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I find the U.S. political/cultural turmoil too much sometimes: the instant backlash to, well, whatever; viral videos, viral vitriol, viral ... aarrgghh Over the last few days, with temps fluttering between 10 and -11 F and new snowfall of 20+ inches, I have taken solace in skiing & snowshoeing in the woods. This morning, awoken by an unsettling dream, I took to the forest & at the crest of a ridge was given a spectacular reminder of the power of nature to bring balance and peace.

It is 1971, I am snowshoeing in the woods near a neighbor, Wilts Stevens. It is -14F. Wilts is 92 & has lived on the farm all his life. Suddenly, we see him ahead on the trail, looking at us, leaning on his walking stick, waiting. He smiles. We say hello. He nods in silence, surveying the trees. Turning his walking stick in the snow making it squeak, he says: "'Spect this stick will squeak for another two days, & then it'll warm up.'" We walk on.

My final big project for https://youngwritersproject was to develop a magazine-style presentation for selected best work in order to stop using a web-based 3rd party platform that was clunky, time-consuming to use & out of our database. And what if they folded? So, with help from a coder from Russia, we did it. (Please go experience.)

I asked him if we could acknowledge him, “No, no,” he said. “They think I’m hacker. I’d rather stay hidden in the shadows of the trees.”

@tdorey @dogtrax @katebowles @skiring @matt @lauraritchie @clhendricksbc I'd like to introduce you to @evarocheleau a college student with remarkable curiosity & energy. She listens. And thinks. She loves stories, breathes stories. She's just joined Mastodon so reach out to her if you could. She & I are part of a group helping 20+ students create social action documentaries. I learn from her. She's done the program; the story she created was remarkable. I look forward to her posts.

A year ago Christmas, my oldest daughter, a musician (& more), gave me this for a present: "A project together." We've yet to do it.

We near an idea: Go to the bayous for Mardi Gras, away from the maddening drunks, in the heart of it all. We record sounds. We shoot pictures. We eat, laugh & listen to stories & music. Maybe she joins in. Maybe I tell stories.

Our main purpose: To start a story just by doing. With no idea of what we may do with what we capture. It will come to us.

Thanks to @lauraritchie and @clhendricksbc @clhendricksbc for the info. I think I will split my brain yet again and keep both accounts in different Mastodon instances, here & ... I may repost a fair amount from instance to instance. I feel a need to try to help build a writing community, a place where people can exchange ideas and help, though 500 characters is a handicap for us writerly (cough, cough, verbose) types.

Mastodon queries. I created an account on in hopes that that instance connects me to more people engaged in the writing profession, thus more opportunity for feedback on specific work. Managing two accounts seems crazy; HOWEVER, I am unsure what happens if I redirect this account to the one there. Do I lose the follows/followers? Do I lose the toots & replies? Do you no longer see me? Are my toots only posted there or are they also posted here? Anyone out there with knowledge?

The darkness before dawn always seems more dark, quiet than any other time. Today is no different. As I sit here, in my study, and gaze out the sliding glass doors to the woods beyond, I discover that this silence is brought on by snow, falling gently, without wind, the animals curled up, the world still asleep, the only sound, if magnified so that you could hear, would be the sound of each flake settling down, lightly, atop its mates. What is the sound that no sound makes?

@skiring I was sitting here awaiting my daughter who, at 31 god bless her, still calls on me from time to time to help her unravel a writing issue, this time an essay for a residency in performance (music, puppetry, movement); after 7 years on the road she wants to take a deep breath & absorb all she's learned and redefine. And as I await her near final draft, I hear the bleep, beep, beep of Mastodon & discover you, Skiring, have been reading and favouriting my work. Wow. Warm my heart. Thanks

In Vermont, when the holidays are over and the reality of the 109 days of January sets in, two friends have a winter party.

We guests are to bring skates and, if we wish, food to share, beverages, a dead Christmas tree and a match.

So we skate. And eat. And haul our trees to the field, near the pond, and build a tower. Then we light it. You can imagine what the fire looks like, it's height and firefly sparks; here is what it looks like when you look away from the fire.

@katebowles the oddest thing, Kate: I saw your pics here and whoa! holy mackerel! I happened upon the same junkyard and saw the same nookshelves, BUT, but ... I apparently came before you did because in your shots, the contents I saw seem to have been claimed ....

I spent the morning giving feedback to a fellow writer on her latest draft of her novel. A handful of writers call on me to do this knowing that I will not mince words (kindly, though) and will, also, offer them strategies to revise/repair. I enjoy it, but it's exhausting to climb into someone else's brain, particularly as I wrestle with my own novel's demons. Hmmm, can I apply my advice to my own work? Sometimes one can see others' work more clearly than one's own.

On the ice again today: 3 hours, 10+ miles, 4 fisherpeople, 6 skaters.
What they don't tell you about weight loss: When you shed some pounds & then go do something monstrously active, it's, golly-gee, easier. And safer: Ice today was so smooth it looked wet. With long, strong strides hit full tilt -- flying really -- when WHAM, skate got caught in a crack (looking towards shore; didn't see it) & down I went. Hard. BUT, rolled over, got back up, skated on. Cooool. (Ice form below)

On the last day of 2008 I went to a pond for a skate; did 2 laps, 10 miles, into the wind & then with it, twice. For a time, I shared a puck with 2 former classmates of one of my kids, passing the puck back & forth, watching it slide smoothly for ridiculous distances ... until ... finally ... it ... reached ... the other person's outstretched stick ... 150 ... yards ... away. Other peeps were there, like this piano player; without a New Year's gig he went fishing. Enjoy his rig.

Gevalt boosted

Okay, this is a once in a lifetime offer, if you help me and boost this I will NOT take your soul when you die!!
I really want to make these t-shirts, but right now I only have half of the 10 preorders I need :/

#mastoArt #creativeToots #wolf

Bitter cold suddenly turned dramatically warm; torrents of rain hitched a ride and by daybreak even the woods in the upper ridges were snow-less. What stories were revealed, in this case conflict: Several coyotes finally caught up with a deer, spreading pieces, its fur, too, all over this flat table of rock just yards from my house. Wondrous what goes on around you, in the wee hours, so close to you, yet a world far away.

I have posted my latest story, "Pinkham: December 24, 1947" at This is a character sketch; I do these as warm-up; I will begin to write the actual novel in March.These sketches help me get to know the characters, the story, the place, giving me clarity & confidence. Most sketches I delete; this is one I saved. It was performed by Vermont Stage Company Dec. 12-16. The actor, Patrick Clow, gave me the honor of heartfelt and splendid performances. Peace to all

I have been wrestling with a cold/flu for 12 days (seems like weeks) now and today I could take it no longer. I got dressed, bundled up, got my camera and headed for the woods. A favorite spot -- a trail that leads to a smaller trail which today lead to a trail that was only in use by animals. A bit of a climb but I was oh so rewarded at the top with a gorgeous view of the Adirondacks. i stayed almost too late, coming down as it grew dark. Knowing the way helped. Enjoy the view.

Tweeted this, but it didn't go anywhere it seems: @Downes @lauraritchie @dogtrax Stephen, thanks for today's session on , a great reminder that we must be intentional to reach out to, bring in, support those who need it most, those without agency, opportunity and voice. I feel an affinity to this spirit with what Young Writers Project has done at ... the teens mostly those who feel isolated, unliked, outside. Not surprisingly, they develop strong voice.

The cold, grey December days in Vermont make us yearn for bonfires and laughter. The other night we were invited to stop by a friend's house and so walked through the woods on snowshoes. Hot, laced cider; amazing food; good company and a warm house were the tonic needed. We stayed for five hours. Count 'em. Then we departed, headlamps in place, our hearts adequately warmed to handle the snowshoe back. Didn't even feel the wind.

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