A Cold Winter’s Night

Silent Night, Snowy Night in Full Swing.

I’m sure you all heard the hype this week: Snow. Snow! SNOW!

Where's all the snow? Flash is off, silly.

It was on everyone’s lips – at least across the Midwest. Even Twitter succumbed to a frenzy of fun names for it: “Snowpocalypse,” “Snomageddon,” “Snowprah’s Big Giveaway,” and the like. Weather.com predicted up to 16 inches rolling across my own fair section of Michigan for Tuesday and Wednesday, with biting winds and a freezing helping of ice to go along with it. MSU declared a weather emergency and canceled classes. LCC followed suit. And all across the state schools were closing left and right they day before the snow ever touched ashore.

There's the snow!

It’s rule one they teach you in JRN 200: Beware of hype. Now, that’s not to say we didn’t get a good deal of snow. We did. Ten inches. But it was far from the end-times the news and internet community seemed to be wrapped up in the concept of. Besides: it’s Michigan. It snows here. I don’t know about how the rest of you Mid-Westerners fared but up here, well, sure it got nasty, but it wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Nor am I opposing the end results…I mean, hey, they want to give my friends a day off and give the student body of MSU even more reasons to drink (like they need any), I mean, hey, who am I to object?

I’m just saying: Don’t go crying wolf till he’s in the pen, alright?

Regardless, I took the opportunity to grab some fine pictures to commemorate the occasion. They’re broken down into night of and morning after. For you Michiganders, it’ll probably be a bit of nostalgia. For those of you non-Michiganders, it’ll give you a nice idea of what we deal with. And why we’re unimpressed when other states start declaring emergencies in the midst of an inch or two of snowfall.

This photographic journey is hosted in part by Fane the Wonder Dog. I know, it’s quite a title.

Okay, so there were some bad moments.

A Winter Checklist, for Michigan

The Red Cedar River, MSU. By Chris Galford.

Checklist for a Michigan Winter:

1.       Thick coat. Get your dang Northface out of here.

2.       Boots. Preferably fluffy. Leather also good. Steel-toed = best.

3.       Thermal socks. Because your normal whities just aren’t gonna cut it, sweetheart.

4.       Scarf. Because that floppy little hood you’re wearing is just the wind’s plaything.

5.       Hot Cocoa. For the kid inside. And also that numb sensation you seem to be experiencing.

6.       A car that isn’t a Ford Taurus. Snow makes them go into concrete poles, you know. Er, or so I hear…

7.       Salt. Take a step outside after the first winter rain and you’ll understand why. “Boy the ground sure is shiny to—hell!”

8.       A heater. In your home if nowhere else. Don’t got one? Ignore all aforementioned then, cause you’re probably as stiff as Frosty the bloody snow man by now anyway.

9.       Purple fingers. Because hell, even with all the above, you’re still going to get them after any real time outside. It’s a real Michigan color.

Just came back from a 2 and a half hour jaunt through a frozen Michigan State University and a snowy Lansing River Trail. Cocoa now firmly in hand, I have begun the appropriate after-ritual of sitting in a corner with a space heated on and a sweat shirt pulled snug until the feeling returns to hands and feet. Fingers crossed that it’ll be soon.

We've been spending a lot of time together, these books and I.

Productive day though – a good end to an equally productive week. Poems have been sent to four publishers now, with two more publishers picked out with poetry waiting to be sent to them as soon as they begin receiving again come February. Two more publishers will be getting the e-mails tomorrow, and then, it’s time to move on to short stories. Keep an eye out, you may see some on here soon as well (and yes, I know I’ve said that before. I mean it this time…I’ve got dozens).

The last of my editors just sent in their notes about my novel, so I’m all but ready to go on that as well. One last look through, comparing notes and checking final edits…and then it’s off to another, more intricate publisher hunt, and all the stress that’ll bring. But I look forward to it, anxiously.

As for the job front…well…Michigan is Michigan.

Photos will come tomorrow, along with next week’s quotes of the week (no, I haven’t forgotten. I know you’re all watching and waiting for me to so you can say I told you so).

Winter-White Haiku

Winter in Rockford, MI. By Chris Galford.

Cold…so cold. High of 14 today. Inside writing, doing my best to hide from the chill. Not as much snow as in the photo – the picture’s from back in 2009 – but the wind and the ice don’t make things any better. On the bright side, a little cocoa and some tiny marshmallows do lead to the occasional Winter-ku…

White sea enfold me

All is silence in the rough

Hands ache summer’s cry.

The Oak

Alone, standing, oaken life take root

the wood gnarls as branches stretch,

the colored leaves fall down, down

and the moss hangs down, down

bent, twisted, craven mass of limbs.

I stand, wondering how this, alone, might stir and how the

—limbs, reaching, have no other limbs to twine,

I touch, and I consider wood-borne genocide, this rough

—bark grating on my fingers,

but the bough yields and the leaves descend,

and I, standing here alone, am left to ponder

how colorless the world can be

with one life, one love, and none to share it,

and I think it is no wonder this solitary thing

sets to wilting in the chill.

* My latest contribution to the wonderful One Shot Poetry Wednesdays! Once you’ve had a look, check out some of the other One Shot Poets as well– they’re a skilled bunch of poets, looking to form a community and support one another.  Enjoy!

Arctic Road

Downtrodden disaster

Dragging destitute through dirty drives,

The ice has broken through

And the hole is widening

As the whole is dividing

This trek, all too familiar

Along this arctic road

Is better left to

Colder men than I.

It’s breaking—

Broken, gone

Everything is cracking

At the seams—

Deep diving through the murk.

Heavy breaths hang

A crystallized admission

But no matter the passing

These burdens never lighten.

My latest contribution to the wonderful One Shot Poetry Wednesdays! Once you’ve had a look, check out some of the other One Shot Poets as well– they’re a skilled bunch of poets, looking to form a community and support one another.  Enjoy!

To change things up: some Haiku

Today, breaking from the usual vacation-based poems of the week, I give you a series of Haikus. The trip was beneficial for many things, but my Haiku especially saw a lot of work while I was away. Enjoy:

Man climbs high above

But the earth climbs higher still;

Highest rides the sun.

Each step, hotter fire

Each breath, a chiller embrace—

The sky is thinning.

Fourteen thousand feet,

The world becomes a crystal

Despite summer heat.

Winter Fire

Trails wind into the heart of winter,

Built serpentine through rock and wood.

The life runs through it,

Bursting through the seams.

White earth rain down

Upon the precipice—

Shield your eyes against the light,

There is fire in the winter sheen.

Summer Snow

Yep, that's me!

Well I have returned at last from my trip to Colorado. Suffice to say, it was a beautiful trip, every minute of it. I have always felt a calling to the mountains, and I personally feel my brother is a lucky man to live amongst them. Wonderful places–breathtaking scenery, bizarre weather, and the perfect spots for exercise and the embrace of creativity. I now have more than 300 pictures added to my library, some of which you will probably see attached to some of my work in the days to come.

I saw a number of places while I was in-state. From bustling downtown Denver, to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Red Rocks, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the city of Boulder (about as artsy a town as one might find), among others. Between the sight-seeing and the time spent catching up with family, however, I am proud to say I also accomplished a great deal of work. Both there and on the flight, both in terms of poetry and my novel, I made great headway, and I will be posting the results of the weeks to come.

To start us out, I have a poem inspired by a climb to the heights of the Rocky Mountains where, despite broiling 80 degree temperatures below, a beautiful field of snow awaited, and on the peaks for miles around. A bit breezy, by the way, and I had the brilliant idea of hiking in shorts and a t-shirt. Terrible fun, but a wee bit chilly.

So to begin:

14,000 Feet Above the World

Snowball fights in shorts;

The sun beats down

Atop the world.

Slipping along the rocks

I stumble out to see the world,

And I am Freedom,

Dangling over Nothing

In the summer heat.