A Little Christmas Bling

Winter slumps in like that grumpy gnome you have hiding in your garden. One minute the sky is blue, the next, there sitting in the corner armchair, or maybe it’s a recliner, is this frown faced, white bearded, cross armed gnome. Sort of like Grumpy. The fog sits in this fuzzy white line across the sky like a low hanging ceiling. Never lifting and you know darn well it’s all blue skies and sunshine above. Maybe. Who knows. It’s this bubble you are in. You have no clue. Heck, it could be rockets red glare up there and you wouldn’t know.

The fog, if it does lift, happens around 4pm right when the sun is making its last pass and is about ready to drop down over the mountains. Then, the night sky is alight with the most midnight blue sky. Brilliant and scintillating with the starshine of the winter constellations. Orion tipped on his side as a waxing gibbous mercury silvers a metal barn roof to mirror shine.

Daytime: late afternoon and deer linger on velvet lawns of faded green and tan, like well placed ornaments. It is Advent season after all. They are like the flocked deer of one’s childhood where there were those beautiful horses and deer and woodland creatures that were the softest to touch but couldn’t have their limbs moved. The kind that area always in the ranching stores. I remember the last time I saw them was in this all purpose Radio Shack store when I was about 12 in Colorado. The kind of store that sold farm toys to kids. Tractors and John Deere things, and blue jeans, and knick knacks for a tourist town.

Advent, when every glittering thing takes on a new meaning. Starlit nights, Christmas lights, a red drum in a second-hand store window, paper bags lining a street with little flickering lights. Turn on every Christmas song I know, watch every Christmas related movie in the world, hum about hippopotamuses and lost front teeth. Grinches and Little Toy Trains. Candles shine more brightly in the dark.

 

Christmas is a fairytale. For Christians it aught to be a fairytale. We are on this quest for the ‘gold’ and the right, we are knights fighting for our King, to end up in a paradise of riches and wealth. They say fairytales don’t exist. Clearly no one ever read the Bible. Why, everything is fantastic and amazing and glorious. And it’s all true! Talk about a story that doesn’t have an end, and the end is going to be so much more magnificent than anything us mortal humans could cook up in section 398.2.

The holiday season is fastly here and I’ve yet to write anything I’ve wanted, but the start of this post was a start of a poem that didn’t go anywhere. It was clearly meant for blog posts and all that.  I can’t quite seem to get out what I’m feeling and thinking. Life is just too chaotic at times. I’m just one motion into another. Planning desserts, Christmas party dresses, functioning. It’s just all a little too much to sit and write. That being said, I am in another Hallmark frame of mind. Ironically, a friend just sent me the best Hallmark Christmas movie plot generator. I am having a blast with it. I dare you to come up with something yourself.

Go for it and tell me what you come up with. Even better, or brownie points if you can name a movie that fits one of these!

Kate

 

Fog Wildfires – Short Fiction

This last month my local valley libraries had their annual writing contest.  I decided to enter their theme of Wildfire Summers and ended up placing third.  Down from second two years ago, but I sort of half-assed it, writing it two days before the deadline.  But still, I placed…. amongst 5 people. Ah, small town.  I have to laugh.

But I thought I would share. I don’t think it’s good enough to ever submit to any literary magazines, but who knows. Once I publish it here, I wouldn’t dream of submitting anyhow.

Enjoy

Fog Wildfire

She called the summer wildfires ‘Fog Wildfires’ after the way the fog of smoke would sink down the mountains just like the fog rolling into San Francisco Bay. However, unlike its counterpart, this kind of fog was hot, dry and smelly. The golden disk of the sun was no more than an amber colored stone, and it gave the land an eerie sepia tone like she had stepped into a western film. Or an aged photograph. Still air with not even a hint of movement made the smoke and heat push down on her. It made her feel anxious and restless.

Days like this, where the smoke was a thick as fog you could cut it and call it marshmallow, except for the nasty, noxious smell of it, which marshmallows were not, was when she wished for the foggy, coastal-like mornings of early January. She loved the cool, winter fog. The kind of fog that was so wet you could see each individual droplet hanging in the air; a fine curtain of silk. The kind of fog that dripped off the eaves and made the earth and trees smell like she was in some exotic damp forest. The kind of fog you find on the coast where you can breathe as deeply as you want and it never hurts because the mist was like a balm to your lungs. Today she wished it was fog instead of smoke.

She had hung her laundry under the porch eaves as ash sifted down like shavings. Ashy pine needles, fragile as talc, floated to the ground in shades of grey and white. Easily crushed under foot. Sifting down like snow, except a whole lot less pretty in her mind. The air was dirty. When the wildfires were at their worst, like today, the sky was obscured by thick, dirty, grey smoke. But of course smoke was dirty. The day so hot you could melt, but then not hot enough as the smoke, thick grey would hide the sun enough to cool it down. And amber sun was not warm.

Stagnant air. Smelly air. Smoke filled air. The air perpetually permeated with the acrid, sharp tang of burnt trees; thousands upon thousands of wilderness burned to a crisp of blackened giant’s toothpicks. Nothing left.

She missed the days that would clear up to blue sky, but only when the inversion lifted. That was always nice because she could breathe again, filling her lungs with fresh mountain air, warm from the summer sun and smelling of fields of grass and wheat. The resin of pines and firs a spicy sweet scent that she could never get enough of smelling. But the lifted inversion meant that the fires would worsen, the blazes having more wind to ignite the downed debris. Then a plume would form, one that you could see for miles, and by late afternoon, the smoke would settle in again, thickening the air, and obscuring all of the scenery.

The laundry had taken forever to hang as she tried to find places around the porch to clip clothespins and hangers. Doubling up clothes on the line she had strung around the eaves. The sheets hung, folded twice to make room for everything. Socks hung double by one clothespin. One couldn’t walk around the porch without something wet hitting them in the face. However, because it was so still, the dampness hung like its own cloud under the roof. Step out from under and she was assailed by the heat and dry smokiness. Step back under and it was a step into the south; damp, muggy.

She couldn’t win. She wanted that misty day where she could sit in her favorite window, the fire warm and dry in the stove as she sat sipping a cup of tea. She didn’t want to be figuring out the best spot to dry her favorite shirts, knowing that they would still smell like smoke for days once they were dry. She was tired of the heat, the smoke, and the incessant smell of it permeating every nook and cranny of her life. Tired of having to sleep with her windows closed because the smoke was so thick she couldn’t see her neighbors.

Every year it was the same thing. Every year there was a wildfire that set up a blaze that lasted months. Every summer she dreaded that first hint of chlorine in the air; her first indication of a fire started in the mountains. Every year she had to make due with hazy days and always smelling like smoke.

She sighed as she took down the burnt smelling sheets. Maybe it was time to invest in a new place to live. Maybe she needed to move to the actual coast. Fires were rare there. Maybe she could find herself a little cottage near the water and breathe mist all day.

She smiled to herself, almost a little giddy at the thought of never having to deal with the wildfires again. It made her bounce around and hum to herself as she took down the laundry. Yes, that’s what she would do. She would live on the sea and have foggy mornings every day. She would never smell smoke again.

Just as she was about to call her cousin who was a realtor she stopped and frowned. If she moved to the coast she would never have the summer heat that she loved. She wouldn’t have the snowy winters and the autumns that were like a storybook waiting to explode in perfection.

Darn it! She was going to have to deal with the smoky summers if she wanted all her other favorite things. She sighed again. Well, at least she could dream of her misty mornings that came in January, and remember them when the smoke was too thick.

Like right now. It was time for another night of closed windows, a stuffy house, and her hair smelling like the burning pine needles. The fires would finally go away, the skies would be blue, and the world would be clean and fresh again, like the mountains should smell. She just had to get through the next few weeks in this foggy kind of smoke.

Such was the life of living where wildfires were a common enough thing every year.

Kate

Shower Fog

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She stood in the square metal shower, the thick steam swirling around her.  She leaned her forehead against the wall and looked down at her feet, far, far away in a thick fog.  Her feet and the floor of the shower were hidden in the misty steam.  Like when you have stepped outside on a foggy day where you couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of yourself.

The hot water sluiced down her skin.  A burning sensation that was somewhat painful on her cold skin. By the time the water had reached her feet it was cold.  Chilled to the bone would have been the words her mother would have described it as.  She felt that cold.  As if her bones were made of freezing cold steel.  Her muscles and skin attached in cold hunks of meat.  Her blood felt congealed and thick, and her movements were slow.

She let her arms hang as the water continued to pound her back.  Suddenly the heat started to go deeper and her body broke out in goose-flesh.  She shivered and spun around so that the water heated the front of her body.  It felt so good. She felt the warmth awaken her mind so that she wasn’t so fuzzy.  She felt herself start to wake up.

By the time she had stepped out of the shower onto the fluffy bath mat, she was heated to the core.  She felt like an ooey gooey brownie hot from the oven.  Like warm caramel.  Ready to puddle on the floor.

Okay, this is just a bit of nothing that I started thinking about as I was trying to warm up in a shower after freezing myself trying to get plants covered and protected from a freeze tonight.  Sometimes you can be out working and you know you are cold, then all of a sudden the cold sinks deep in and you feel it everywhere and there is no way you will warm up unless you take a hot bath or shower.

For the record, I feel kind of ooey gooey right now.  Now if only I could crawl into a down comforter and snuggly up with a cup of tea.

Signing off

~Kate