Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A love affair with snow - Kathleen O'Brien

I am in Pennsylvania right now. Officially I'm attending my grad school residency, but really I'm having a short, intense love affair with snow.

I do appreciate that winter has a no-joke, dangerous side. I'm watching with deep concern as the blizzard pummels the Southeast. I'm sending good thoughts for safe passage to all the stranded travelers.

But for this one fairy tale week, I feel as if I've stepped into an enchanted land. The wind blows clear and crisp, with temperatures in the teens. The hills roll soft and white, and every roof is frosted. The trees are black lace against pearly gray, pink and blue skies. And as we drive up to our hotel at night, the parking lot sparkles under the streetlights, as if the sky rained diamond chips all day.

In fact, I feel as if I've landed in one of my own books. A few years ago, when I was writing the "Four Seasons in Firefly Glen" series, I created a winter so idyllic I yearned to live there. For this week, at least, that dream has come true.

My grad school buddy from Chicago does the driving here, because she is the one least likely to smash us into one of those beautiful snowy trees. She thinks I'm ridiculous. In fact, tonight she compared me to an idiotic character in the movie "Australia," who gushes over the novelty of a kangaroo until she gets knocked down by one.

I can't help it, though. I'm absolutely thrilled, right to the tips of my numb, half-frozen toes. I was born in Tampa and have lived in Florida my entire life. I've seen snow before, but not nearly often enough to grow blase about it.

Do any of you feel the same way about snow? Or--like so many people who indulge in flings--am I just succumbing to the easy allure of the unknown?


Nas Dean said...

Hi Kathleen,

Lovely, lovely photos. I don't know, maybe it's something to do with living in a tropical country but I yearn for the snow!

Terry Odell said...

After more than 3 decades in Florida, I'm enjoying the climate here in the Colorado mountains. It's been (they tell us) a very mild winter, but we did have snow Sunday night and below zero temps in the wee hours this morning. I might have to get a new car, though--Hubster will have to drive me to my hair appointment this morning because my little Honda Fit won't make it out of our driveway. But I always considered those long, drawn out Florida summers as being too miserable to venture out in. Here, I can sit and watch the wildlife as I write.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Sherry Lewis said...

No snow here, but the toes are frozen anyway. I spent (mumbledy mumble) years of my life living in Montana and Utah, and though I still think the snow is pretty in theory, I'm pretty happy to be away from the reality of it for a while. Right now, I like that no matter what season it is, I don't have to worry about falling down on the ice. Even when it's miserably hot and humid here, it's still safe to walk :)

My feelings may change some day, of course. Anything could happen!

Kaelee said...

There's snow here and with our blue skies today it's quite beautiful

You remind me of a lot of people attending a business convention in Munich Germany just after Christmas one year. There were people from quite a few places on the bus trip we took to Salzburg Austria.
The ones from the southern USA demanded that the bus driver stop so they could get pictures of the snow covered trees. It really added to the pleasure of our trip as we watched them play in the snow for the first time in their lives. This was before any references to bucket lists but one 65 year old southern belle said it had been a life long wish to see such a sight. Now I'd like too see alligators in the wild.

Estella said...

I grew up with snow. I now live where we seldom get any. I DON'T miss it.

Pat Cochran said...

I'm a native of Houston, Texas
where it rarely ever snows. When
it does snow (last winter) it's
only an inch or so. We have had a
couple of ice storms that coated
the trees and power lines. BTW, it was a gorgeous sight!

Your photographs are great!

Pat Cochran

lori said...

I grew up with snow and didn't fall out of love with it until I joined the work force. Standing out in twenty degree weather while scraping the windshield, having to heat the car key in order to unfreeze the door lock, putting on snow tires at the first snow and then having to endure the "vibration" on unsnowy roads, certainly took the bloom off my love. Now I live in sunny Florida. I do miss Ohio springs, autumns and heavenly summers.

ev said...

I've been in Upstate NY most of my life, and even though I bitch and complain about it, I'd miss it. A couple years ago the entire family went to Disney Orlando for Xmas and we all said it wasn't really Xmas without the snow and cold. I don't play in it, but love to sit and enjoy it with a hot cup of cocoa and a good book.

As for driving, well, I've got AWD and know how to use it. A 10.5HP snowblower to take care of us and my elderly neighbors and 3 dogs that act like little puppies out there in the snow.

Without winter, I don't have spring, summer and fall. All of which I can deal with. The snow that fell Fri and Sat was so gorgeous. Too bad I had to be to work before the sun came up and couldn't get any pics.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Hi, everyone! So sorry to take a while getting back to you...especially after you took the time to leave a comment! But I just got my legs under me again after a long train ride home from PA. It's so awesome to see all of you here The people whose names came up in my random selection for a free book are Kaelee, Ev and Estella.

If you three will email me your snail mail addresses, and which of my backlist titles you'd like ("The Redemption of Matthew Quinn" and "Happily Never After" are, I think, the only ones I don't have on hand), I'll get your books to you asap!

Thanks, everyone!


Kathleen O'Brien said...

Nas, I do think living in tropical areas can make us yearn for snow. It takes on a truly magical quality...and I have to say it did seem magical to me, when I finally got to experience it first hand. I have a wonderful little video taken on my phone, just showing how the snow sparkles at night. I'll have to see if I can post it on Facebook! I hope you get to share the thrill often enough to please your heart!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Terry, Colorado sounds divine! I've seen some of your wildlife pictures over on Facebook, and I've been enchanted. I know you must be having a fabulous time...and I hope you get the perfect car to handle the rough spots!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Sherry, I do suspect that living with snow year in and year out could definitely take some of the magic out of the whole thing! LOL. This was my second year in PA in Jan, and though I still adored it I could feel that eventually a person could take it for granted. A lot like the way I take balmy breezes through the palm trees for granted, I guess! Here's to all the snow-free winters you want! :)

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Kaelee, we really do see alligators ALL the time down here! My sister and I have a favorite little park on the river in Tamp, where we can watch the herons and the egrets and the ducks, and the alligators watch us! :) I still find them a bit creepy, though.

Your description of the tourists from the Southern US was so tolerant and sweet! It didn't annoy you? I would definitely be one of them!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Estella, your succinct comment said it all! LOL...apparently a person absolutely CAN get totally over it! I'm glad you've got a better climate now!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Pat, I've never seen an ice storm, but I once had to research the heck out of them because I was writing a book in which the hero and heroine were stranded in one! I could see how amazingly beautiful they might be...while also being quite dangerous! The whole idea of a world turned completely crystal is so magical!

But, as we romance readers all know, Texas has some magical things of its cowboys! :)

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Lori--having to heat your car keys??? Wow. Those are the little telling details that a simple tourist would never know. It does sound a bit annoying! I've learned the joys of scraping ice off the windows and getting stuck in snow, and I think I'm learning why it might not be entirely magic! :) But you're right...sometimes snow is the price you pay for those other gorgeous seasons, like spring and fall.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Ev, hugs about your snow-less Christmas down here! Even we native Floridians feel gypped if we don't get a cold snap for Christmas. It's just be wearing t-shirts and sandals on Christmas. :)

Sounds as if you've shown Snow who's boss! LOL. Well done!

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you for your write-up and pictures, Kathleen; and everyone else for your comments.

Here in Arkansas we can expect at least some snow every winter. When I was a kid I lived in places where we could expect much more.

Back then it meant playing in the snow, sledding, building snowmen and snow forts, snowball fights. In short, snow was fun.

Now that I'm grown up, snow means icy roads, hazardous driving, slick sidewalks, shoveling clear my driveway---and of course, precautions against falls, traffic accidents, and frozen pipes. Not much fun in any of it!

One footnote. For twelve years I had a beautiful, charming white cat named Lucretia. Sadly, she died last September.

But while she was with me, I used to joke whenever we had snow that this was the only time of the year when Lucretia could blend into the background to pounce on other critters. But even then, she never caught any. Lucretia was terrible at hunting---thank goodness!

Keep up the good work!