Comments on the question : What are your most memorable winter moments ?

Laurie Hanslin Says:

Hi, my name is Laurie. I live in central New Hampshire in a small town called Grantham. The month of January was special to me because I became “Hestia, goddess of the hearth”. I had to stay home to feed the wood stove all day while my son was in school, so it would be warm when he came home. It gave me a sense of purpose, doing something so simple. But what a wonder it is to come home to a bright fire in the woodstove and a warm home. So, my life became simple in January. Now that it’s warming up, Hestia can go out more often and the house stays warm enough. Pretty soon, Hestia will have hardly anything to do at home and will be tootling all over town.

Sona McCullough Says:

This winter has been special in so many ways.

Firstly, I have begun to realise that our family of four (five including our cocker spaniel puppy!) are going to put down roots. We are renting at present and when we moved to Norfolk, England last summer it was my 8th move in 9 years. My husband and our young daughters are all settling into work and school and we live in an area of such beauty, surrounded by open farmland and the sea. Nearby is one of the oldest Marian shrines in Europe which in medieval times was mentioned alongside Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela and now is hidden and humble, with a tangible presence of Our Lady.

(Of course the downside to putting down roots, is trying to motivate myself to do postal redirections, when we hope to buy a house and move for the 9th time in 10 years!!)

Secondly, my new year’s resolution was to do something creative each month. And for January that meant going on a bread making day course: I had no idea that my body would dance to the rhythm of the dough as it was kneaded and that I would find myself breathing more deeply. A wonderful experience for all five senses.

Thirdly, (as three feels a more complete number!), this winter has been a special time of letting go: not pushing myself so much, not having others’ expectations as my benchmark, not worrying about all my unanswered emails. I don’t feel so ruled by a daily to-do list and in the world’s eyes haven’t achieved so much but know something more of me will emerge at the appointed time.

Thank you Catharine for the question 

Laurie Says:

Hi. This is Laurie from New Hampshire again. It’s mid March and still very much winter time. We have run out of wood for our woodstove and we are not the only ones. It’s become quite a talk around town, how people have used up their firewood and winter still goes on. …

The maple buckets are already out on some trees, but it’s still cold enough to need the woodstove going. This will be a winter I will remember. It’s the first time we’ve run out of wood before the snow even starts to melt.
Isabella McCullough Says:

Hello! I am Isabella. I am 6 years old. I live in Norfolk. I go to a school called Greshams and I am in Red house; it’s my favourite school in the world!

Here’s a poem about why this winter was memorable:


In winter my dog arrived,
He is called Jack.
Mummy gave me a game of charades
and we played it having supper.
My uncle came to visit,
Uncle Richard is his name.
Christmas we spent with my Nana and Grandpa.
We did not get any snow and I was
hoping to go sledging. .
But now it is springtime and the daffodils are blooming!



  1. 1
    ssstephaniep Says:

    Catharine writes :

    Dear Laurie,

    Thank you so much for this interesting response, part of an ongoing conversation. This has indeed been a winter to remember for many reasons. I am immensely touched by the fidelity of so many people in responding to this blog, began by Neil and shared by all of us.

    ”The Lines are still blazing” is the tittle of a book we are working on for next Christmas. It will contain pieces on Neil’s writing and the writing of others about him.

    Alan Hustak, veteran journalist and author, is bringing all this expertise to bear on the production of this book, a huge task. He knew Neil for 50 years and has written a vivid piece to introduce the volume.



    Dear Sona,

    A lovely piece. Memorable. Imagine dancing in the rhythm of baking bread. My heart dances as I read.

    Amazing the power of a question. You mention the power of this question about writing, the effect it had in clarifying your own thinking. It came out of the blue, as I described, from that 15 years old student, sitting with her teacher, Sarah Quilty, and a group of other students from Northern Ireland.

    Your piece makes me wonder :

    Is writing in our blood, like you baking ? Or its some artistic creativity, unique to each of us ?



    Dear Isabella,

    I loved every moment of your poem from dog to daffodils. It was so vivid and alive. Thank you for sharing it to inspire others.

    Best wishes,


  2. 2
    laurie Says:

    Hi Catharine and everyone else on this blog. It’s Laurie in New Hampshire. It’s still pretty cold and windy here, but we have decided not to use the woodstove. Winter should be over and so it is, for us. My son re-arranged the living room furniture for it’s summer position, which is lake-centric, facing out the large windows so we can look out on the lake. In the winter, our furniture – and lives – are woodstove-centric; all furniture huddles close around the woodstove. We even keep the curtains closed in an effort to keep some more of the warmth inside. But now, the curtains are flung wide open and outside we can look out on the lake, delighted that it has finally thawed. The loons are even back already. I just saw one of the couple yesterday. They always come to our little cove first because it thaws more quickly than the larger part of the lake. So, we in this little cove are lucky; we are the first to hear the call of the loons. So, it is official, winter is over. The ice has melted, we have moved our furniture away from the woodstove, so all backs of chairs and couch are against the woodstove. It’s season is over.

    I love this time of year because there are not yet leaves or even buds to obscure my view of the lake. I can even see the covered bridge from our living room window. It’s also a nice time of year because it’s quiet. The vacationers have not yet arrived, the black flies are not yet out, and mud season is over. It’s a nice pause, a spot of time I always enjoy. The song birds are back, joyful as ever, and besides their singing, there is a nice quiet over everything.

    I’m relieved to be no longer tied to the woodstove. I can go out. I’m free. What a trudge it was this winter. We, like most people in town, ran out of wood too early and so there was a wood-buying panic at the general store. But at least we could get wood.

    Isabella, we do not yet have daffodils. But the heaps of snow are almost all melted and I saw some little green shoots the other day. I think they will be crocuses.

    Thank you Catharine for gathering all of us around your blog, which is so much like sitting around a woodstove, swapping stories. We are all so far flung, that this blog is about as close as we can get to telling stories around a fire. So, thanks Catharine.


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