Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fire is burning me

More winter landscapes. Bored yet?

Sometimes, in winter, I am a wolf maiden. Not on days like today, a January melt, when the temperature zoomed up to 38 degrees and all of the icicles sank off the glass room. But when Shadow and I are roaming over the snow-scape, I can squint and imagine us hunting together 100 years ago, like some cliched truck-stop postcard. I started writing a story the other day about Little Red Riding Hood, not only because everyone seems to be revisiting old fairy tales, but also because those images—wolf, maiden, snow—are so iconic. Icon, as in those things the Russians worship.

I do not live alone, but there are evenings when I tend the fire by myself, when I'm responsible for keeping it lit. When I have to gauge the draft and the damp of the wood. On these nights, when I wander by my cold coiled light, and brushed steel computer, listening to Susana Baca sing, my dog coiled up behind me, and I feel like that. A winter woman and her wolf.

One Halloween, back in Chicago, I dressed up like a gypsy, full-on Mr. Rochester-style. I had all my scarves tied around my high-heeled boots, wrapped around my neck, in my hair. Black eyeshadow up to my eyebrows. I imagine, as she aged, the wolf maiden would have turned herself into something like that fortune-teller. I turn myself into her now. Draping my house with sari fabric and old Oriental rugs. Crocheting brown-striped afghans and consulting with my dog. One sees how the myth of the witch arrives.

But I'm just a girl living in the woods. Heating with wood. Trying not to let the winter drive her crazy. It comes close, some nights. Some nights it's between me and the winter—we're doing battle. It's the agon.

I'm drifting. Is it winter making me drift? I shore these things up against the cold: my daily walks with Shadow. Words. Music. Light and heat and fire.

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