mane glorium

“When all is said and done, the weather and love are the two elements about which one can never be sure.”
― Alice Hoffman

Mist drapes a barn roof, erases the base of a silo. The morning is darker than it should be, tinted in shades of wet slate and cooled charcoal. The lay of the land is obscured and well worn paths are disguised as shadows within shadows.


“The fog seemed to have a secret to tell her.”
– from a favorite early childhood book Fog Magic, by Julia L. Sauer

Mist is the way of the story. An uncurling of mystery. When I was eleven I wrote a tale about a girl living in a cemetery.


The other inhabitants of the fogbound cemetery kept her there, magically chained up. They liked having her around, a reminder of life in an otherwise sere world. They were kind to her in an odd, dead, way and brought her bouquets of dried straw flowers and ocher grass. She was only able to escape and run down the steep cemetery hill when she realized the chains were nothing more than braided mist.

family archive

Every story has a weather system built into it: cold fronts, breezes off a chill river, the glow of a half moon through storm clouds.

“What can it be about low temperatures that sharpens the edges of objects?”
― Ian McEwan


As I toil with my newest story I enter a very specific range of weather. Subzero. The type of air that burns your nostrils when you inhale. The kind of cold snap that turns eyelashes and eyebrows into silver filigree. Weather may not determine action – though often it does.

The wind shows us how close to the edge we are. ~Joan Didion

Whatever the season of the pages, ambient currents, the dropping barometric pressure, the patter of rain, and the crackle frost composes a soundtrack. A score resides beneath the dialogue and the action. A sensory-track: old leaves – their decayed undersides as slick and shiny as coffin lids, gathered clumps of cottonwood fluff as dense as molted fur. There are crisp shed skins of snakes or the discarded husks of plants. Wind gusts howl with a distinct rhythm. The insinuating whispers of a sharp breeze penetrate beneath sweaters. Even when they are not explicitly written, those smells and textures and sounds seep into the telling and construct the illusion of gravity within a world of words.


2 comments on “Keeping a Weather Eye

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *