Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Favorite Season

Whenever we have these weather topics on The Novel Girls, I’m always the odd one out! Yes, living in Arizona I have a weird backwards concept of winter and summer. I know this for sure because somewhere, way back in the deep part of my mind, I remember what real winters are like; I remember those bone-chillingly cold and icy walks around campus in college, where I was bundled up so tightly in my thick parka that you could barely see my eyes. I remember these things. But only faintly. Because now I love winters. I live for winters. On June days when it’s 110 degrees and we’re stuck inside the house, I fantasize about beautiful December days when we get to run around the park and take walks outside. These are my winter activities: outdoor things. Parks. Zoos. Power walks.

Lately, though, we’ve had a lot of rain, and even some colder weather (Ok, I know 40 isn’t cold to most of the rest of the world, but to me, it feels cold). It puts a damper on my outside exercise and my kids’ time at the park. And this makes me mad. I don’t live through the hideously hot summers for temperatures that barely hit the 50s, and rainy days.

But I can’t complain too much, as most days in the winter we still get our choice of outside activities, and not the kind where you have to wear a heavy coat and ski boots either. The kind where you wear short sleeves and maybe a sweatshirt – the kind where you bask in the beautiful sunny afternoon and marvel at how gorgeous the winter is in the desert. And then we get to call our friends and relatives on the east coast and brag about said activities. (Of course, they get us back in July!)

Aside from the weather, these past two winters I’ve had books come out, which means my activities have been nearly all book/promotion related. The launch of a book feels like a season in itself, one filled with excitement and joy and, sometimes, anxiety. But lucky for me, I can, whenever I need to re-charge, go and take a nice relaxing walk in the sunshine. And that’s a winter activity I wouldn’t trade for the world!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is Shoveling Your Car Out of the Snow Considered a Winter Activity?

To be honest, I can't say that I know all that much about many "winter activities" but there is one that I know about with absolute certainty. You can't bury somebody up North in the wintertime.

If you happen to be as uninformed as I was of this mind-blowing fact, please, please stand up. BTW, the italicized statement in the first paragraph also happens to be the first line of my novel, Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter - set in snowy Vermont where the daily highs are oftentimes sub-zero for weeks and weeks at a time. I remember living there in January and the temp never made it past -25 every morning at 9:00 am when I took my boys to school. I had no earthly idea that Vermonters don't bury their dead in the winter. It never once crossed my mind. But they don't. The Vermonters keep their dead in a mausoleum until what they call, "The Thaw". Then they get buried. Then their families have to grieve all over again. That's, that's . . . well, that's just not for me.

Winter activities, winter activities, come now Lisa there must be something that pops into your mind! Honestly, I can't think of any southern winter activities but there are so many that take place in Vermont. Vermonters ice skate on ponds (not that I would ever consider doing that), they ski, they snowshoe, they even ice-fish. They also shovel alleys of snow around their cars so the snow plow can get the car out - an activity that takes Leelee Satterfield, the heroine of my book and a transplanted Southerner, five hours to complete. They use snow blowers to clear their walkways and get this - roof rakes to clean their roofs.

If any of these pastimes seem seem like they might take an extended adjustment period to get used to, you're not alone. Leelee Satterfield never got the hang of any of them. Here in the South, winter activities are more like winter blah-tivities. We don't really do all that much in January except hope for days like last Saturday when it was 60 something. Today it's back down to 30 something and the biting wind is ridiculous.

I do love a fire in the winter. Not that that's an activity or anything, but I love to sit next to one. As a matter of fact, I'm sitting next to a nice one right now at the Brentwood Library while writing my sequel to Dixie and I better get back to it if I'm going to remain a Novel Girl.

What's my cure for the winter blahs. I say take off and head to the beach! I'll be doing just that next week when I go to Rosemary Beach near Panama City, Florida for Girl's Getaway Weekend. And I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Love and Hate.

Like Tracy, I think winter is the perfect excuse to snuggle indoors under a blanket with a cup of hot tea and a good book. (As you might remember from a few weeks ago, my TBR pile is quite towering, so I definitely have my pick of fabulous reads!) It's sometimes difficult, though, to appreciate this cold weather. Mainly because our cold nights aren't just chilly--they're downright frostbite-inducing. For instance, I remember getting a day off school in high school because the wind chill was something like -50.

And our Winter Weather Advisories don't just mean a few snowflakes. It's more like a foot of snow, with a layer of ice, making the roads extra fun for rush hour travel. And, being the hearty Midwesterners that we are, we won't even cancel school or close offices.

But, enough about the weather. I think the winter brings a very special opportunity for me: the chance to take a breather. After the craziness of the holiday season, we still have at least two months of hardcore winter. It's chance to regroup, recharge our batteries and slow down a bit before the craziness of the summer starts up again.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite winter activity: skiing. Last year, my family and I journeyed out to Keystone, Colorado for a long weekend filled with skiing, snowboarding, eating and ice-skating. We ate dinner at a fondue restaurant at the mountain's peak. Let me just say, there is nothing quite like sitting next to fire and sipping wine at Lord-knows-how-many-thousands-of-feet up. It's a beautiful, magical place, and one where I hope to visit again this year.

So I think what all this means is that I have a pretty firm love/hate relationship with winter. And I'm hoping that this year, I can focus on the "love" part a bit more!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter Fun and Relaxation

Winter is my second favorite season, but not because of all the snow--though I do think it's very pretty when it's falling. I just hate driving in it, but since I work at home, I don't have to drive in it all that often, so it's not a huge worry for me.

I've always preferred cooler weather to warmer weather, mostly because I find it easier to warm up than I do to cool down, but I'd be lying if I said that my favorite activites were winter activities. I like taking walks, something that isn't that easy to do in the winter when you're a bit on klutzy side like I am, I like swimming, camping, outdoor barbeques, and the like. But I hate the heat of summer.

Winter, on the other hand, is my season of curling up on the couch with a blanket and a book, watching movies, playing Wii and board games with the family, and other assorted indoor activities. Except for the few times each year my kids convince me to go sledding, build a snowman, or have a snowball fight. And I have fun with these activities when I do them, but not enough fun to think of heading out into the freezing cold on my own.

I'm far too clumsy to ever attempt ice skating--can you say broken ankle/knee/nose (because I am quite sure I'd fall on my face), but I love to watch other people ice skating.

I suppose another reason why winter is my second favorite season is because I am a relatively lazy person, and if it's all icy and cold and stuff outside, then I don't have to feel guilty for staying inside with a thick blanket, a cup of hot tea/coffee/cocoa, and a book. In fact, I think I'm going to spend this evening doing just that.

What about you? Are you an indoor or outdoor winter activity person, or maybe a bit of both? What are your favorite winter activities?

On another topic, I wanted to let everyone know that I'll be sharing the first scene from my May release, A BREATH OF MAGIC, this Friday on my personal blog, and another scene every Friday over the next four weeks.