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Feeding the Muse

By Johanna Smith

I nearly forgot to feed my daughter supper yesterday. (Keep reading.)

Before I had a child, that sentence would have meant nothing to me, because that was back in the day when I still said things like, “Her whole life is her kids. Really, she needs to diversify.” My ten-month-old (yesterday! Happy anniversary, Scout!) has been a lovelump on my chest for the past week and a half, ever since she started coughing like an angry goose, and carrying two green slugs-on-the-loose above her lip. My kid my whole life? Pretty much. Enough anyway, so that to forget to feed her right at dinnertime despite the howling of frustrated hunger/five o’clock boredom meant something significant:

a change in the light.

At some point over the past two cloudy weeks, the whole earth (the whole thing!) rotated without me knowing it, and suddenly there are still-bright puddles and dark shadows on my kitchen walls at quarter-to-six. Like one of our lilac bushes that knows when to start producing by the amount of light it gets everyday, I’d been unconsciously tick-tocking to a December/January clock: “Start making dinner when it starts getting dark.” Stuck in my winter rut, I was looking for something that no longer existed (evening at four-thirty, five) to give me my cue.

These longer days have salvation timing. My drive to create—dinner, clean drawers, a loving letter, a business plan, something great to wear, a cheerful home and self—my muse gets pretty anemic about this time of year.

In fact, she’s ready for a good potluck of shared ideas. Tell me, what do you do to keep your creative muse fed in mid-February? Forced bulbs? New music? A different color of ink?

And while you’re feeding her, I’ll go feed Scout.

About Johanna Smith

reminds us to feed our muse. Raised in the northwoods of Canada without electricity or a phone, Johanna’s biggest challenge when she moved to Utah to attend BYU was falling asleep with the sound of the refrigerator humming. She has a BA in Linguistics, dreams of making her own artisan cheeses, and refuses to let her husband spray chemicals on the lawn. She lives in Pocatello, Idaho, with him and their daughter on five weedy, beautiful acres.

10 thoughts on “Feeding the Muse”

  1. Today is day two that my running partner and I have forced ourselves back outside into the early morning cold air. We've been going to the track, which kind of makes you feel like a rat on a wheel, running in circles.

    So we've forced ourselves outside. It's dark and cold, but I feel more alive. I feel like maybe if I run hard enough, I can bring the sun up and make spring come.

    It's been very cathartic.

    (except that running inside on a flat track for so many months has made me a wimp, and now running out in the real world that is full of hills is hard!)

  2. I love this! This is how I feel! I have always maintained that February is the longest month of the year and it's only saving grace is that I start to be woken up by the light in my window and not my alarm clock. Between the extra light, and my sister-in-law's self proclaimed renual holiday (March 4th — think of the non-calader meaning of these words)the end of February brings the rebirth of the seasons and the rebirth of my resolve to be alive and not hybernating any more. The end of February brings hope – hope that potty training will be done soon, hope that the maple sap will start to flow soon, hope that the dear 8 year old will find another set of books to read out loud, hope that I can somehow find the energy to try to be a better Mommy.
    Thanks for your insite Johanna. I had forgotten to notice the light change myself.

  3. I count the days until the winter solstice every year. Even when February gets dreary it feels fantastic to me, because the days are getting longer.

  4. Mostly, my February is spent between trying to plan playtime in the slight amount of sun we are getting, and then repenting of the playdates when the next wee k each member of said play-party comes down with some puking, feverish virus. Repeat at least twice, and you have my February in a nutshell.

    I've been entertaining myself with a little bulb forcing– not really, but I am forcing a different color and fabric by learning to knit a little. Somehow, working with bright colors in winter helps me get rid of those terrible sinking blue feelings that attack mid gray afternoon. I always end up looking for crafting projects mid-February. Not baking, thats more March, but cutting and stitching and stuffing pillows and repairing things. Making things better. Let the crockpot cook dinner.

  5. Yesterday, it rained all morning, then mid-afternoon the sun came out. It was in the mid 70's by mid-afternoon. Today was sunny all day, and uncomfortably warm in a closed-up house. We opened the windows and turned on the fans.

    Here in the Gulf South, we have azaleas instead of lilacs. I bought a flat of local strawberries yesterday for $15, which will probably last us about a week. They will be my muse.

  6. My kids played outside yesterday. The house was quiet. That fed my muse…my muse to clean, my muse to work, my muse to sit in a stupor and enjoy. That is, of course, until I saw the oldest shove the youngest down a hill. Oh well, I'll take what I can get.

  7. Umm, I didn't realize until I read this that I think mine is starving. I have a few days to nurse her back to health before February and I think the fabulous anniversary date I had with my husband did the trick to kick me out of idle. We did temple sealings, ate at a nice non-kid friendly Italian restaurant (hooray for not having to find a high chair and a place to stow the folded up stroller) , and saw a movie where we held hands and shared smuggled in treats. It wasn't fancy, but it was so much fun to celebrate that we chose each other. I have new found energy to feed the muse. Now if I could do more than muse about what to do with that energy . . .hmmm.

  8. it's sort of sad, but cookies. i make loads and loads of cookies.

    i find it so jarring the trick that the blue sky plays on me: that it's warm out when it's not. that what appears like spring through my window will greet me with frigid temps at the back door. regardless, i bundle up my kids and we still go outside and we relish the sunshine– it's warmth still weak but it's possibility there. soon. so soon it will be summer.


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