It Was a Dark and Stormy Night ...

January 22, 2016

 

Does a threatening storm exhilarate you? Do dark and rainy days bring you one kind of mood, and bright shards of sunlight another? Weather affects me and always has. I find blustery autumn days perfect for moody writing while a swift change in atmospheric pressure can bring on a migraine. I can feel the winter draw in around me as the days shorten. My spirits lighten with spring. I love that about weather. Plus, I find it endlessly fascinating. I have often thought that I might have been a meteorologist in a previous life, if such things existed (previous lives, that is, not meteorologists). I monitor the weather channels far more assiduously than necessary for mere clothing or travel decisions. Can’t help it, I love it.

 

And I’m not alone. There’s all kind of science around about how and why we respond to the weather, everything from ions and ozone to hormones and melatonin. As well, there are centuries-worth of examples of the weather’s impact on artistic expression – music, art, photography, dance. And, as a reader, I’m delighted when weather is woven into fiction. A little pathetic fallacy goes a long way towards pulling me into the mood and power of a tale.

 

 

 

So here’s a special treat to celebrate the recent publication of my short story “Storm Wife” in On Spec Magazine: An absolutely astonishing photograph titled "Contrast" by Saskatchewan photographer Craig Boehm. Craig is a storm chaser as well as a photographer. For more of Craig’s evocative work, see his website (http://www.skstormchaserphoto.com ), and follow him on Twitter (@SKstormchaser) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/skstormchaserphotograghy). “Storm Wife” was inspired by such stormy weather and its sheer, raw power.

 

Like the photograph, “Storm Wife” takes place in the Canadian prairies. Specifically, the story is set in and around the city of Winnipeg where I grew up, in the 1960’s and 70’s. The story has lots of big, scary Manitoba weather, the kind that’s a character unto itself: wind, storms, floods and blizzards. Through two young sisters, it tells of the reputed power of legendary Scottish sea witches/storm wives to raise and channel these forces. It asks what happens when people immigrate in modern times and try to leave the old legends behind in a new world with its own harsh demands? What happens to children growing up with secrets? And of course, there’s the age old tale of teens becoming adults, with the struggle that can entail. I hope you enjoy it – safe inside with a warming drink while the winds howl around you.

 

Anyway, the days are already longer up here in the Northern Hemisphere. A bit. Spring’s coming in four months, I can feel it. And in the meantime, there’s still plenty of time for a few major blizzards. Happy reading.

 

MENACING ENTITY OF THE MONTH:  FOXGLOVE

 

 

They look innocent don't they, the lovely blooms of Digitalis purpurea at the shady bottom of the garden? Its common name, foxglove, comes from faery lore (foxglove may have originally been “folk’s glove”). Other old names bespeak its healing powers (Witch’s Glove) as well as deadly qualities (Dead Man’s Bells). Yes, it was the original source of digitalis, the heart medicine. But it carries within it cardiac glycoside toxins, which can lead to severe illness, seizures, cardiac arrest and death if any parts of the plant are consumed – even vase water from a flower arrangement. Don’t grow this if you have toddlers anywhere near your garden. You've been warned.

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