It’s hard for me to let go of winter. In December, our three-year-old joined her Yankee parents in embracing the snow storm. She mimicked the main character in her favorite book, The Snowy Day, as she marveled at her snowy footprints, tapped the snow off trees with a stick, and inexpertly packed snow together to form snowballs. Nearly every day since it melted she’s proclaimed confidently, “It will snow again!” At first I nodded in agreement, but now I shake my head and say, “We’ll have to wait till next year.” As I approach my sixth year in Durham, I realize I haven’t lived in North Carolina long enough to gauge whether these short, wacky winters are typical or getting wackier because of global warming. I fear the latter, and it makes me mad.
Early spring also triggers a certain flavor of grief for me. My mother died seven years ago in February. The change of seasons reminds me how angry I got at the daffodils and crocuses that insisted on blooming that first spring. I still get shocked – and angry – that my mom is gone and that so much life has continued. By the middle of spring, I feel refreshed by the warmer days, but it takes me a while to work through my feelings of resistance. Having a three-year-old, we talk about Big Feelings a lot. I try to model recognizing and honoring feelings, while not getting stuck or swept away by them. It’s a daily practice!
Our 2019 essay contest winners do a wonderful job exploring this balance. This year two essays have tied for first place, “The Courage to Say No,” by Joan Tilghman and “Dispatches from the Front,” by Mindy Oshrain. Writing on the theme “Holy Anger,” the essayists do a beautiful job wrestling with anger at injustice, while working to stay grounded and loving in the fight for what’s right.
Special thanks to the essay contest judges (who also serve on the RCWMS Board of Trustees): Cathy Hasty, Márcia Rego, and Rebecca Vidra.
We’re offering programs this spring that may help “turn anger into a clarion call,” as Oshrain invites us to do in her essay. Carol Henderson will lead writers to imagine different paths their life might have taken or might yet follow this March in “What If? A Writing Workshop.” Pat Boswell and Terry Moore-Painter ask “What Will You Do With the Rest of Your Life?” during a day-long workshop at the end of March. And after a successful run last fall, “Doing Our Own Work: An Anti-Racism Seminar for White People” is returning in March and April. This time Melanie Morrison will be joined in her facilitation by Jax Lee Gardner.
Whatever your feelings about this season or what’s going on in the world, it can help to come together and share.