It’s June in Florida. Hot and humid. The AC is running its heart out while the ceiling fans twirl in every room. When I step outside, it feels like I’m in a greenhouse. The weeds love it – you can almost watch them creep and crawl, latching on with a stranglehold to anything within reach. And the battle will continue until at least September (with them having the upper hand).
After a short skirmish, I gratefully retreat indoors. In sharp contrast to my Minnesota upbringing, summer has become an indoor time for me. I’m parked in front of my computer, working on my middle-grade novel.
It would be much easier if the setting was summertime in Florida. I could merely step outside and experience the sights, sounds, and smells. Seems I’ve never done things the easy way. No, this story takes place in Minnesota. In December.
So, I have to dig into my past. Back to the days of snowsuits, mittens, hats, and boots. I have to remember the layers and the time and effort it took just to go outside to play. If it was really cold, I wore a scarf over my face, covering everything except my eyes. I must have been crazy, right? Maybe. Truth be told, I didn’t give it a second thought. There was fun to be had out there, like snowman-making, sledding, skating, and snowball fights with my neighborhood friends. Staying inside wasn’t an option when the fun was out there.
As I write about my characters’ experiences, I have to remember time wasn’t measured by the clock, but by the fact that when my fingers and toes started to get numb, it was time to go indoors. I have to remember eating icicles and the taste of snow when I licked it off my mitten. I have to remember crisp, cold air in my face, making my eyes water and nose run as I steered my sled down the hill alongside my friends. Hot chocolate never tasted better than after time outside in the snow and cold.
The life I had with Minnesota winters ended years ago. The memories endure, etched like a design carved by my skate blades into the ice rink my father cleared with a shovel. That’s where I go, what I call upon, and lay down in my story. They are stronger and can endure anything – even the hottest, Florida summer.