As winter deepened, Mom’s bad moods got worse. I didn’t want to come home from school. Every time I walked inside the front door on days that Randy and I didn’t have Centerstream, there was something in the way the low winter sun fell through the big wide living-room window and onto the wall across the room, across from the front door. Something about the way the light fell on that off-white wall that I saw as soon as I opened the door made me feel sick to my stomach, like it reminded me of something bad I couldn’t quite remember. It made me feel haunted.
I felt so unsettled as I ate my afternoon snack each day, then went upstairs to play Barbies murder mysteries and write my little “books.” I was amassing a collection by then, a handful of stories that were about twenty pages each handwritten. I wasn’t really happy with any of them; I always felt they couldn’t quite capture the darkness of my soul. So I kept writing more.
Early that winter, I went on my first overnight Girl Scout camping trip. My mom was working more at the newspaper, so for once, she wasn’t one of the troop leaders. We arrived at a big cabin called Hammond House. The walls were the color of wood and little cots lined the walls. The cabin was a long rectangle. One of the girls had recently learned the “Light as a Feather” game and we played it incessantly. One girl would lie in the middle and we would all surround her, purring two fingers from each hand under her. The person at the head gave a fake eulogy and then we all intoned, “Dead as a doornail, stiff as a board, light as a feather” over and over slowly lifting the scout in the middle up off the floor and up, up, over our heads. There were a lot of us, girls and girls and girls lifting, and it felt magic. We even did it on our troop leaders. I only got to be in the middle once.
I’ve actually been dying to blog about this but wanted to get some other things out of the way first. Like revamping it and updating it, for instance.
A few years ago, I wrote this post about my favorite winter memory, the second winter I spent living in the dispensary, a perfect cabin at Camp Orkila and how blissful that winter was, reveling in my connectedness to the natural world. I sometimes feel there aren’t words for how satisfying in a soul way living there was to me. And it wasn’t just the proximity to the ocean, the way I heard the owls and the creaking of cedar trees at night, or the thick woods I could walk through or even the months I lived there while having very little work, or all the great books I read, or the great company I had in my friend Tracy, or the walks by the coast.
So, it’s Christmas Eve and I’m awake and wired and have absolutely nothing to do.
It’s been snowing like crazy for the last week and a half. When it started I was in Seattle at a Christmas party with friends, and the next morning we couldn’t get through the road. The next day I came back to Orcas and had a semi (but not terribly exciting)-adventure returning. And then it snowed and snowed and snowed some more. It’s the most snow I’ve seen in the northwest, and it’s my sixth winter here. It’s wild, and awesome.
I’m loving it. It makes me want to go make snow angels and snowmen and build forts and have wild snowball fights. The roads are a mess, I mean solid ice covered in inches of snow. Walking anywhere that’s not a trodden path or shoveled walkway is deliriously fun, I sink in halfway up to my knees.
Alluding to Field of Dreams there, if that wasn’t already obvious.
I actually meant to write this post before my trip to Hawaii, but didn’t have enough time, and this post definitely would have been more timely if I had.
So, maybe because I’m a writer, I believe in the power of written words, but not necessarily in the typical way, like that people can read something and be affected by it. Yeah, that’s a huge thing, but I also think there’s a much more invisible power, something ethereal and unseen, subtle.
A few winters ago, I lived with my friend Tracy in a house at camp, and I’ve probably written about this winter before, and I’m sure I will write about it a million more times because I was so freakin’ happy that winter.
The house at camp where I lived (called The Dispensary because in the summer, the medical staff lived there) looked like a cabin, with wood walls and this real “old” feeling to it, like living there was actually a time warp, in a nice way, back to something ancient, even though we did have modern conveniences there. I also loved the lights, they had a soft glow that on the wood walls just somehow reminded me of something primal. It actually had a feel that brought to mind my grandmother’s house, probably the only other house I’ve loved as much as I love the Dispensary. Something about that house was just like IV nutrition for my soul.