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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Domestic alchemy & weather magic with Rose Anderson

Our family always bets on the first birds of spring – I’ll say the robins will come on March 20th, my husband will say March 15th.  He’ll say the bobolinks will return by mid-May, I'll say the first week of June. We live in an area surrounded by nature. You can tell where the seasons are by what birds are on the scene. But you’d never know spring was coming by the weather here. Just this past weekend, Mother Nature gave us another five inches on top of all the snow that’s fallen since that first early December snowfall in 2013. (Two more inches have fallen overnight!) I have mountains of snow piled here from the plows – one mountain tops off at ten feet high and could easily give me step-over access to the roof of my garage. We have one day slated to be above freezing next week. Not warm, just above freezing. I'm so looking forward to it.

Two weeks ago, when we actually had two days above freezing, I heard a chickadee sing his “spring’s here” song. I haven’t heard it since. I mentioned that to my husband and we decided the other birds in the neighborhood must have trounced him for lying!
My daughter called to share a recent robin sighting a mere sixty-five miles southeast of here. (Spring travels east to west, and south to north.) Many people consider robins the harbingers of spring in my area. I know I do. I love robins. Especially their 3am birdsong heard through an open bedroom window just as the sun hits the horizon. I figure it'll be at least two weeks more before the birds actually make their way to my yard.

If I close my eyes to the blinding-white blanketing of snow and ignore the biting cold of the polar vortex clutching the Midwest, I can see the birds in my mind’s eye – their perpetual frowns, their reddish round bellies rocking as they dash from one choice spot in the lawn to the next. They’ll have their heads cocked as they patrol the new grass listening for worms. This snow had better melt soon or when they finally arrive they’ll be pretty hard pressed to find the grass, let alone a worm.

For me, the advent of spring signals a serious need to clean house. Family and friends call my yearly bout of domestic mania the Annual Purge because I assess every corner and drawer and rid myself of things that no longer fit my life. You’d be surprised the difference a year makes. In
opening the door to the goddess Hestia, keeper of the home and hearth, I'm beginning this ritual three weeks early. Being cooped up with bad weather has made me too restless to wait. Icicles have become magnifying lenses on my life. Housebound, I can’t help but see the cobwebs and clutter. I can’t ignore the dust and rust. Winter always forces me to see those shortcuts, incidences of laziness, declarations of a busy life, and inexplicable hording of little items like rubber bands, plastic bread bag fasteners, and wine corks.  It's time to sort and organize important things and fix the broken things. It's time to weigh and measure and discard the unimportant and irreparable. It's definitely time for winter to end!

In the past, scrubbing my kitchen floor on hands and knees has inspired warm spring rains to fall just so the dogs could track mud over a clean floor. I think it's an unwritten law in the book of life. I'm sure you know what I mean. Who hasn’t washed  windows or a car and made it rain? So maybe, just maybe, a little domestic alchemy will work some weather magic.


On a theme ~ Because Selkies are known for being excellent housekeepers, I’d like to share a bit from my novel Enchanted Skye:

At twenty-three, black-haired, amber-eyed Beatrix MacCodrum was as beautiful as the rest of her kind. She was also a born homemaker, as the Selkie legends foretold. A Selkie woman would keep a lovely home if a man were lucky enough to find and wed one. No doubt this was true for Beatrix, though as yet unwed, she never lacked hopeful suitors.
Their mother had passed a little more than two years ago and their broken-hearted father preferred the sea to work through his grief. Though they did see him on occasion and were expecting him home for the holidays, last they heard he was living with the Roans on the Isle of Mann. It was only the four of them now in the big house, and called between the sea and land like they were, her brothers came and went.
But not Bea. She’d been caught in a herring net as a child and it nearly killed her. Restless or not, since that incident, Bea preferred the land. She’d decided to turn the manor house into a bed and breakfast, and when she approached her brothers they gave her their blessing. As long as each retained his own quarters while she catered to the tourist trade.
Space wasn’t an issue. There were plenty of rooms for guests in the centuries-old house. Nor was the extra income needed. A cache of Spanish gold had seen to their comfort for centuries and there was always more where that came from. More than one riches-laden galleon went down off the coast, and there was something to be said for the ability to dive to the ocean floor on a single breath. Beatrix didn’t embark on the project to earn a living, she simply enjoyed being an innkeeper but more importantly, adapting to the various needs of her guests fed her restless spirit.
Alex joined Bea in the kitchen, where she was slicing a loaf of just-baked bread. “That was quick,” she said. He was staring at the bread. She shook her head. “I suppose I’ll give you a piece before you start droolin’ on the floor.”
“The smell of baking called me. That looks delicious, Bea. Nobody bakes bread like you.”
She laughed. “Ha! Anything cooked would look good after a month of nothing but raw crabs and fish. I could bake a shoe and you’d want it.”
He laughed with her. “That’s true enough. But then, sis, no one can bake a sole like you either.”
Rolling her eyes at his play on words, she flung a loaf end at him. “Devil. You’re lookin’ like a scarecrow. Didn’t you eat when you were out?”
He caught the bit and promptly ate it. “Like you said, nothing but crabs and fish gets old quickly. I’ll be staying with cooked meat and vegetables for a while.”
She tipped her head toward the oven. “Good. I just put a roast in.”
“Uncle Angus and the Reverend Osmond were there holding service at water’s edge at the lighthouse,” Alex said. “I was wondering why. It looked to me they were scattering ashes on the water. I noticed a young woman there keening.”
Though no true relative of theirs, Angus MacLeod had been their grandfather’s best friend and therefore was as close as family. Bea nodded. “I’ve heard uncle’s sister Mary Margaret was laid to rest today. She lived in the States for years. Meri said Angus wished he’d been able to see his sister one last time. They’d planned it, aye? But she took sick suddenly and went like that.” Bea snapped her fingers. “The poor thing. Poor old uncle is devastated. You know, they talked all the time. By phone and by letter. He’s going to miss her.”
“Poor uncle,” Alex said and shook his head sadly. He sipped his tea. “The woman with them is a relative, ye suppose?”
Noting the feigned nonchalance in the question, Bea lit with interest. Of her three brothers, it was Alexander the middle who’d yet to have serious relationship. She could almost hear her mother say, “Laddie, you’re too much like your father. One day a woman will steal your heart and you won’t know what hit you.”
Bea put a butter-slathered slice of bread on Alex’s plate and went fishing with a little information as bait. “I heard Mary Margaret’s granddaughter brought the ashes over. From Chicago, she is.”
“Huh. Chicago? Will she be staying?”
Bea took a sip of tea. Naturally empathetic, she was able to read people like an open book and her brothers were no exception. She was reading Alex now. “I hear that’s what uncle wants.”
Does the lass have a name, then? Alex didn’t verbalize the question. If they chose, Selkies could read one another’s thoughts on land or in water.
Bea looked at the ceiling, as if the answer lay somewhere above. “Her name is Jenna, Jenna MacLeod.”
Alex smiled. “Jenna MacLeod. That’s odd, no? Wasn’t uncle’s sister named Ross? Wouldn’t her son’s daughter also be Ross?”
      “Hmm. I don’t know,” Bea said. “Maybe she had cause to change it.”


About Rose
Rose is multi-published award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and discovering interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest. 


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Tina Donahue said...

Cleaning, for me, is akin to getting a root canal. The only time I get serious about it is when I see a new edition of "Hoarders". :)

Rose Anderson said...

LoL if you saw how many corks and rubber bands I have you'd call the show to say, "I know this author named Rose Anderson...she needs help." ;)

Cara Marsi said...

I love the idea of you and your family betting on birds. Your descriptions of the snowy landscape is beautiful. We're frigid here too, on the East Coast, and have had about 15 snow storms this winter. You made me feel guilty talking about all that cleaning. I suppose I should do some cleaning too, if I ever get the ambition. Best of luck with your books.

Sandy said...

We had a robin here a few weeks ago when it was in the high 60's and low 70's. He left because it's been below freezing since.

Rose, your book cover is beautiful and your story sounds enchanting. Best of luck with sales.

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks Cara. I entertain a lot so the cleaning is a necessary part of my life. It always helps with my writer's block. Sure enough, I have three books poking me in the head while I'm physically busy. Pushy characters.

Thanks Sandy. I think it's a fun story. I started that novel ages ago and was called away to work on other things. I finally finished it. Author Su Halfwerk did the cover. I love it. It was exactly what I was picturing.

Paris said...

I've heard the robins and have daffodils popping up. So far, it hasn't kept the snow, ice and cold temps from returning. Fingers crossed that after this weekends warm-up, the worst is over. I do the spring cleaning thing too and like you, I think my urge has more to do with being house-bound because of the weather than any actual desire to see the top of my desk, lol!

jean hart stewart said...

Spring cleaning? What's that? Hate the thought...Loved the trailer, Rose..

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

I'm despondent about the weather in the mid-west. And you know in the mid-west, we'll go from bitter to horribly humid in an instant. Cleaning is NOT something that interests me but I admire your energy for it, Rose. And I love your selkies.

Rose Anderson said...

Paris: Robins AND daffodils?? I'm envious!

Jean: Thank you Jean. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Jane: Thank you. Energy...what energy? lol

Adele Downs said...

Very nice post, Rose. It seems we share a fondness for birds. We have feeders on our property and watch birds all year--many of them rare species who live here. We've seen robins for weeks, despite the continual snow. They're ready for spring, just as we are! The thaw is coming. Daffodils are pushing up from the ground under the snow around our house. Can't wait!

Best of luck with your release.


Melissa Keir said...

I hope your cleaning leads to some warmer weather for you. We have the robins around work. I hear them in the morning when I walk in and they talk to me. It gives me hope even with the temps in the single digits and more snow. If your cleaning works, I'll get started on mine!

Rose Anderson said...

Adele: Thanks. We have a lot of rare birds around here too. I started a life list years ago...maybe I'll find it cleaning this clutter!

Melissa: Thanks. lol Maybe the domestic razzmatazz will do something. I'm desperate! It's been miserable here since December 10th. That's a LONG winter.

Gemma Juliana said...

Enjoyed your post, Rose, and can relate to the spring cleaning fever setting in early due to being snow and ice bound. Our first robins appeared here last week and I was so excited. Then it went to 18 degrees again last night and I wondered where the robins went. I admire you for your annual purge. I need to purge my garage as soon as it warms up.

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks Gemma. 18 degrees in Texas?? My brother in Arkansas says his swimming pool is frozen over. Somethings wrong. It snowed here again last night. Ugh.

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

Ray said...

I don't know what to think. Within the last week the temperature has been like a yo yo. In fact that has been going on all winter. It will be seventy and slowly go into the twenties and back up. One day in the last week was shorts weather. Then Monday it turned cold with rain, sleet and snow. Yesterday the roads were merely wet after the ice melted in late morning. Last night the region had a rash of accidents after a couple hundred during morning rush. This morning ice. By ten when my daughter and her boyfriend go t work the streets will be clear. Today it will make it to forty. By Saturday it will be in the mid fifties until the following weekend when it goes back into the forties.

I don't want spring I want summer. I may even drive to the beach to hurry it along.

Ray said...

I forgot to mention I just bought Enchanted Skye. It is going on one of my Kindles.

Rose Anderson said...

Thank you Ray. I hope you enjoy it. I just heard the weather report. We might hit 40 on Tuesday! Domestic alchemy works. It pays to clean house!

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