ago. When I hung it on the porch I did not know it would become the barometer for weather in this fine old house.
I am fortunate to have neighbors who take care of the snow removal. Actually I never see anyone remove snow here, unless the piles are so large in town that they obstruct traffic. It is rather just moved to a new location, that often being on top of small trees, bushes or the neighbor's bicycle.
The neighborhood children love these drifts, although one must drive precariously on these winter days watching out for them.
I have spent the last two months being totally involved in my small town. Writing about it. Walking the streets early in the morning, late at night. Talking to store owners. Providing opportunities for folks to pull in a bit of culture here and there.
My theatre company, The Spoken Word, finally incorporated this year. I am so lucky to have such a hard working board. So, with all the mechanics in place, it was decided (well, in October) that we have another show. (We took a hiatus last year.) I wanted to do a local piece because of the stress of the economy, because I believe in small towns, because I wanted to give tribute and give back to a community that supports my work. Thus, The Voice of Angola was born. It is a radio show about a radio show. I am not new to this. My friend, Bob Sander, and I have written shows to perform in Indy, I write weekly radio shows on Ocracoke so this should not be so difficult. Well, I was wrong. It was a totally consuming project for me and my co-writer, Erin White. We had much help from Steuben County Historical Society. Writing small skits is one thing, but a two hour show is much less. All the news are ads were taken from the historical archives and newspapers. Costumes, hair, mannerisms were all of the 1945 time period. We even had a lesson in smoking. (Who smokes nowadays??)
There was a cast of 30 including the University's Jazz Band, the mayor, other prominent figures in the community, actors in the town, and musicians. It has been the biggest project I have ever taken on and one of the most successful. My good friend and neighbor, Lee, often chides me in my enthusiasm and ideas, but he said that he will believe in me from now on!
We had almost sell out crowds each night and all the proceeds went to our local Historical Society for the preservation of oral history. (Does that sound like the old organization I USED to belong to? Code for just storyteller folks!)
On closing night, I was presented with yellow roses from my cast and crew. I could not believe it was over. This week has been spent listening to folks talk about the show and wondering when and what the next one will be???
All in a small town.
The rhythm of winter has also been quiet for me. I direct or teach or walk, but I come home to the humming of my winter's furnace and the solitude of living alone. I often think this part of my life will change, but it doesn't. So, I paint walls and woodwork, let cast members scrawl names across my memory wall, light candles, and write late at night under my red scarlet lamp. I keep my columns for the paper going without ever missing a deadline and find myself invited to many local events. Could that be because they think I will write about it/them??
I have become enamored with Venus this past week. She is dancing with the moon in the loveliest of dancers. She has been out all winter, but with the moon hidden most of this past week, she has become bright and beautiful like a shining diamond. I wrote my entire column on the beauty of Venus this week with the headline Beauty of Venus shines as the goddess of love. The really interesting part is that it was published next to Bill O'Reilly's column. Life is very sweet.
I could chat with you for hours. Thank you so much to those folks who wrote and called about this column....we miss it. Thank you for missing it.
The shadows are lighter now and the birds are beginning to fill my small yard here at White Picket Gardens. I have spent more money on bird food this winter than my own food, I daresay. The cardinals have been stunning against the snow and I have had many varieties of woodpeckers.
And that is the news from my small town.
Tonight watch for Venus, watch for Venus with someone you love. Go out into the darkness just at sunset and her beauty will astound you.
Love to all,