End of YakTraxia by Janine M. Donoho

End to YakTraxiaWhat does spring mean to you? For us the season of YakTrax draws to its annual end. The timing’s good; my Pro-Trax have sprung a few coils. The snow-laden roof will release the flying squirrel toy lost since December. Earth’s bones begin to emerge from beneath ice and our winter cave can use a good airing.

Connor racing to tall about the eagles' returnLast week a major melt began, punctuated by hail last night. Like the rest of our planet, we’re experiencing cockeyed seasons. This thaw arrives earlier than usual. Other than crafting sustainable choices on a personal level, what’s a citizen to do? I order more vegetable, fruit and flower seeds from Swallowtail Garden, then go for a hike.

Dependent upon temperament–or which leg of the ramble we’re on–our pack treads on either remaining snowpack or The boys of my packemerging soil. Both can be fraught with risk. Slush engenders a new dance step: one-step-forward, half-a-slip-back. The percussion of cascading drips from Ponderosa pines enhances our unique tempo. Meanwhile treading upon saturated moondust–yes, the yummy brown of my fave dark chocolate–gobbles an entire boot. Sucking sounds accompany language picked up while testing Naval ship systems. The boisterous aroma of fertile soils and emerging plants combines with this.

One of bald eagle pair on snagSongs of returning birds add delight. A persistent pileated woodpecker competes with local black bear on who can peck or gouge the most insect larvae from a downed pine. Later in spring the same woodpecker will perch on our metal roof at sunrise and broadcast his mating vigor–think jackhammer. Our whippet informs us that the mated pair of bald eagles has returned–Connor insists upon yelling at them. Then at dusk I hear the wicka-wicka-wicka of a Northern Flicker. Anticipation warms me.

Iggy in rotting snowNow my break’s over. Back to editing FORGED IN MIST, book 2 of MISTBORN CHRONICLES. I’m over half way there–and spring comes.

Into the Cave by Janine M. Donoho

Don’t you love caves? Frissons of excitement and danger key us into the secrets those dark places hold. What critters might inhabit the depths? What precious veins or rare nuggets formed by geological shifts? As a youngling, I lived to explore old silver mines and vacant dens. These were my favorite haunts. Caves tickled my curiosity, perhaps in part because such journeys were expressly verboten. However, the urge to explore felt primal, even crucial.

As a creative being, journeys into more existential caves continue to thrill me. Winter in the Okanogan Highlands offers the perfect time to spelunk through inner spaces. During this season of deep powder, arctic continental temperatures and yes, brilliant sunshine, mind caverns open. Despite my varying ability to be a social creature, my luxurious cave is where I want to be.

Not only does winter allow me to stay in my thermal jammies and wool socks most days, but the season encourages me to go deeper within myself to explore story. Somehow, when the spring thaw arrives and snows melts, external pressures from gardens, social life and community make the writing process more time-specific. However, as the highlands go dormant and freeze over, that’s when inner realms beckon. Cave time often turns into my most prolific. As an added fillip, unique archetypes come into play.

Think of Orpheus, who went into the darkest cave of all to find his beloved Eurydice, only to lose her when he failed to resist one last look. Or Ursus spelaeus, the original cave bear. One of my favorite books was CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR by Jean Auel. How cool were those Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons? In an alternate universe, you see, I’m an anthropologist…

So here’s the plan. This winter my completed high fantasy trilogy proceeds through another editing cycle. Then off the series goes to my chosen publisher. Writing the rough draft of my Earth Elemental, which has perked for years, comes next. Then if global climate change provides an extended winter, I may dash madly into my Fire Elemental, too.

For now, my friends, enjoy your time in the cave. Come spring, we’ll burst into the world with a fresh perspective, joyful energy, and stories we can attribute to our winter sojourn.

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

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