THE LAWSON’S PEAK BOOKS

Brrr!

Well, here I sit and the winter has already been far too long!

I asked this question before and I repeat it now out of pure disdain: What is the use of living in the deep South if we have to endure winters like this? I always thought there was some kind of magical force field that protected the deep South from this kinda nonsense. Yes, I know, the bay froze once a long time ago, and there was that nine-degree day in the 1990s that killed my crepe myrtle, but those are the exceptions.

People therefore ask me, “What, you wanna live in the mountains and you don’t like the cold here?” Yes, that’s true, it’s colder in the southern Appalachians, but you know what? I can at least look out my window and see snow-blanketed peaks rather than brown mud-covered roads and road shoulders.

And I don’t intend to live anywhere near Billings, Montana, where it hit -17 degrees last week! No, much as I love the Rockies, that kind of cold is for the bears who have the good sense to find a hole in the ground to sleep until spring. My northernmost line of possible future abode is Asheville, North Carolina. They start skiing a little beyond that and any climate that supports skiing is a climate I will avoid like Antarctica.

Now, you probably all know I’ve never liked winter at all, though I appreciate the spirit of it. I have grown a little tougher over the years, but the cabin fever is already setting in and it’s only mid-December. By January I suspect I will be pacing the floors and by late March or early April someone will be fitting me for a straight jacket.

Naw, it won’t be that bad; if I am in an institution come spring, I won’t be able to make that first, long-anticipated trip to my beloved creeks in the Louisiana hill country and, later in the spring, back to those wonderful, ancient slopes in the Blue Ridge range. So sanity must be held onto by all means possible.

Bogie, our yellow Lab, had a big, stuffed pet pillow last summer. He loved it. He loved it so much he chewed the corners off. We scolded him at first, but the uncanny intelligence of the lad simply laid out a plan that he would chew the corners when we weren’t around. Eventually the pet pillow began to resemble road kill and I threw it out.

Since it was summer I didn’t worry about it too much, and when cold weather arrived I went get him another, cheaper one. Bogie was delighted, spinning and jumping with joy. But soon enough I started noticing the corners vanishing into thin air again. I caught him once or twice, fussed him badly, but to no avail.

One night I woke up to go to the bathroom and as I passed the living room I glanced over and Bogie was sitting there in the doorway with his head hung low and when he saw me he looked away immediately. Suzie and I know that this is his “guilty look” and so I went check and sure enough he had disemboweled his pillow completely. Furious, I picked it up and threw it outside.

Well, for the next week that dog made certain we were aware that he was not happy. He wouldn’t leave us alone. He’d stand and stare at us whatever we were doing, and during the night I’d wake up and feel like I was being watched. I’d peek over the foot of the bed and there would be Bogie, staring at me.

He’d follow us everywhere, and if he wasn’t following us or staring us down, he’d pace the floors incessantly, to the point where I was about to climb the walls. The constant click-click-click of his nails on the wood floor was about to drive me batty.

So I got some old sheets out of the shop that had long ago been relegated to “dog in the truck” duty when I had to transport him to the vet or something. These I folded and laid where his murdered pillow had been and almost lost a few fingers when Bogie leaped onto it, curled into a ball and didn’t move once until well into the next day.

No less ourselves; we tend to hunker down in winter and only venture out if we absolutely have to. Cold and snow is one thing; cold, misting rain and a gale-force north wind in south Louisiana is quite another. I remember having a guest from the far northwest who laughed heartily that it would be about 30 degrees when he arrived here, saying that it was 6 degrees at his home. Well, after about three hours in 30-degree weather with 98 percent humidity my friend declared, “This is the coldest 30 degrees I have ever felt!”

Welcome to Louisiana.

But winter’s the time I get lots of writing done, so that’s a plus. I’d like to say I’ve cleared the hurdles and am heading for the best sellers lists, but I’m not quite there yet. Still, I’ve accomplished a lot and built a bit of a fan base. I have five open projects right now. From 1992 until 2011 I wrote almost no fiction; now the ideas are coming like a stampeding herd of buffalo and I get a few words down and put it aside for later.

It occurred to me just a few days ago that of all the fiction I’ve written over my life, none of it ever was set in or even contained a single scene in winter.

I guess there’s some Freudian explanation for that.

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