Thursday, March 13, 2014

Shifts in Perception

Yesterday morning, Chicago woke up to yet another few inches of snow. So far this winter, we’ve had a total of 75 (ish) inches of snow—we normally get an average of 36 or so. It’s been too cold for the snow to melt, so it just keeps accumulating, making it difficult to get around. The past few days, though, have been warm enough to melt at least some of it, leaving crusty piles of filthy snow everywhere. Everyone here is so done with winter.

And yet, this morning, when I looked out the window to a fresh blanket of snow, I marveled at the beauty. This is, by far, the prettiest snow we’ve had all winter. The elements all lined up to allow the snow to accumulate on tree branches, the sides of fences, windows, and pretty much any surface cold enough to hold it (which is everything). It was breathtaking. So, after dropping my kids off at school, I went outside to take pictures…and experienced something quite interesting.

Most people were heading off to work and some were walking their dogs, but everyone was clearly disgusted with this new snowfall. And, when they saw me taking pictures, they either looked at me like I was crazy or dismissed me as a tourist. Because what Chicagoan in their right mind would be happy about more snow? Right?

Well, they would be right, and also wrong. I’m a native Midwesterner. I grew up through some wild snow storms, ice storms, power losses, buried roads and cars, etc. Even though we’ve had near record-breaking amounts of snow this winter, this is nothing new to me. I’m as tired of winter as everyone else, and can’t wait to put my snow boots away already! But, this morning was so gorgeous and peaceful that I just had to set those discontented feelings aside and enjoy the moment. I grabbed my camera and went out to celebrate the beauty.

I am hoping that this is the last snow that will stick, and that the temperatures will begin to rise so I can hang up my big winter coat. But that doesn’t mean I want to ignore beautiful moments like this morning. I get why some people might not be able do this, but it still makes me a little sad.

So, what does all this have to do with writing? Nothing. Not really. :) The only parallel is that our characters are just like the people who woke up to yet more snow this morning. Some hated it, some found it picturesque. Characters in our books react in the same ways, but we get more insight into why they react the way they do—we get to see the shift in perception over the course of the story. The character might have started out loving winter, but then grew to hate even the mention of snow. Or, the character might have started out hating winter, but then grew to appreciate the beauty in it. A character’s shift in perception is a part of his journey, and the reader needs to not only see it, but also understand it.

Anyway, in case anyone is interested, here are some of the pictures I took. Enjoy!




Brenda said...

I grew up in Southern Ca. and would probably cry if I woke up all that snow, however, like if I didn't have to go out, had a good book at my side, and a nice pot of tea brewing, I'd say it was beautiful (which it is, but I can say that safely from my seat here in Ca, where it's sunny with not snow in site.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I love snow, and even though we've had a lot this winter, I wouldn't turn away more.

When we come through crises, we appreciate the world around us more and celebrate all the little things, like fresh snow on tree branches. But if we do that without a crisis precipitating it, then people give us those funny looks!

Diane Carlisle said...

OMG, thank goodness I live in Florida, but the one thing I love about snow are pictures of it. Those are beautiful! Thanks for sharing. :)