Friday, January 5, 2018

Got Cold? by Jo Ann Brown

One of the fun things about being a writer is that we live in the future...even if we write about the past. We live with the next deadline and the next publication date, which usually are nine to twelve months apart.
But we also live in different seasons.
The first time I realized how this could affect me as a person was when I was working on a book set in the Yukon gold rush in 1898. My characters were going to be living through multiple months in the far north, including the winter months. I was writing the book in the midst of an August "dog days" heat wave. My characters were facing a “three dog night.” Remember the rock group by that name with their song “Joy to the World?” I was amused to find out the source of that name – that the night was going to be so cold that someone needed three dogs cuddled up next to them to keep them from freezing to death. So my characters were freezing, and I was typing in a heat wave. How did I feel in my house with no air conditioning and sweat dripping down into my eyes?
Chilled!
How is that possible? It’s because an imagination is a wonderful gift...and a very powerful tool. It’s one I’ve always used to help me with climate control.
My sister and I, when we were young and living in northern New York, would tell each other on our walk to the bus each snowy, frigid winter morning how warm we were. We’d point out flowers we were passing, discuss the color and the scent and the bees and butterflies. Again, imagination pulled us out of the freezer and made us feel less cold. Or it could have been the laughter as we each tried to out-imagine the other.
As I write this, a cold front is diving toward the southeast, and there are whispers that it may snow in northern Florida. Blizzards are forecast for the northeast, and fountains are freezing in Charleston, SC. More than half the nation is shivering in below zero temps.
So what’s the solution?
It’s not like we can change the weather on a whim, so the only thing to do is think warm. How? By reading a book with a tropical/warm-weather setting or by creating something with our imaginations. Right now, I’m working on a project with a spring setting, and I’m reading a book set in Savannah, Georgia. Both allow me to think of sunny days and warm breezes and beautiful bushes weighted down with flowers or fresh fruit. It’s the reason we love to read beach books in the winter and tales of the hero and heroine on a ski slope while the heat index heads toward 100+ degrees in the middle of summer. I read as many books set at Christmas in July and August as I do in November and December.





I came up with the idea for An Amish Arrangement, set in January in northern New York in an imaginary version of the town where I grew up, in the middle of the summer. I've written Christmas stories in the spring and the summer...but never in the winter. In fact, my writing is always a season or two off, so I'm imagining warm weather during the cold and vice versa!




That’s why my advice to you as the temps head toward record lows is to get something hot and chocolate to drink (with whipped cream, of course),pick up a good book and let your imagination take you to spend a cold winter evening somewhere lusciously warm. After all, spring and warm weather have to return sometime...right?

17 comments:

  1. Im reading ur blog in 24 degree celcius weather for down under summer, i get colder weather when i travel overseas, like went to new zealand in spring had to buy myself a scarf n hat n use the jumper i bought with me :), or when travelled to london in fall a few days before they had snow n my brother was like what are going to do n i said buy a jumper over if it snows for their spring weather #classic

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My hubby and I were thinking wistfully of taking a trip to the Southern Hemisphere when we saw the forecast for Florida this week. I laughed when I read about you visiting London before snow. We'd planned a trip there a few years ago (got an amazing package), and it snowed! So much fun to see the snow in Greenwich by the Royal Observatory!

      Delete
  2. Although it is very cold here as well, For the first time in years, we've had snow in Texas. What a blessing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I live in one of the few places where the temperatures have been above normal. I'm loving it because I hate the cold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, that sounds delightful, Merrillee!!! I hate the cold, too, but we've endured pretty much a whole week of below freezing. Looking forward to daytime "warming" into the 50s by early next week!

      Delete
  4. Jo Ann, I wondered for a long time, too, what "three dog night" really meant. With our recent overnight temps, though, I'd have to be buried beneath several big, furry dogs in order to keep warm. Yay for central heat and a kitty who shares his warmth by sleeping on my feet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But cats gain weight by the ton when they lie on top of the blankets. When we had two cats, we had to negotiate with them just to turn over during the night. LOL!

      Delete
  5. Lovely, Jo Ann, and so true! I want to be on that sunny beach, soaking up the warmth. It's so cold in GA!!!

    Stay warm!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love your teapot collection. Each so pretty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I went looking for a photo for the column, and I despaired of finding anything...until I remembered all the photos I took before Hurricane Irma for just in case insurance records. The photo made me smile when I found it. Not only because I had a photo, but because our house came through the hurricane with no big damage.

      Delete
  7. I love the idea of reading stories set in summer's heat during those chilly days when a warm blanket and a mug of hot chocolate (or tea) can help transport us to a warmer place.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi J Ann, interesting fact about Three Dog Night. Here in the PNW we’ve had a mixed bag of weather. Freezing temp, mild and rainy, and days sunny and warm enough for a only a sweater. Great teapot collection. I collect tea cups and saucers. I too enjoy reading books set in tropical places and warmer weather when it’s cold out. And winter book during summer. I always thought I was a bit odd. Yay I’m not.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jo, you're right. We're seeing different seasons. I remember in college I took an Astronomy class (which requires lots of Physics) and they said that in about 15,000 years, Christmas will be held in the summertime. I have a degree in History and am aware that the Sahara Desert once was a green, flourishing area with great bodies of water. Seasons definitely change, yet we are so surprised when it happens to our communities. I suspect it's because we have such short life spans. It kind of makes me sad that we only get to live 70-90 years if we're so blessed. See? You got me going on this topic. But I love the teapot collection and your yard is so pretty. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. My mother would have loved your teapot collection. She had one too. Now I do. I look forward to reading your book.

    ReplyDelete
  11. JoAnn! I was just thinking of a three dog night last night. A few years back I read a book with some variation of that as the title. It was written by a woman traveling in Pakistan or somewhere in that vicinity and she was talking about the measure of cold being based on how many dogs you needed to keep you warm. So last night as our wind chill dipped into negative numbers, I was thinking that we only had one dog to and he seemed as cold as we were.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, and I've played that mind game too - imagining sitting in a snow bank in the middle of a heat wave. What power our imaginations have.

      Delete
  12. I know Joy to the World by heart! I'm in sunny Arizona and always chuckled when I'm writing winter scenes. Luckily, I'm from Nebraska, so yup, I do not cold.

    ReplyDelete