Happy New Year from the Deep Freeze

January in Minnesota is dreaded by many. People cling to the garden catalogs that begin to arrive by mail as if they were magic carpets that could rescue them from the snow that surrounds the mailboxes. Dreams of warm breezes, spring rain, and ripe leaf buds take hold as soon as the holiday decorations come down. Perhaps those sad evergreens newly stripped of their baubles and tinsel at rest alongside driveways and in alleys nudge people to consider new life…post-holiday blues, as it were. Or maybe it really is the mind-numbing cold that seems to descend along with the ball in Times Square on December 31. Whatever it is, dissatisfaction with the state of things is rampant for Minnesotans in January.

Not for me. I like the interstitial aspect of January in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s a Hallmark pause between New Year’s madness and the sappy forced romance of Valentine’s Day. There is something about this deep freeze that invites writers to write, painters to paint, cooks to cook, and….well, you get the idea. Having just finished my 100th poem (yesterday, in fact) in 100 days, I’ve already slated January for revision and research for places where I should submit work. Couple that with the fact that it’s cold enough to simmer pots of food on the stove without breaking a sweat and you have a mind-and-body-sustaining combination.

And that’s what artists of all kinds do well….find those spaces in which to create a reality that keeps them going. That it’s completely different from the reality for those around them is just plain fun.

DO A KIND THING
If you are interested in volunteering, you may have heard about United We Serve at Serve.gov. On its website, it says, “United We Serve is a nationwide service initiative that helps meet growing social needs resulting from the economic downturn.” In short, go to this website to find opportunities to volunteer in your own community. Or, if you are affiliated with a service organization, go to this website to register your agency and recruit volunteers. How easy is that? One-stop online volunteer information, managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service, just in time for the Martin Luther King, Jr., 2011 Day of Service.

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