Friday, April 8, 2016


For this year's challenge, my theme is The Fun in Writing. Each of my 26 posts for April is aimed at
illustrating fun parts of an author's day. A writer doesn't only write.
Creating a story or an essay requires research, revision, editing, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.

Two of the poems I wrote for Another New Beginning focused on the cold weather in Wisconsin. Often times, thoughts of winter bring pleasant thoughts of ice skating, hockey, and skiing. Those are memories of fun times. In this first poem, though, not so much:

A Hard Winter
Drag himself out of a warm sleep
Dress fast
Ice forming psychedelic shapes on window panes. 

Rush down the stairs,
through his parents’ bedroom to
the bathroom for his turn to wash and brush. 

Milk and hot oatmeal at the kitchen table
Mom pours orange juice, smiles encouragement
until the engine cranks outside. 

Over the chugging sounds, Dad calls,
“Get a move on Danny,” adding his mantra,
“The mail won’t wait.” 

At the post office
gather satchels of letters and cardboard boxes
filled with the route’s daily deliveries. 

Up and down country roads,
Slide envelopes into mailboxes, or tromp
through snow delivering packages to front doors. 

The old Ford with chained wheels
like a German tank; so cold, the bones ache.
Shivering to keep warm. Hot cocoa on his mind.

Grampa Baugniet worked for the hometown post office all his life. He had this fantastic car for delivering the mail, probably built in the 1930s. He modified it with a full set of chains, like an army tank, so he could plow through the heavy Wisconsin snowfalls.
I remember a picture of us kids standing on a snowbank that reached to the telephone wires. Snowplowing continually added to the bank’s height. But long winters kept the snow frozen in place for months.
During the time I was doing most of my family genealogy research, my father told me about how he helped his dad on the mail route. When I suggested it must have been fun, he said, “No, it was hard work. And in the winter time, it was very cold.”
In a town that extended seven miles into Lake Michigan, you can imagine the wind chill coming off the lake. That’s why it was easy to imagine my father having hot cocoa on his mind!

Hot Cocoa
Skating at the ice rink across from
the high school or the pond in our own
backyard. Swing forward, weave back, slice
left or right.
Race, glide, tiptoes, edges.
Into the warming house when fingers
grow numb. Thick mittens removed for
a brisk rub of the arms, stomping blades on
bare concrete, thinking
of whipped cream topping as frozen toes thaw. 
Return outside quick before body heat
makes you adjust to the cold all–over–again.
Play ice tag with three school mates. Then home,
tired, feet sore, stomach growling;
smiling, in anticipation. 
When I wrote the linking poetry, I wasn’t aware of my strong focus on sports. No surprise, though. We didn’t have videos, iPhones, or e-readers to occupy us. (I’m making up for it now!) We would never have considered watching television after school. Other than meal time, we seldom spent daylight hours inside the house unless the weather was bad.
As a young grade-schooler, ice skating at the rink across from the high school was a big deal. Part of the appeal was that I could walk to the candy store up the street. One day, I removed my skates and put my shoes back on, then hiked down to the store. Visions of penny candy danced in my head.
At the store, I tried to open the front door but it was stuck. I must have made quite a racket trying to get that door open because the candy store owner finally came and opened it for me. He lived up above the store. It was Sunday. The store was closed!
He let me come in to make my penny candy purchase, then locked up again as I climbed down the porch steps. I've always thought he’d been kind to do that for me.




  1. I am visiting from the A to Z Challenge Co-host’s Team. Hope you are having a great time reading, writing and networking with co-participants of the A to Z Challenge. Cheers :)
    Co-Host AJ's wHooligan for the A to Z Challenge 2016

  2. Thanks for visiting, Shilpa. I've been enjoying your Cultivating Happiness theme.

  3. Great story about ice skating and the candy man. Also, excellent images of winter in the Midwest. I'm in Minnesota. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. What fun to discover your blog. Someone from the Midwest, now in Hawaii, writing Aloha mysteries! Mahalo!
    I'm adding your blog to my feedly.

    1. Thank you for visiting, Mary, and for following my blog. I lived in Minnesota for 18 years and, yes, it is colder than Wisconsin! I remember the Guthrie, the Renaissance Festival wines, floating down the Apple River, and walks around Lake Minnetonka (and drinking at Moby Dick's down Hennepin way!)

      Gail’s 2016 April A to Z Challenge
      Theme: The Fun in Writing #226

  4. I'm originally from New England, and currently living in the south. I missed winter a lot this year. Thank you for the nostalgia!

    1. I've never missed winter since moving to Hawaii, and only visit up north in the dead of summer. Of course, I did enough cross-country skiing and ice skating to last a lifetime, so it's time to add as many years of sunshine.

      Thank you for visiting today.

  5. I, am like M.J. I am from Maine living in North Carolina-military moved us down south. I love winter's magic-it does last too long-some years. I now have Hot Chocolate on my mind~ It was heart warming to read-thank you!

  6. I live in Ohio, and the windchill and winter are killing me. I should move somewhere warmer... but hot cocoa is a good thing to have :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary

    1. Ah, yes, wind chill factors, I remember them well. Another thing I don't miss about "up north!" I hope all your snow melts very soon.

  7. This really made me smile as I sit here in Philadelphia watching snow pile up on the ground, in April.
    I made a cup of hot chocolate and read this:)
    Good luck with the rest of the challenge.

    1. So glad to hear you chose the chocolate route to cheer yourself with snow still on the ground. Even if you fearlessly enjoy the winter months, there comes a time to say, "Enough, already."

  8. Gail, all this snow talk goes right over my head. I live in Sydney and even though we've been skiing a few times, it hasn't really snowed properly while we've been out on the slopes. Being out in so much snow would be a dream if it wasn't so cold! xx Rowena

    1. That is the catch-22, Rowena, isn't it: no cold, no snow.


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