neither inspiration, nor perspiration

Posted by on February 24, 2008

I’m not a jogger, but if I were, I would jog boldly into the frosty landscape and generate heat and energy within my cells to counter this terrible February indifference. I would shuck off the oppression of the overcast perma-dome above South Bend and feel closer to the remembrance of sun-warmth. But I’m not a jogger, and I also have a baby under my wing all day. I would take her on walks with the stroller, but although I can bundle and protect her core and appendages in warmth, this baby refuses to keep any sort of coverage on her little hands. On another foolish attempt at a winter walk yesterday, she looked down at her red little hands at one point with distress and said, “Cold?” She understands cold but somehow resists the concept of mittens, and chucks them over the side of the stroller each time they are re-applied. The last stressful stretch of the return journey were inevitably spent in tears, screams, arching back, and numb fingers. There will be no more stroller walks until spring, and I am so tired of being inside.

The stagnency of February always frightens me into thinking that I will never feel vibrant or artisticly inspired again. I took the above picture out of Esme’s window yesterday but it was only by a rote effort to capture an image. This tree is one that I see every day. At the beginning of the winter, when it first emerged leafless, I thought it looked charming, dotted as it is with little round, botanical spheres. But now anything I could possibly see out of any of our windows looks banal. My camera felt like led in my hands and the visual world has never seemed less interesting. I don’t like this, so I was aiming to get back some inspiration through perspiration. But even perspiration seems far from me right now, since I can’t find a creative way to exercise with a toddler, and, as aforementioned, I’m not a jogger. So I sit tight through this February. I hope the wheel that turns us into Lent will bring renewed interest.

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  1. Manuela
    February 24, 2008

    I think you have more inspiration than me at the moment. I like the picture. I hope the spring awakening will happen soon.

  2. Ser
    February 24, 2008

    Oh funny, Julia, because I was writing of my February writer’s block at the same time you were writing this, I think.

    I used to put Luke under the rain cover in the stroller, which would keep him warm enough when he removed his mittens.

    Also, I wrote a comment on your last post that I lost, somehow, but here’s a nutshell: I have a big family and love your description of yours. I would definitely read your book!

  3. Alishia
    February 24, 2008

    This is how I feel in the summer here in Arizona. Stifled. Oppressed. Stagnant.

  4. Julia
    February 24, 2008

    Alishia– I remember feeling this way when I lived in Florida during the summer. July/August there is the same thing as February here.

    Ser- I wish our stroller had a rain cover! Thanks for the writing encouragement.

    Manuela– you should just grit your teeth and do your photography. I bet something good would come out.

  5. anna j
    February 24, 2008

    Sounds to me, my dear, like you are in need of a vacation to the Cayman Islands 😉
    That said, I completely understand . . . and perhaps such sentiments are part of the reason why I am, in fact, such a running addict. At any rate, february is a long and dreary month for many in the Western world, and the mood that often comes with it is common to the human condition–if only that were consolation, huh?!?

  6. Julia
    February 24, 2008

    Anna, you are the one I think of when I think of running. I’ve always been a little jealous of you and your special, almost mystical relationship with running.

  7. Molly Sabourin
    February 26, 2008

    This winter truly has felt ridiculously long but in the “dryness” of cold,grey repetition, proofs of your authenticity as an artist seep through even your written admission of feeling claustrophic, blase and uninspired. You can’t escape it, Julia, the urge to create will haunt you indefinitely…please do write the book about your family.

  8. Jenny
    February 27, 2008


    What a beautiful image and apt description of winter. I can totally feel your exasperation about Esme pulling the mittens off her hands and then saying, “Cold?” while staring at the raw, red lumps they had become.

    Anna refused hats and was extremely particular about jackets, always preferring ones that were too thin for the weather. But she is so, so fashion conscious (in her own way) that these details could become knock down drag out fights.

    It got a little easier when she was old enough that I could give her a choice–like around 4, I started saying, “Anna, it is no problem for me if you want to wear this thin coat, but you might be cold. But you can choose to wear the thin one and be cold or the thick one and be warm. Amazingly she always “chose” warmth when I put her in the position to choose.

    But it is so, so hard when they’re to little to understand. I hope the rain cover works!