Posted in Family, Travel, Writing

Cracking the Winter Chrysalis

heliophilic shamrock!

I often joke that I’m a plant–I need my sunshine! The shamrock in our front window (inherited from my Irish great-grandma, and a decade older than I am) responds so enthusiastically to sunlight that you can almost see its movement toward the light when we open the curtains. My daughter says she’s half-leprechaun, so maybe I’m half-shamrock.

I’m not a severe sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder (with its apt acronym of SAD), but a good dose of sunlight does have a measurable effect on my mood and energy level.

cat nap
Suzy & I agree: winter is for hibernating!

In winter months I tend to go into hibernation-mode, withdrawing into the snug sanctuary of homey coziness and physical comforts. This last winter particularly, my leap into writing-as-a-profession enabled me to burrow into winter-mode entirely unhindered by inconveniences like having to leave the house.  I retreated, as I habitually do, into my cocoon of soft sweatshirts, down quilts, and thick socks, with Suzy-cat warming my feet and the coffee-pot constantly brewing… and contentedly wrote all winter.

With the advent of warm weather, however, my Summer-Self emerges from the winter chrysalis. She’s more energetic, more active, more adventuresome, more sociable, less inwardly focused.  Summer weather has arrived rather suddenly to the Boise area this last week–and just as suddenly, I’ve got my toenails painted (for sandals!) and legs shaved (for shorts!), and the sandals and shorts themselves pulled out of the Rubbermaid bins where they’ve been hibernating…

Keoni and I were just reflecting that it feels as though our new year is beginning now, rather than in January. We’re entertaining fresh opportunities and enjoying fresh energies…

Keoni is moving around amazingly well since his winter knee replacement, and beginning to shed pounds again. (I tease him already that he’s literally “half the man he used to be”–500 pounds just a few years ago!–but he anticipates arriving soon at a weight he hasn’t seen for four decades.)

We’ve been shifting toward some healthier habits… from our habitual diet sodas to green-tea drinks, for example–and from smoking vanilla mini-cigars to “vaping” vanilla flavor from a Blu-brand e-cig… (It was the act of smoking, and the purposes to which I put it, that had me hooked more than the nicotine; this solution allows me to indulge in the habit without the hazards. And the kids–for whose sake I made the resolution in the first place–are tickled even pinker than my lungs!)

weed whacker & gardening gloves
gardening gloves–and a new weed-whacker! Last year Keoni was painstakingly using SCISSORS to edge the yard…

I’ve brushed off the yoga mat that’s been gathering dust in the storage shed, and we’re hoping to be able to buy a second bike this month and start exploring the network of trails in the State Park by our house. We’ve both gotten out our gardening gloves.

Keoni has completed an application in hopes of returning to his Corrections career–and we were heartened by a phone call from a top state administrator, who’d heard rumors he might re-apply, and phoned to urge his return.

I’m edging toward some new beginnings with my writing as well, contemplating the book that Keoni and the boys are after me to begin composing. And (as you see) the blog just got a facelift, seeking a clean-instead-of-cluttered look to accommodate the ads WordPress just authorized here. The sticky-note stack on my Mac is transmuting from writing-ideas into actual writing…

Idaho butterflyWe’ve started to plan our summer outings and adventures with the kids–a camping-trip to Craters of the Moon National Monument, a road-trip to visit Grandy & Boboo (my parents), a river-rafting trip with Grandy… Christian hopes to try horseback riding (luckily we know some cowboys) and wants to see Romeo & Juliet at the outdoor Idaho Shakespeare Festival.  Elena Grace wants to learn to snorkel, and Kapena wants to go to the summer football camp at Boise State University.

One of the “perks” of my writing-job is the fact that there’s no need to pay much mind to the calendar… So when Keoni and I first talked this week about the “new year” vibe we’re feeling, it didn’t immediately occur to me that Beltane is around the corner. It’s one of the Celtic cross-quarter days, a fire feast (the name of which, in fact, translates as “bright fire“), and a celebration of a new half of the year. The lighted half. A celebration of optimism, and abundance, and light.

And of course it’s natural that this celebration comes at the time when we are becoming sun-charged ourselves, busting out of the winter chrysalis with a new fire lit under us to venture out and find new stories for ourselves. It’s a few days early yet, but here’s wishing you a Blessed Beltane!

ready for adventure
Adventure-Ready: dusting off my Summer-Self. Yoga-mat, water bottle, iPod, camera, sandals, hiking hat, iPad (for maps & note-taking) and camera bag!


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

26 thoughts on “Cracking the Winter Chrysalis

  1. funny….here in AZ, I feel like starting the hibernation instead of emerging…it gets so hot! Lucky for me, it is still cool at night. I envy your writing job….looking for one of those myself! Loved your post!


  2. Holy metamorphosis, Batman! I wondered if I’d stumbled onto someone else’s blog. What a huge make-over!
    The Summer Self shift is an amazing time. One puts all the work of the Winter Self introspection and rest into action. And don’t forget Beltane’s celebration of sexual vitality!


    1. Oh believe me–that aspect of the celebration shall NOT go overlooked! ;) Vitality… and fertility, even… Hmm… :)


  3. I cant wait for summer, we had a mild winter and spring has been mild but now its cold again hopefully this will be the final hold of winters grasp


  4. I could not agree with you more! What a fun, inspiring post. It’s really true. Maybe that’s why I get frustrated with the Spring so much. Because it feels like the decline of the old year, even though it’s the beginning of the new…I sense a post coming on.

    And congrats to Keoni on the weight loss!


  5. I am totally a winter person (probably because the sun loathes me and likes to show it by turning me into a lobster), but I also understand the effervescence of springtime and keep Beltane as one of my favorite holidays. :) I feel the need to do something to celebrate it this year. I think I need some pagan friends in this area.


  6. I stepped out into our backyard this morning to let the chickens and ducks run free, and enjoyed just standing for a moment and listening to the birds in the yard…I love this time of year because I, too, get to emerge into the world and begin playing in the dirt again. BTW, I just noticed you said you are an ‘island girl’…aloha!


  7. As I read this post I thought again of your three owls: One precious totem for each bambino in the house? But then I read further into your comments about Beltane’s celebration of sexual vitality and your comment about fertility. Perhaps the fact that the owls were three and dead means an end to your “three” as in there could be a fourth? While sad that the owls were dead, how freaking cool to add a new life to your life?! I realize your brood already expands further than three, but you never know…..


    1. Love the three-and-three interpretation… I suspect that if another keiki were to join our household, another guardian would find its way to us as well–things just seem to work out like that. ;) We shall see…


  8. After such a mild but bland, dull-looking winter here, just the reemergence of color into the world is energy-inducing.
    I like your new look!


  9. Ahhh – the Fires of Beltane!!! … maybe they’ll chase this rain away. Had enough now. The lake is rising (rain and snow-melt is a heady combination in these parts) and our little bit of beach is under 30 centimeters (12 inches) of water.


  10. Enjoyed reading this. Congrats on giving up the cigarettes for the vapor one, too. Sounds like fun events coming up in your life. Thanks for sharing your inspiring writings. Started some gardening and need to do some more, too, so thanks for reminder on that. Take care. Sincerely, Connie Webb


  11. I have a Shamrock that I love to watch too. They are tough, long lived plants. Mine is over 35 years old and still stretching toward the light. A good reminder for me.


  12. Your post reminded me of a book I was re-reading recently: Byrd Baylor’s “I’m in Charge of Celebrations” and she says that her New Year celebration is usually around the end of April as well. “It always makes me think I ought to bloom myself.” Enjoy your un-cocooning.


  13. Bring on Beltane! I am so ready! Even though the days here are already longer and into the 90s, I still love the spring festivities!


  14. Boy, you really have emerged from your winter cocooning, with a vengence. I relate very well to your wintertime state of warm fleeces and extra socks. Our spring has been exceptionally long this year and although it is only May 1 it seems like we should be well into the warmer weather by now. Today is the first warmth in many days. We really do miss the sun’s rays if they are barred for more than a few days. And that decades-old shamrock! I have been known to kill plants within days! Although husband does have a cactus that he’s had for 50+ years. It’s only survived because it doesn’t need much sustenance.


    1. I have killed EVERY SINGLE houseplant I’ve ever had–except this one. No credit to a green thumb, obviously–I think it’s fear that great-grandma would haunt me if I killed her shamrock! ;)


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