Sunday Things: Winter Storm Luna

I ask my daughter to look up information on the internet about the ice storm headed our way as I make lunch. “It’s Luna!” she says “Winter storm Luna — what a beautiful name for an ice storm!” She is enchanted and I agree — a beautiful name for such a deadly force of nature. reports that “Meteorologists are monitoring a significant ice storm tracking through
the Midwest. This storm will cause substantial travel problems in the
Midwest this afternoon before shifting into the Great Lakes tonight. The
threat will even turn into the mid-Atlantic and parts of New England on
Monday.”  Source

Outside my windows the ice storm makes her first shy appearance in a swirl of white snowflakes as big as pearl buttons mixed with ice pellets that look like Venetian beads and shattered Swarovski crystals.

I made tomato soup this afternoon, from the tomatoes I canned this fall. Freshly risen bread is ready to be put in the oven. Tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches on a cold winter day always remind me of Connecticut.

Before my family moved (after my father’s death) to Florida and long before my family got scattered to different parts of the country, we lived in Connecticut and were marked, I think, with a love for sharp winds that blow in desolate places.

On the phone with my sister, Terry, I tell her, “You should see me all bundled up. Layers and layers; a down vest, a ski jacket and another ski jacket on top of that, two scarves, a hat and gloves!” She says she is imagining me looking like I did as a toddler all wrapped up against the snow.

“Do you remember when Mother would hang the laundry on the line outside and when she brought it in it would be so stiff, so frozen, that she could stand it up by itself?” Terry asks. “She would stand a pair of pants up to lean companionably against a shirt, do you remember that? Do you remember when she would make snow ice cream? How magical that seemed?”

I do remember those things. I remember the first time I saw snow, my big brother Tommy on my right and my big sister Terry on my left, both of them connected by holding my hands. “You can walk on it!” Terry said. “If you sink in we will pull you out.” Tommy assured me. And so the first time that I ever ‘walked on water’ was with the two of them.

Everything seems magical to me now about a time when we were all together.

The 2013 Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Why would you want to be outside in the biting cold weather from now until February 3? The 2013 Saint Paul Winter Carnival is here with the following compelling reasons (and don’t forget hot chocolate!):

  • Juried art show!
  • Ice sculptures!
  • Free ice skating!
  • Torchlight parade (Saturday Feb 2)!
  • Much more!

Find out more, dates and times for events and entertainment, at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival website. See what the excitement is about and maybe you, like Persian poet Hafiz, will catch the happy virus.

The Happy Virus
By Hafiz of Shiraz

I caught the happy virus last night
When I was out singing beneath the stars.
It is remarkably contagious —
So kiss me.

Tea Time

By Annette Marie Hyder

The snow is a white linen cloth on the table of the field
whose many dips and hollows are the cups and saucers
into which the sky pours hot sunshine.

Steam rises.
I’ll take mine with lemon and sugar please.

Roe v. Wade 40th anniversary

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. SLATE Magazine has a list of states competing to ban legal abortion first: Happy Anniversary Roe v. Wade! Here Are the States Competing To Ban Legal Abortion First.

There is an interesting article over at Jezebel, How Jane Roe Went from being a Lesbian Pro-Choice Icon to a Straight Born-Again Anti-Choice Activist.

And I have a previously published essay for you, “The Legislation of Flowers”.

Drops of Red, by

The Legislation of Flowers
Annette Marie Hyder
Originally published in Blue Fifth Review

If this were an allegory written to illuminate the abuse of women through the symbol
of flowers – if I wanted to show, in a story, the way that the intrinsic and multitudinous
beauty of women is destroyed over and over again in so many ways and in every land
 – then scenes of fields of flowers being wantonly plucked and tossed aside to wither
for no purpose, no reason, would bloom upon this page.
I could fill this page with images of a global flower field being invaded by corsage crazy
pickers raggedly ruining in a rampage of greed for dominion until the petals bled in all
their colors and the page reeked with the perfume of loss.
In asides, I would remind you that flowers are the secret essence of life – the quickening,
the blooming, the ripening and the withering – in more than metaphor.
Flowers attract, brighten, perfume and carry – the seeds of the future within them and
in spreading their petals and allowing the sharp tongue of bee’s exploration/bird’s
exploitation/wind’s dalliance and various other utilizations of their secret language which
is rich in propensity to procreation – they plant the continuation of life firmly with their
Chloris touch.
I could mention that there are forced bulbs – brought to maturity through artificial means
and before their time. I could talk, also, about those hothouse creations manipulated into
colors more vivid and shapes more fantastic than any that can occur in nature (as if those
natural shapes and colors were not wonderful enough). I could tell you about the isolated
life that the gilded lilies live in their rarified atmospheres.
If I wanted to illustrate the way that our culture can shape us – I might record the songs
sung by those cultivated flowers – the shivering song of misery that is beautiful to hear
because the flowers are beautiful and can’t help producing beautiful music with their tulip
throats, their rose lips, their marigold whispers and creamy gardenia sighs – tell you how
the hothouse workers hear the heavy droning of bees loaded with pollen thick with honey
 – making and quivering with the desire to plunge in that song and how the hothouse
workers take that song home with them in their heads – wondering where their humming
of pleasure and the quick use of their mates comes from and reveling in the drive – the
bustle, the alive and thick with satisfied confidence – that honeycombs their minds.
I might pontificate on crystallized edible petals that are used for garnish in gourmand
recipes – with “garnish” being as of little consequence other than to enhance the main
(I don’t have to tell you about the addictiveness of Poppies or the danger of Melicore – or
that Bella Donna is a poison and a cure.)
I might tell you a parable of the three wild flowers – Maidfern, Matronbloom and Wintercrone.
But what I really want you to think about when I am talking about the beauty and utility of
flowers is this: that women are not flowers.
We are not flowers. We are not for your picking, your clumsy vasing attempts in which you
sort order by the studious arrangement of us, we are not to be forced or permutated to
your ends.
We are something better than the lilies of the field, bouquets of symbolism, perfumed nights
and exotic colors, delightful garnish and purposeful receptacle for insect/bird/bee.
True, we are carriers of life, and it is only fitting that we should bear that life – but at/in/under
our own proper season – one of those seasons being “not now,” one of those seasons being
“not at all.” The decision is solely our own – not to be governed as if by some strict
“horticulturist’s” code – not given over to the winds of politics or the rains of propaganda – not
legislated according to a potpourri of misinformation and a misguided desire for one group to
impose their ideas of how woman should be – whether aesthetically or procreatively.
Let there be no legislation of our bodies/our “flowers”/ourselves. We are fecund and we wish
to remain so – but free.
One “flower’s” opinion.

Happy Inauguration Day 2013!

Even the astronauts in space took note of today’s inauguration of President Barack Obama. The astronauts took photos of the US capital from their perch in the heavens and you can read about it at Astronauts See Obama Inauguration Site From Space

Inaugural address

During his Inaugural address, President Obama emphasized equality:

is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.
For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and
daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not
complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else
under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love
we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not
complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the
right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way
to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a
land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are
enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our
journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of
Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know
that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm. ” –
Barack Obama during today’s Inaugural address

You can watch the entire Inaugural address here.

Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco

There have only been, in the entire course of the history of the United States, four other inaugural poets. Richard Blanco brings the total to five.

From PEN America:

“Kennedy introduced the concept in 1961 by asking Robert Frost to read
an original poem at the inauguration, and Clinton revisited it by
choosing Maya Angelou in 1993 and Miller Williams in 1997. Elizabeth
Alexander read at Obama’s 2009 inauguration, and now we’ve exhausted the
entire history of the title.”

Richard Blanco is, at 44 years old, the youngest person to ever serve as inaugural poet. He is the first immigrant, first Latino, and first openly gay person too.

His poem, “One Today”,  speaks to unity and the American Experience. Here is a transcript of his poem, courtesy of ABC News:

“One Today”

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper — bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives — to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches 
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind — our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me — in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound 
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always — home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country — all of us —
facing the stars
hope — a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it — together.

Games in the dark

Photo Annette Marie Hyder

Our electricity went off on Saturday. A power line fell and knocked out the lights for our entire building and the building next door to us. It’s frightening being without power in the middle of winter in Minnesota.

The bread I had been making had to be allowed to rise, and rise, and rise in the dark. When I was finally able to bake it, it didn’t taste as wonderful as it usually does. Maybe some of the dark seeped into the grain?

But the bread was the only thing ruined — not the whole Saturday. Our entire building rallied and found ways to make things brighter,
whether by impromptu bar calls or flashlight get-togethers. We lit candles and played UNO in the flicker-lit darkness until the lights came on.

And on the subject of flickering sparks of light and matchsticks, check out this link to Environmental Graffiti’s article, 15 Incredible Creatures Born from Burning Matchsticks.View the entire gallery of startlingly beautiful images at the link!

Photo Stanislav Aristov

Sunday Things: Remembering

Sometimes the best thing to curl up with on a cold Sunday is a warm memory.


By Annette Marie Hyder

you take me to the deepest water that is still along the shore
where shadows from the trees touch the water
and their black fingers point to fish that hang suspended in the depths
while shafts of sunlight illuminate said fishes’ stance
they are stunned by pleasure found so close to hand
are lulled in sunbeam filled aquatic trance
i float above them in your boat
as languorous and still-surprised as they
at the unlooked for pleasure of your company this day