Writing My Life

Now and Then


… winter poems … just in time for SPRING …

OK. I’m not the poet my cousin Bonnie was, but I have dabbled in versification since I could put together sentences. I have a couple examples that I wrote in 4th grade, I think. (I’ll share those at another time.) The poems I want to share now are ones I wrote WITH my seventh-grade students W-A-A-A-Y back in the ’90s.

Starting after Thanksgiving, we created “formula” poems – verses that follow “a set pattern of instructions.”  For example, Haiku is a formula poem. Not everyone favors this kind of poetry, but I always enjoyed it because I was often surprised with the end result. I think these endeavors require writers to precisely choose the perfect word with the right number of syllables and still create lines of magic. I’m not saying my efforts achieve that,  but some came close. And many of my students surprised themselves, too.

After playing with poetry for a week, we chose our favorite originals and constructed books to present as Christmas presents to people who love poetry or us. The first time I assigned this project was pre-computer/writing lab days, and so we handwrote our poems and created our own “clip art.” Knowing that talented poets may not be talented artists, I brought in magazines to aid the “old-school” version of “cut and paste!”

I didn’t want to be a teacher who could “dish it out, but couldn’t take it,” so I always worked on the same assignments I gave to my students. The “hand-crafted” book I created that year remains my favorite. There is something about a handwritten work that makes it a bit more intimate, even if the subject isn’t necessarily personal. Rather than type up the poems from my bookLET WinterScape, I scanned them so my dear readers can feel that personal touch of which I speak! (OK, you can stop snickering!)

I found this illustration in a magazine and loved it . I have NO idea what it was advertising, but I want to credit that anonymous ad-man/woman for inspiring the theme AND the title  for my little book.

This is my favorite! “The Guardian” is called a “concrete” poem, and the first line starts near the brim of the hat:: “A black silk stovepipe hat sits atop the snowman’s fat face.” Can you wind your way around the rest of the verse?

Each of these two 5-line poems are examples of a “cinquain.” Requirements demand that a certain number of nouns, ajectives, gerunds, and synonyms combine to create succinct verses!

While nearly every student in the world knows Haiku, the ancient formula poem is difficult to create. Traditionally, the subject involves nature, but the commentary is also profound – don’t look for that in these efforts!

The “diamante” asks the poet to create 5 lines of adjectives, nouns, and gerunds that move from general to specific!

“Winter Ready!” is a “list” poem. My poem was inspired by a scene from every kid’s life! To introduce list poems, I played songs that featured lyrics of lists. Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and Faith Hill’s “This Kiss” are two examples.

Well, I think that’s it. I know I should have posted this in January and my January Valentine post tonight, but I’ve learned that you go with what you’ve got when blogging becomes part of your life. Still, I wish you all a wonderful Valentine’s Day.




… January thaw – HA! …

Just as I LOVE Indian summers in the autumn, I also appreciate January thaws in the winter. And I suppose temperatures in the 30s rather than in single digits qualifies – IN THE ARCTIC! Seriously, the mild boost does feel a bit warmer, and I am thankful that it does. The problems, however, are these. 

1. Temperatures are not rising enough to melt the OLD snow that has fossilized around our cottage-on-the-green. We can seriously walk on TOP of 6 inches of snow, and we have been able to do that for weeks-going-on-months! We could live with this, but we received a notice from the homeowners association, AKA Gestapo, demanding that we remove the snow on the sidewalk in front of our home. 

G.E. is usually a stickler about removing snow from our driveway and  sidewalks in front of our house as well as that of 

"Workin' on the chain gang ..."

the neighbors’, but the last series of storms started on Sunday and kept falling for days leading up to Christmas. G.E. sees snow removal as an ox in the mire, so he is not above shoveling and snow-blowing on the Sabbath. That Sunday, however, was filled with meetings, and he only had minimal time to work on his duty to the community. Unfortunately, his wife doesn’t do snow and his “failure-to-launch” son was conveniently out of town – meaning he was up in Salt Lake. 

The point of this rambling is that the snow on the sidewalk was left to CURE. Removing it was a task like unto digging out concrete as you can see from the above picture. Had we enjoyed a TRUE January thaw, this chore would not have required a chain gang. 

2. Nearly every winter, the Wasatch Front attracts a high barometric pressure equal to the Iron Curtain that staves off any attempt of low pressures to push the bully aside. This results in trapped, dirty, hazy, disgusting air down here in the valley. Such air is bad for breathing and for morale. We all walk around coughing, wheezing, and moping. 

Before Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) sucks us down into the depths of winter oblivion, we must seek relief. One remedy is to get above the soup in the basin by driving up to Park City – except you are weak from the coughing and wheezing. Another help – a wimpy one, I admit – is to  find something good in the goop. And here’s my attempt. 

Fog often accompanies the haze – okay, I know that’s called smog – but when there is enough moisture in the FOG, Mother Nature coats trees and plants in hoar-frost. In spite of the creepy adjective, hoar, the effect is really beautiful. And on my drive to work Friday, I had to stop and snap photos of the frost because it really was lovely! AND because hoar-frost ALWAYS reminds me of Vienna.   

The pictures really don’t do justice to the scene of Bangerter Highway lined with frosted trees that elicited an “Ahhhh” from me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t click my CoolPix while zipping along at 60 mph, but I did pull off into a neighborhood, and, feeling rather like a snoopy private detective, I snapped these. 

Not exactly the Vienna Woods, but still eye-catching!

"The FROSTING is the BEST part!"

Nature's Lace

Even brambles are inviting!

Desert Hoar-Frost