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Archive for February, 2011

The Meanings of Masks

I am in East Lansing, Michigan, taking part in a multi-media event centered around a new exhibition of masks at the Michigan State University’s art museum. Instead of being organized around cultures, the masks in this show are grouped by theme: spirituality, power, gender roles, and the like.

Along with the visual art exhibit, there has been a week of readings, discussions, and workshops presented by West Virginia’s poet laureate, Irene McKinney, whose own collection of masks is extensive and varied. On Wednesday, February 16, Irene will lead a workshop, open to the public, around the theme of masks.

I’m really thrilled to be here as Irene’s helper and friend, and I’m looking forward to writing about masks. More later.

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Winter Lover

Talking to a fellow customer at the post office yesterday, I heard a familiar refrain: “Seems like this winter will never end, doesn’t it?”

Sometimes I nod and murmur in agreement, just to be nice. But yesterday, in a fit of honesty, I said, “The truth is, I’m one of those people who love this weather.” My neighbor in line muttered, “Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying it,” and turned away from me to talk to someone else.

I’m used to this sort of rebuff. We winter lovers are in the minority—especially in February. A lot of folks seem to resent us.

So why do I like winter? Let me count the ways:

No mosquitoes.

Scarves, sweaters, vests, and jackets. I know, some people think this is the downside of winter, but I love winter clothes: the smell and texture of wool sweaters. Vests in many colors, with many pockets. Colorful scarves and fun hats. Yes, it takes longer to get dressed to go outside, but in winter I do not mind having saggy arms and unsightly knees.

Shoveling the sidewalk at Arlington Court. Great upper-body exercise—it has to work off more calories than cross-country skiing. And it’s a way to do something my neighbors really appreciate.

And, especially, the way trees look after a fresh snowfall.

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