I’ve always loved snow. As a teen, I lived Joni Mitchell’s fantasy by actually having “a river I could skate away on.” Toboggans, snowmen, snow angels embodied the fun of winter for every child. As an adult, I’ve held on to that fun by cross-country skiing and tramping around on snowshoes in Glacier National Park. One of my favorite memories is a lovely “conversation” with two deer that appeared neither frightened nor surprised to see me.

But, snow is an equalizer with regard to more than recreation. It is beautiful, and beauty holds an element of mystery for observers. I’m always reminded of that when soundless veils of snow sweep from evergreens.

Poets and authors use snow’s transformative ability to show how it can test mere mortals. Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” is a cautionary tale about what happens to those who don’t respect nature in winter. The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown, an account of the Donner party, conveys the same with horrors of cannibalism thrown in. James Meek’s novel, The Peoples’ Act of Love, includes the same taboo, but also makes snow symbolize the effects of the Russian Revolution which drove people to commit unspeakable acts to survive, or to rescue those they loved.

My favorite literary snowfalls come from Emily Dickinson and James Joyce. Dickinson acknowledges snow’s playful moods in “Snowflakes,” as well as its equalizing quality in her poem, “Snow.”

I’ll end with the close of Joyce’s story “The Dead.” The main character, whose wife has just told him she once loved another man, looks out on the snow-filled night, “…he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

Play in snow, appreciate its loveliness, but always respect its power and mystery.



by Ann Minnett

Today is November 12, 2013, also known as 11-12-13. Something stupendous should happen today because a consecutive number date will only happen once again in our lifetime–on December 13, 2014.

I digress.

Today’s date reminds me that I’m a numbers person. Data analysis was a crucial component of my life’s work. My writing back then consisted of making sense of the numbers and relationships between numbers. Numbers told the story of the data. But I’m talking about the significance of specific numbers in our lives. Birthdays for sure. Anniversaries. The date your father died. The date your spouse stopped drinking. How about a signal event for us all? Stephen King wrote a book entitled 11-22-63. The event accompanied by a date and reduced to a number.

Frankly, I entertain myself endlessly with license plate numbers, time stamps, temperature, and gas mileage. What fun to check the digital time and discover it’s my birthdate (2-22). The added fact that numbers possess color adds icing to my cake: 1 is white, 6 green, 9 black, 53 and 5 are brown, but 3 has always been yellow. Who knows what this means, but it makes me happy.

So here we’ve awakened on the morning of 11-12-13. Can’t you feel the promise inherent in this magical date? Don’t you, like me, believe that the day ought to hold significance in its 24 glorious hours, 1,440 minutes, and 86,400 ticking seconds?

Last week I heard the following question posed on Montana Public Radio: What if you woke up each day and expected it to be the best day of your life?

I’m betting on 11-12-13 as top contender for best day ever.

~ Ann

Ann Minnett MWW photoI’m also consumed with NaNoWriMo word count this month–ahead of schedule at 28,739 words so far on my third novel. Yippee!


Author: Betty Kuffel, MD

In the face of physical or emotional trauma, for some people resilience wins out. Rising from a low point of anguish, on a trajectory of strength they find the courage and ability to help others along the way to healing.

My dear friend, a concentration camp victim, survived starvation and two years in a camp infested with bugs, rats and cruel guards. Wearing rags, cold, sleeping on bare boards, exposed to disease and death daily, a small collection of female prisoners with little hope found happiness. One of my friend’s many recollections from those terrible years makes her smile when she tells the story.  At risk of death, the women wrapped tiny gifts in scraps of cloth tied with strings: a button, a bit of soap, a bite of food. On Christmas Eve, after exchanging their only treasures, in whispered voices they sang carols.

This camaraderie infused strength into their frail bodies helping to generate solidarity. A brighter attitude and gratitude for each other evolved that night during the darkest times.

From her, I have learned one should not worry about giving material objects during the holiday season. We have so much to give that requires no money.  As writers, we can share our skills  Your Heart Book Cover- Final 1with loved ones, or show gratitude to an individual who has made our lives better. Brighten someone’s day with a visit. Write a poem; write a special story; give copies of your books.

Today, my elderly friend remains resilient and her positive attitude prevails. She continues to  set a good example for those around her. One of her favorite sayings is: Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.  

The origin is uncertain, the theme is in many sources with variations dating back to 1225.

Gratitude with Attitude!

By Kathy Dunnehoff

Maybe we all have a picture in our heads of the ever-grateful doormat.

You know what I’m talking about. She’s the woman who smiles and says thank you with that eternal kick me sign on her back.

Well, I don’t think that’s gratitude at all. I think that’s lowering the bar on what we’re willing to live with, and using our thank you’s so we don’t have to speak up and say what we really feel… “I don’t think so.” “No.” or “Hell no!”

I think gratitude is a place of strength. To me it’s appreciating what’s both lively and nourishing in our lives.

Something I can learn from? Lively. Something I can relax into? Nourishing.

And with those guides, I’m grateful for my teenage daughters – lively! For the tea my husband brings me in bed every morning – nourishing. My writing life – equally lively and nourishing. And the Montana Woman Writers – two parts lively & 3 parts nourishing… a perfect combination!

Happy Reading & Happy Thanks- giving!


Spring break 2013

Dreaming of anything but buttermilk


By Leslie Budewitz

I adore the movie “White Christmas.” Love every scene, every actor, every song. Can sing most of them—but I’ll spare you. I watch it at least once every holiday season, to Mr. Right’s amusement—unlike him, I usually consider once enough for most movies.

You know where I’m going, don’t you, since this is November, the month of Thanksgiving and gratitude. To the scene in the Lodge where Bing and Rosemary bump into each other in the middle of the night, and sing “Count Your Blessings,” which got an Oscar nomination in 1954. “When I grow weary and cannot sleep, I count my blessings, instead of sheep.”

Sappy and corny as it is, it works. On those (happily) rare nights when Irksome Thoughts and Bad Ideas keep me awake, and won’t be quieted by me getting up to jot a few notes, I start first thing that morning and identify everything I’m grateful for. Start small. Really small. The pettier, the better. Be grateful for the warmth of your bed, the one you didn’t want to leave this morning, that feels so darned brick-like now. Be grateful for the toothpaste, that there’s still some in the tube, and that you actually remembered which flavor you dislike least last time you bought the stuff. Express gratitude that  you didn’t slide down the steps on your backside this morning when your slipper hit that thin spot in the hall carpet, and that you didn’t trip over the cat—why does he have to nap on the landing?—and crack your braincase.  I run back through the day that way, and rarely get past mid-morning before conking out.

Try it. I all but guarantee you won’t have to get up in the middle of the night, like Bing and Rosemary, for a song and a glass of buttermilk. (Okay, so there is that one thing I don’t like about the movie—but it is great in cornbread and scones!)

Readers, any tricks to share about those occasional sleepless nights? 

Death al Dente

Leslie’s first mystery, Death al Dente, is set in the fictional NW Montana village of Jewel Bay,and features a kitchen full of tasty recipes—none calling for buttermilk. Read an excerpt on her website,