Burns & Frozen Pipes.

The weekly snowstorm.

The weekly snowstorm.

The snow is falling fast in huge clumps outside my window as NYC gets socked with yet another snowstorm.

The sound of shovels scrunch, scrunch, scrunching away along sidewalks and the intermittent rumble of snowplows serves as yet another reminder of why I don’t want a car. Ice pellets bombard the window and somewhere out there in the driving wind I hear the honk of a local blue jay. He’s high on a branch pecking away at some late morning breakfast. What the hell is he doing out there? Then he flies away in the blizzard’s whiteness. How lucky that he can just fly away and go anywhere.

A friend is enjoying a holiday south of the border and I think of her with a mix of envy and delight. Good for her that she got out of Dodge without any hassles and is missing the nuttiness that comes with a snowstorm and the travel delays that follow.

It seems like everyone I speak with grows more pissed off by the weekly blizzards. They are done with this weather.  Would it be nice to be away on an island or chilling out in some laid back haven enjoying the sound of the surf and getting toasted by a Caribbean sun? Hell yeah. But I love the winter and appreciate the snowfall. I take advantage of it to hunker down and do the things I won’t do once the windows get flung wide open again.

Writing is another matter. Finding inspiration when you don’t travel brings its own challenges. But like the tiny flower buds that peek out from the dark cluster of leaves in the cyclamen plant on my windowsill, you have to reach for every ray of light to grow your ideas.

Local things. There are loads of local things to spark ideas and I’m a huge ambassador for investigating your town, city or state. Living in a metropolitan area gives city dwellers easy access to arts, culture, and parks. There’s always something out there waiting for us and sometimes you have to look at it from a different point of view to find the creative angle to find your story. For folks who live in more rural areas, the access to mountains, lakes, woods and wilderness has its own rewards. Music, movies, food, wine—travelers journey for these interests and whether you live in the city or suburbs, we all have them in our backyard which means we can write about them. It’s all about reaching for the light from a different angle.

Burns, favorite for a reason.

Burns, favorite for a reason.

Earlier this month, I traveled upstate for a Robert Burns Night and for one brief evening was transported to Scotland. Burns, a poet and lyricist, was Scotland’s favorite son and although he died in 1796, his birthday is celebrated every year in Scotland and pretty much anywhere Celtic culture is appreciated. The night’s all about tradition, with pipers, haggis (pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver and lungs—blech!), lots of Scotch whisky, and lots of tartan plaid. It was on ribbons and bows, skirts, shirts and dresses. There were men decked out in kilts, with turned down kilt hose, garters clipped to their socks and daggers tucked into them, discussing their sporran and what is was there for. And there was lots of poetry, speeches, and silliness.

If you’re looking for a way with words, the Scots found loads of inspiration in one supper. There’s an order to this night, and it starts with the drone of pipers welcoming in the guests. From then on, there are opening ceremony blessings for the supper and a special one for the haggis. Then they stab it, cut it up, and serve dinner. There are speeches and poems, a toast to the lads and a toast to the lassies. . It all ends with Auld Sane Syne, a song which no one knows the words to except for the main bit. The Scotch whisky is flowing and the snow is blowing.

There was snow, lots and lots of it. It snowed from the moment I woke that morning, until long after I drove back to Phoenicia in the falling snow that night to the house I was staying in. The house with the frozen pipes.

Trying to write when you haven’t traveled can kind of be like frozen pipes. Sometimes you’ve got to blast a blow dryer on them and that still doesn’t work. It’s hard and it’s laborious but if you want things to flow, it’s got to be done.

Since last night, 2,400 flights have been canceled nationwide. Whatever your weather conditions, don’t let it keep you down.


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