1/31 The air is so still that contrails remain in the sky for hours. They streak from horizon to horizon, sometimes crossing each other, like chalk marks made by a careless baby cloud.
1/30 At the checkout line, a toddler with angel hair sits in the cart, counting the letters of the store’s name printed on the handle. Twisting backward, he hands each item to the clerk, and watches enthralled as she pours mama’s coffee beans into the grinder. And I think, for him it’s all small stones.
1/29 Nuthatches aren’t just capable of feeding upside-down, they prefer it. Even on a brand new feeder with no competition, no wind, they perch and feed tail-side up. Why, when their digestive system points the same way ours does?
1/28 Hundreds stood outside the Wisconsin state capitol on the cold night of the governor’s annual address, celebrating 1,000,00 signatures on the recall petition against him. The band drummed out “This is what democracy looks like.”
1/27 A spinning suncatcher lets loose armies of miniature dragons.
1/26 It’s been a long day, and to be honest I haven’t noticed a bloody thing. In about two minutes I’m going to notice how excellent it feels to lie down and fold myself into the blankets.
1/25 Mike the cat sticks his bald rump out the shower curtain, and tilts his head to lick at the dripping faucet. Ah, me! Ill-favoured things, but mine own.
1/24 Two hours before the food pantry opens, a jovial crowd already occupies all the sofas and benches of the community center. A round old man in a Packers jersey crochets a blanket-sized American flag, and offers a greeting whenever newcomers open the door.
1/23 Wind heaves the branches in perfect cadence, rising and settling with an even rhythm, like the breath of a god.
1/22 Railroad track metaphor: Two black lines stretching across the white, though doggedly parallel, may meet in an imaginary place called east; two people determined to flaunt their differences may find understanding through the persistence of shared time.
1/21 A rabbit was waiting by the bus stop. Probably not for the bus.
1/20 Snowball fights aren’t allowed on school grounds, so kids make up for it at the bus stop, creaming each other with haphazard lumps of mooshed powder. Everyone gets on the bus with a dusting of snow, as if white moss grew on their hats and jackets.
1/19 Zero (-18 C) with shocks of north wind is bearable under four layers, but my fingers, toes and face are cold. Then a hot flash arrives. My back sweats, my chest and arms prickle, and warmth spreads out to every toe and finger. The blessing of menopause!
1/18 Three crows pecking through rows of corn stubble that cut through half a foot of snow: an expected Wisconsin scene, remarkable only in that I witnessed it while walking to the supermarket on a city sidewalk, granny cart in tow, Amy Winehouse on the iPod.
1/17 I’m trying to remember what it felt like to kiss my husband, and to be kissed–his hands on my waist, Viking beard brushing against my chin, the baby hair I used to love to touch, the arrangement of noses. But the part about the mouths escapes my memory.
1/16 The little boy who used to live in this house, the one who liked to nail plastic soldiers to pieces of wood and then burn them, has vanished. In his place, there’s a window sticker that says PROUD PARENT OF A SOLDIER–a gift from the recruiter.
1/15 The gypsy psychic from down the street came in with two sisters and a niece to buy evil eye charms. Pulled a wad of $100 bills out of her cleavage. The niece bought something too, incense I think. I gave her the change and she said, “I don’t do pennies.”
1/14 The lake has frozen, but the words “smooth as ice” don’t apply–it’s all chunks and froths and glazed rocks. As if a woman dashed a glass of milk at a wall, and some photographer caught her rage at the moment when glass shattered and milk exploded.
1/13 Parked cars huddle together, each one padded with snow and wipers akimbo, like mechanical snowmen embracing a blizzard.
1/12 Somehow a yard of black cloth has snagged itself on a branch of the neighbor’s tree, where it dances like an emancipated ghost on the snow-flavored wind.
1/11 As I put away the groceries, piling spinach and lettuce and two kinds of kale on top of an already-loaded bin of vegetables, I think (not for the first time) that refrigerators are not designed for vegetarians.
1/10 Awakening warm from a nap in the sunshine, I’m fuzzy and useless as a cat.
1/9 Someone has placed a handmade sign on a rock, right next to the entrance to a path through the woods. It’s a prism-shaped wedge of concrete set with broken pieces of colorful tile, spelling out the word LIKE.
1/8 Anything that adds, also subtracts: years, stuff, children, knowledge, art, charity, beauty, recognition, chocolate, travel, words, chances, husbands, wine, virtue, choices. . . Anything. Except, maybe, imagination.
1/7 The nail on both of my ring fingers is flat, not rounded. When I first examined my newborn sons, I was delighted to see they’d both inherited my “Frankenstein fingernail.” I knew they were mine because they shared my imperfection.
1/6 It’s oblong, with a deep green rind and pit. The inside flesh is smooth and yellow, almost orange. It tastes a little like a mango, a little like grapefruit, but with a touch of salt like an olive. I just now invented it, and it’s very tasty.
1/5 I keep a clock on my writing desk, a gift from my husband. It’s ceramic, the Roman numerals on its face encircled by flowers and a rosy-cheeked fairy. The hands never move unless I move them. Most clocks tell heavy time, but time on this clock is light.
1/4 I call him Spoonman. He rides in the back of the bus, an illustrated book about anatomy designed for older children open on his lap. All the way downtown, he waves a spoon over the book–a white spoon, which he holds by the bowl. Every single day.
1/3 Hoo-hu-hu-hooo; hoo-hu-hu-hoo-hooo: Feathered notes hover before frozen dawn.
1/2 The ice on the sidewalk is slick but lumpy, like the glaze on iced oatmeal cookies. On the way to my bus stop, I use the neighbors’ fences, shrubbery and retaining walls to pull myself along, hand over hand, letting my boots slide.
1/1 The avocados love to be placed in the dish with D’Anjous, because then I remember to call them alligator pears.