Snow falling on imaginary landscapes

Thursday, December 5, 2002

Dec. 5, 2002

Dear Julie,

The ground is covered in 5 luxurious inches of the first snow of winter. Few cars are trying the streets. The silence is exquisite. Oops, here comes a road grader. Now it's gone and all I hear are DC's birds gabbing in the front bedroom and Lucy giving herself a tongue bath.

Snow falling in Cape Girardeau is an event that occurs only a few times a year anymore. The first snow is like being a baby again because it remakes the world you have become accustomed to. All creation looks new. Bare branches dancing against the gray snow sky make you think you could write haiku.

The landscape of the backyard we know so well is buried in whiteness, and now all the changes we'd like to make there somehow seem more possible. The slate is suddenly blank.

At the back of the yard we want to build a two-car garage with a potter's studio on the first floor and a writer's studio above. The writer's studio is DC's idea, not mine. Given only more solitude, she thinks I might someday write something people don't throw in the trash. I think of the manuscript William Faulkner's family expected to find when he finally emerged from his room one day after weeks in isolation. All they found was a room full of liquor bottles. Also, see "The Shining."

We also envision extending the back porch and transforming it into a solarium. The swimming pool would go directly behind.

DC also plans a series of platformed decks in the back corner of the yard, surrounding the red bud tree. The tree would be like an umbrella. A secret place, screened in, with a little fireplace. A few nights ago she watched "Movies for Guys" because during breaks from the Steven Seagal movie the guys talked about building decks.

That's just the fantasy, of course. The reality is that our rickety fence should have been condemned years ago. Every few weeks, one of the weathered planks falls to the ground of its own long-dead weight and we plug the hole with a new board. It's like a weary army being propped up at attention by new recruits.

Our bedroom is so drafty that we put plastic over the eight windows in the winter. You don't see that in any of DC's home-decorating magazines but at least the wind doesn't muss up our hair while we sleep.

All those windows do make it easier to watch the snow fall.

Half the white paint has been removed from the spindles on the front stairway. DC wants to restore them to the natural wood finish. The restoration is at seven years and counting.

The back stairway still records Hank and Lucy's chewing period as puppies.

Another part of the fantasy is to rearrange the upstairs bathroom. I want to put in a shower. DC prefers putting it in the half-bath downstairs, meaning we'd have to knock out a wall. My fantasies do not involve wall-knocking.

Snow has continued falling into the night. DC has promised spicy Mexican hot chocolate when I get home from work.

Hank and Lucy dig their noses in and play sliding games with their newfound loss of traction. We haven't learned Alvie's snow proclivities yet. This one is so deep and his beagle belly is so low to the ground that he has difficulty just walking around. Imagine the world from his point of view, a foot off the ground. He must have big fantasies too.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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