Gone Fishing

Not long ago I needed to buy a few items from my local outdoor store. Usually, when I drive into town, I combine several errands to make the trip worthwhile. But that time I just made the trip for those few things. When I got to the store the front door was locked and the lights were off. Strange for a mid-afternoon. Then, I noticed a small handwritten note taped to the window: “Gone Fishing. We’ll be back in a few days.” I laughed and thought how nice it was that the owners decided to take a break from their work and just get out on the lake and fish. Whether they went fishing or not didn’t really matter to me. I wasn’t even annoyed that I had to wait to get that water bottle and a repair kit for my aging tent.

In a few days, it will be my 2nd anniversary of writing this blog Finding Solace and I’ve decided to take a few weeks off. Return refreshed. Maybe with a change. Perhaps share my Australia and New Zealand adventures. Possibly archive this blog. Start a new one. Maybe both.

Yeah, I’ve been in Australia visiting my son for a month and then I’m off to New Zealand for two weeks.

Think of this blog as my little handwritten note on my window: Gone Fishing. I’ll be back soon.

Happy Spring everyone! Enjoy the day! Find solace whenever you can! No worries, mate!


© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

The Poet

A poet can be described as anyone who uses language creatively, who can evoke a specific emotional response through words, or a person possessing special powers of imagination: Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost. My favorite poet as a teenager was Elizabeth Barrett Browning and I spent hours reading her collective works.

In my early college years, my favorite poet was Bashō. I discovered his poetry accidentally when browsing through a bookstore to find a few tips about traveling. I didn’t have much money, so I was looking for something inexpensive and noticed a small Penguin Classic called Bashō: The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches. At the time, I thought the paperback might have some insight into how I might accomplish my dream of touring the world. It turned out the book didn’t have an iota of traveling advice, but it did give me something far more valuable.

The book tells the story of the respected Japanese poet Bashō through his remarkable contribution to the shortest form of Japanese poetry called haiku. Haiku, or hokku as it was called when Bashō lived (1644-1694), consists of seventeen syllables, divided into three sections of five-seven-five. The haikus he created to describe the world around him were and still are nothing short of astonishing, and I find more meaning in them every time I read one.

At the surface level, haikus can be just descriptive poems, but I think the best haikus are ones with a simple symbolic quality, an expression that transcends the moment –an aha flash, something that strengthens our connection to the natural world and sometimes with a deeper meaning.

Over the years, I’ve written hundreds of haikus in a plain-lined journal, attempting to capture my connection to the natural world and when I need to express how wonderful living truly is; striving to emulate a little of what Bashō did so brilliantly. For me, there is comfort in the down-to-earth writing of haikus; a discipline in whole-heartedly committing to the moment –to capture the essence of now, to freefall into what is.

snow falls quietly

soft as dandelion heads

blanketing my thoughts

winter sun rises

makes me wish for the brightest

colors of summer

love looks like white snow

next to a blooming flower

showing me the light

just before sunrise

as the sky begins to glow

I remember you

How did you find solace this week?


© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

Emily and Me

The Bible still holds the record for the most books sold at 5 billion copies. Next, Quotations from Chairman Mao (1.1 billion copies), the Quran (800 million copies), Don Quixote (500 million copies), followed by Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (200 million copies), and The Lord of the Rings (155 million copies). The Harry Potter books, 7 in all, have sold more than 500 million copies.

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson is considered one of the best-selling and most revered poetry books of all time, alongside the nonfiction book On Walden Pond by Henry David Thoreau. Interestingly, Henry David Thoreau was little appreciated for his philosophical writings during his lifetime and the prolific writer Emily Dickinson was not recognized for any of her work until after she died in 1886. Her first book was published posthumously in 1890.

I imagine Emily Dickinson writing away at her desk without thinking about publishing or any of those things modern authors have to consider: posting on social media platforms, speaking at a local library or conference, advertising, legal issues, a well-designed book cover, awards, blogging or building a website to name a few. Maybe she just wrote for the joy of writing. Admiring the view from her window, the scarlet maple in fall, summer’s purple clover, or the pristine white of winter, jotting down her thoughts, content and at peace.

It’s a lovely image. I don’t know if any of my visualizations are true, but I can’t help but reflect that perhaps it might be wise to take a break from the pressures of modern authorship and mull over just writing. Look out my window and appreciate the mist rising from the melting snow, ghostlike shapes meandering through the tall cedars and bare larches. Turn off the notifications on my phone. Postpone my next publishing obligation. Slip on my jammies. Sip a hot cup of tea. Pretend I am back in the 1880s and just write.

“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.” Emily Dickinson

© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved


J.K. Rowlings was rejected 12 times by publishers. They all thought Harry Potter wasn’t good enough. There were insufficient lifeboats on the Titanic because engineers at the time believed it was unsinkable. It took 177 years to build the tower of Pisa and 10 years for it to start leaning. Faulty construction led to the meltdown of Chernobyl. Decca Records turned down the Beatles thinking they’d never make it.

Research indicates humans make 3-6 errors per hour, and about 50 errors per day. Some tiny, like thinking we see the number 8, which is actually the number 3. Some big. Some small. Some because we didn’t know. Some because we miscalculated. There are times when mistakes are not visible right away until, maybe, when someone kindly, or not so kindly, lets us know.

Regardless of the statistics that we all make mistakes, I still find making a mistake tough, and the bigger the mistake, the harder it is for me to accept. Simply put, mistakes don’t feel very good. And the more I have invested in something, whether it’s something I spent a lot of money on or devoted time to, the more distress I feel. I don’t like to admit that I chastise myself for hours, okay days, for my mistakes.

I prefer it when I’m complimented: “Hey, I really like your class,” “I loved your book,” “Thanks for that blog, I needed that,” or “You’re looking good.”

Not so much when my mistakes are pointed out to me: “Didn’t you know you couldn’t use that title?” Or worse, laughter, “Oh, that’s such a rookie mistake. That’s going to cost you big.” Ouch.

I’ve lived long enough to know that mistakes are fertile ground for learning, compassion, humility, gaining valuable wisdom, growth, and success. Historically, mistakes have led to great things and the truth is, my life is better because of all my mistakes. But it still stings when I mess up, like with an important legal matter that caught me off guard this week, which will probably irritate me for a while.

When I asked Google, “What’s the biggest mistake we humans make?” two answers popped up: thinking we have more than enough time, and not paying attention to our health. The answers surprised me but then again, not really. It just brought home the truth that the most important things in my life are not my mistakes but enjoying the passage of time, taking good care of myself, spending time with my loved ones, and not stressing out over those things I cannot change.

“The inspiration you seek is already within you. Be quiet and listen.” Rumi

How did you find solace this week?


© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

Life Goes On

Where I live, most trees and shrubs form their buds in the late summer or fall before they go dormant for the winter; sleeping, not growing, or changing, waiting until spring to swell and leaf out. Bears give birth usually in February, during hibernation and even though the mother bears metabolic rates have slowed, they wake up to give birth and then care for their tiny cubs. Baby black bears weigh around 8 ounces at birth, while a grizzly bear cub will weigh about one pound. It’s amazing that these bears can grow to 600 lbs. Emperor Penguins breed during the Antarctic winter when the air temperature may drop to -75 degrees Fahrenheit with winds reaching speeds of up to 125 mph. I’ve always appreciated the fact that even in the darkest and coldest times of the year, there is life, waiting to burst into thousands of vibrantly colored blossoms or despite the harshest conditions on earth, emerge from the warm incubation of its parent.

It’s also comforting to know that no matter what happens or how bad it seems sometimes, life goes on. Every day gives me a chance to be better. To care deeply for those I love. To let go of the things I cannot change. To find solace every day in the little things like observing buds on a tree covered in ice, or to know that there is likely a bear cub being born near my home, or sadly today, how to say goodbye to a dear friend.

For Mel

Freezing rain fell

covering everything

in a half-inch layer of ice

the day I found out

you took your last breath

impossible to go outside

for a walk. Roads paths sidewalks

slippery as a skating rink

impossible to believe

you no longer here

the sound of your beautiful laugh

echoing in my heart. Remembering

sunny days sipping lattes

chatting about things you love

Paul, a daughter, two sons

dogs, more dogs, Greece

good food, flowers, dreams

compassion for others. Healing

the world one tender word

after another. Who knows

how many people you saved

hundreds, thousands

who are better because you lived

you cared you loved

you a light in this world

snuffed out too soon

yet not forgotten not dead

not gone but here

blooming in the present.

How did you find solace this week?


© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

Valentine’s Day

When I was in second grade, I had a crush on a boy in my class named Frank. I liked his dark black hair and blue eyes. To me, they sparkled in the light. For months I wanted to tell him that I liked him and that we were destined to be together, but I always chickened out. So, on Valentine’s Day that year, I mustered up a bit of courage and decided to wait for him outside the main school door and confess my undying love. It took a long time before he came through that door (or maybe he knew I was waiting for him.) Anyhow, when he opened the door, I rushed up to him and blurted, “I love you, Frank.” I didn’t know what I was expecting but I didn’t anticipate the horrified look on his face or that he instantly became an Olympic sprinter, running past me, down the street, and up the hill without once looking back. I can’t remember now if I shrugged it off, but I do remember that he never talked to me again until we were in third grade and even then, it was only because he had to, being assigned to his group for a school project. I also waited for a Valentine from him, but I never got one of course, and my silly heart felt a little sad.

In the late fall of my fourth-grade year, Frank left a dead grasshopper on the seat of my desk and when I sat down, the bug got squished, messing up my plaid skirt. I saw Frank laughing with his friends and I almost started to cry. Instead, I got up and asked the teacher if I could use the restroom. There, I cleaned the bug off my skirt, washed the tears away, and decided I didn’t like Frank anymore.

However, when I told my friend what had happened, she said, “Oh, don’t you know Frank likes you?”

I looked at her as if she had just told me the sky was falling. “What?”

“Yeah, John told a group of us at recess the other day.”

That year I got a generic Valentine from Frank just like the ones he gave to everyone else but instead of just writing his name, he wrote, “I like your smile,” with a hand-drawn heart. It made my day.  

Frank moved away that summer and I moved on to different crushes and hopes and dreams.

Over the years, I’ve appreciated all the wonderful Valentine’s cards I’ve received, but especially the ones from my husband. I’ve kept most of them in a small folder and read them from time to time. Some are so beautiful. They are like tiny pieces of art, all summing up the same thing: I love you. I have so many now that I really don’t need any more cards. But the truth is, my heart still sings when I get that special Valentine’s card every year because, in the end, well, you know, it’s like that Beatles song repeating the words about love is all I need, all I need is love, love is all I need…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

How did you find solace this week?


© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved


My book consultant believes that as an author I should be singing any or all commendations, honors, awards, and endorsements most, if not all, of the time. “Get your brag on,” she says. “Don’t waste time. Get over yourself.”

Easier said than done, and besides, isn’t someone who is constantly promoting themselves annoying? Shouldn’t I just be writing for the joy of writing, honing my craft, selfless in my pursuit of sharing my stories with the world? Isn’t modesty the best policy?

Apparently not. My book consultant went on a little tirade. “Claiming success means having accountability. You’re owning what you’ve done, which is the mature thing to do. It’s planting seeds for your future. Owning up to your accomplishments is not arrogance; it’s about getting what you deserve.”

So, I guess I have a lot of work to do in that area, but I’ll start with this post. Here are a few paragraphs from an editorial review from Midwest Reviews that came out this week for Wandering …a long way past the past:

“Travel accounts pack library shelves, as do memoirs, but combine the two and add a spiritual component for the taste of something different and that is Wandering…A Long Way Past the Past…”

“Kreider’s attention to detail in recreating conversations, personas, and situations blends with a special degree of naiveté about the history of the places she traversed. This lends an element of surprise to her experiences that is both pleasing and points out how today’s travel itinerary, often carefully studied and researched well in advance, belays the growth inherent in discovery.”

“This translates to a deeper reliance on written description and word to impart the “you are here” feel of her journey—and in this, Kreider does not disappoint. Readers are here alongside her at every point, from smoking dope to encountering locals in small farming villages. This sense of immediacy and word images ultimately sets Wandering…A Long Way Past the Past more than a notch above contemporary travelogue memoirs, making for a vivid read that libraries will want to consider for its lasting value.”

“Capturing a bygone era pre-internet and the trekking journey of a young woman in search of place and self, Wandering…A Long Way Past the Past is a powerful recreation of a bygone world of innocence and wonder…”

Thank you Midwest Reviews. There. Is that enough? Or will my book consultant sigh and ask, “What’s next? Any awards yet?”

How did you find solace this week?


© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved


This winter the conditions for snowshoeing have been just right. Lots of good snow and cold temperatures which has encouraged me to snowshoe a lot. Near where I live, we’ve created a solid trail that runs about two miles from start to finish. Whenever it snows, I try to be the first one on the trail, before the deer or the small band of elk that roam through our property have had a chance to use it and poke holes into our otherwise perfect track.

My Sorel boots are showing a little wear and tear where the boot meets the toe clip and today my lower legs felt sore from hiking up a steep hill. I had to rest at the top, throwing off my fleece hat, and gloves, and take a couple of deep breaths.

“Who needs a gym?” my husband shouts from a few yards ahead. “I’m sweating.”

It made me think about my Canadian ancestors who snowshoed all winter long in most likely much harsher winters and much deeper snow. I was fascinated to learn that the first people who migrated over the Bering Land Bridge used snowshoes. Later, the Athapascan indigenous peoples of the northwest coast and the Algonquin indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes area perfected the traditional lace-frame snowshoe: the pointed upturned toes with a tail, the longer shoes for tracking in deep snow, and the oval snowshoe for use in thickly wooded areas. I don’t think they had a problem with staying in shape.

In my youth, my first snowshoes were made of birch wood and laced with moose hide. They worked great in very cold temperatures but if it warmed up at all, the moose hide would become soggy, causing the hide beneath my boots to stretch, and making the snowshoes heavy and burdensome to lift. Today my snowshoes are made from lightweight aluminum, plastic, and other synthetic materials with a metal cleat for gripping snow and ice. I can lift them easily and there are moments, like today, after a fresh snowfall when the sun is out creating fields of diamonds glistening on the frozen landscape, that I feel young and carefree. No worries. All I’m thinking about is putting one snowshoe in front of the other, my heart full of joy.

“Today I choose joy.” Anonymous

How did you find solace this week?


© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved


The word stress comes from the Latin word “strictus” which means “to tighten” or “narrow.”

Stress is defined as the pressure exerted on a material object; a state of emotional strain resulting from very demanding circumstances; a particular emphasis made in speech or writing; or subject to tension or pressure.

Hans Selye, the founder of stress research, popularized the concept of stress and its effect on the human body in the 1950s. Since that time, the study of stress and how it impacts our psychological and physiological well-being has been the topic of much research, analysis, and investigation.

When I attended graduate school, the study of psychological stress captivated my attention. It fascinated me how psychological stress can activate the fear center in the brain, setting into motion a cascade of reactions, which might lead to health issues. What interested me, even more, was that the fear can be real or imagined. For instance, I can have a whole bunch of work to do and if I can’t keep up with my tasks, it stresses me out. That’s real. Perceived stress is different. It’s more about my feelings and the lack of control I might have. Most of the time threats I worry about are not real and will likely not become real. They are just made-up stories in my head. 

My blood pressure has been running high as of late and I know only too well that stress is a factor. I could check several top stress factors that I have experienced over the last few years: death of three family members; retirement; moving; building a new home; caring for a sick family member; writing for long hours; regularly hearing about threats (global warming, gun violence, war); a lot of responsibility in completing a project (publishing two books in one year.) There is wear and tear on the body when stressful situations are prolonged, those stress hormones running amok. Left unchecked things could get a little wild and crazy.

I do not have the power to alter events already in motion, ‘nor fix some of the world’s most immediate dangers. But I can change my thinking. I can choose to say, “You know what? I’m taking a break from writing that next book.” Or “A possible nuclear holocaust is out of my control. Worrying about it is useless.” I can choose to not indulge in pessimistic fantasies or create new to-do lists. I have a choice. I can practice stress or practice peace.

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two breaths.”            E.Hillesum

How did you find solace this week?


© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

Pileated Woodpeckers

Current scientific studies state that approximately 48% of existing global bird populations are declining. According to Audubon, more than half of the US bird population is shrinking due to habitat loss, climate change, predation by domestic cats, and invasive species. They also suggest that there have been 3 billion North American birds lost since 1970.

Yesterday, while snowshoeing, a friend remarked. “It’s so quiet. I guess the birds are all gone.”

It was quiet. More so than I remember. Granted, most birds fly south for the winter season. Yet, some birds stick around: crows, ravens, chickadees, and red-tailed hawks, to name a few. However, I haven’t seen as many birds this year, except for the pileated woodpeckers who visit the forests around my home.

They are noteworthy birds. About the size of a crow, mostly black with bold white stripes and a red crest. They favor mature forests chipping out big rectangular holes in the trees, searching for carpenter ants and beetle larvae. Pileated woodpecker pairs stay together all year round, are not migratory, and even prefer harsh winter conditions. They can also forage around human homes.

I know they do because we have a pair that patronize our home. It’s not uncommon for me to be typing away on my laptop, absorbed in my writing when I hear a sudden tap, tap, tap. Stop. Then the sound again. Tap, tap, tap. You think I would know by now that it’s the woodpecker but invariably I find myself muttering, “What’s that?”

I think they must hear me leave my desk because, by the time I’ve opened the front door, they have flown to a nearby tree making loud, high-pitched, clear piping calls reminding me of the Woody Woodpecker cartoons of my youth. I usually lift my arms and say, “Shoo,” because I don’t want them chiseling a hole in our wood siding.

A bit of research informs me that pileated woodpeckers are loud and proud, using their drumming to communicate a variety of messages: connect with their mate, define territory, preen, or even get excited about something, and have become more and more adaptable to our changing world.

I think I could learn a few things from this remarkable bird: be loud and proud when I need to be, stay connected with my mate, get excited about things, become more adaptable to a changing world, and smile when I next hear tap, tap, tap.

“Heh-Heh-Heh-HEHHH-heh. HA-HA-HA-HAAA-HA! Guess who?” Woody Woodpecker

How did you find solace this week?


© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

New Beginnings

Beginning. /be’ giniNG / the point at which something starts; the first part; inception; initiation; outset; arising; emergence.

A few weeks ago, I burnt five boxes of old, damaged books when we decided to light our yearly burn pile, the only paper stuff in an otherwise ten-foot-high mound of cedar and spruce boughs, branches, small trees, and logs. At the end of the day, there was nothing left except for a small knoll of gray ash. Then a storm rolled through dumping six inches of snow on the ground and covering everything in a pristine layer of white.

I’ve walked down the small hill near our home to the burn pile almost daily now to view how tidy everything looks, a sudden lightness filling my chest as I exhale deliberately and quietly. I’ve always appreciated new beginnings. A time to wash away the past and start over.

Today I read through my to-do lists from 2022, crossed out those things that no longer matter, posted the top things I hope to get done in 2023 on my whiteboard, and tore up a pile of accumulated paperwork that was stressing me out. Things like the short story I didn’t finish, the incomplete application for a book marketing conference, catalogs, and coupons for things I don’t need, newspaper articles, recipes for a few awesome-looking dishes I will probably never bake, and a whole slew of unnecessary single page inspirational thoughts.

The file folder on my desk is empty except for a few items I need this week. The cleared space next to my lamp is a welcome change. A steaming cup of lavender and chamomile tea sits on a coaster depicting a summer lake scene.  My whiteboard has only five items. Books are stored back on the shelves behind the printer and as I stand and look out my window, I find comfort in knowing that the best time for new beginnings is now.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Rumi

How did you find solace this week?


© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved


According to Google, in 2021, there were 4 million books published worldwide. Just .0025% sold over 1,000 books (which is considered successful.) Last year, out of 38,000 American authors who wrote 2 books a year, only 300 of them made a living from their writings.

It is estimated there are over 1.2 billion freelance writers worldwide with about 50,000 full-time authors in the United States and 78,000 in the United Kingdom. The average royalty through a traditional publisher is about 10%. So, if an author sells 10,000 books for $10, she will make around $10 grand. How many authors sell 10,000 books? I don’t know, but my guess is not a lot. A Google search did reveal only 20 books (of any genre) sold over a million copies worldwide last year. Not great statistics. How does an author stand out from the crowd?

My book consultant tells me. “You have to be a whale in a pond.”

A whale in a what?

She continued. “Specialize. Fine-tune your craft. It’s all about branding.”

An image of a cowboy marking cattle with a red-hot branding iron floated through my head. I replied weakly, “I think I understand.”

Branding, the art of developing and implementing a distinctive set of features or a design for creation or merchandise, has been around for generations: Apple’s apple, Nike’s swoosh, McDonalds double arches, Shell’s shell, the arrow in FedEx, the two Ps in PayPal. But what does that have to do with writing?

“It tells your readers about who you are; your style and your genre. If you do it right, readers will recognize you the minute they see one of your books.” Never get a book consultant to talk about branding. They might never shut up. But the truth is, she’s right.

Little by little, I’m learning about author branding and why it is fast becoming one of the most important tools for finding success. It’s not an easy process learning how to represent who I am, what I aspire to deliver in my writings, how to connect with readers, or how to create the cornerstone of my writing platform. But then again, great things never come from staying in comfort zones.


How did you find solace this week?


© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved.

A New Year

One of the most popular ways of bringing in the New Year is with a big firework display. They occur all over the world as the clock strikes midnight, ending the last moment of the year and the first second of the new year. In New York City, a huge glowing ball is lowered down a flagpole to signal the new year. In Spain, people reach for grapes and eat one grape for every strike of the clock leading to midnight. The idea is that every grape you eat will ensure 12 good months in the new year. In Romania, people dress up as bears to chase away evil spirits. Japan and South Korea ring bells. In South Africa, people like to get rid of those things they no longer need, like throwing furniture out a window. In Brazil, there is a tradition to eat lentils as they represent money and good fortune. Italians have a custom of wearing red underwear. Greeks hang onions over their doors. In Denmark, they smash plates. In Ecuador, New Year’s Eve festivities are lit up with giant bonfires. Many countries also celebrate New Year’s Eve in the company of family and friends and share a special meal.

I have not particularly celebrated New Year’s Eve or rung in the new year with much fanfare in the past. Every year, I say, “This year I’m staying awake until midnight.” But inevitably I don’t. Often, it’s so cold outside that the lure of my flannel sheets far outweighs trying to keep my eyelids open. I know this worldwide celebratory event is the promise of a new year, a new beginning, a time to let go of any failures or disappointments of the past year and bring in the new year with no blunders or regrets in it yet. Have fun. Rejoice in the immense opportunity that might be in front of us. Sing and be merry.

But isn’t every day a new beginning?

Or maybe that’s just my excuse when I decide to crawl under my down comforter before the clock strikes midnight again this year.

Happy New Year! Wishing you a healthy and abundant 2023!

How did you find solace this week?


© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved

Winter Solstice

Indigenous cultures from around the globe have observed the winter solstice for thousands of years, marking the interconnectedness between the natural world and the people. There is even evidence of humans observing the winter solstice from as early as 10,200 B.C. In Ancient Rome, the winter solstice, or Saturnalia, began on December 17 and lasted for seven days. The festival honored Saturnus, the god of agriculture and harvests. In addition, the upper class celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the ancient Roman god of light during this time as well. For some Romans, this was their most sacred day. From what I read, it was quite a festival, when ordinary rules were turned upside down, and all sorts of partying and mischief prevailed.  

The earliest Norseman celebrated Yule, an observance from winter solstice until mid-January, in recognition of the return of the sun. Large logs, called yules, were set on fire and people would tell stories, and feast until the logs were burned out, believing this would assure a healthy harvest in the year to come.

The winter solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year –December for the northern hemisphere and June for the southern hemisphere.

One summer, when I was traveling in Alaska, I met a bus driver who told me that his absolute favorite day of the year was winter solstice because “it marks the return of the sun.” In winter the sun rises in Fairbanks around 11:00 am and sets at around 2:45 pm. giving residents there about 3 ½ – 4 hours of sunlight. There are 67 days of no sun in Barrow, the northernmost town in Alaska. I suppose if you live in northern Alaska, the return of the sun is a big deal.

So, I guess I shouldn’t complain about the sun setting behind the hills near my home before 3:00 in the afternoon this winter solstice and instead celebrate. Get a big bonfire burning in the new firepit my husband built in a remote corner of our land, tell a story or two, maybe even make smores, and rejoice that the shortest day and longest night of the year mean that the earth’s pole has reached its maximum tilt away from the sun and astronomically marks the beginning of lengthening days and shortening nights.

Happy Winter Solstice! Happy Holidays! Merry Everything!

How did you find solace this week?


© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved


Spring brings a chorus of migrating birds, loggers cutting down trees with their chainsaws in the nearby valleys, or thunder and lightning storms. Summer is full of laughter, and dirt bikes on the forest service roads. My neighbor opens her doors and windows when she plays the piano. There’s rarely a quiet time in the fall when everyone works day and night to get ready for the long winter ahead: tires to be rotated on the truck, harvesting of apples and berries, stacking wood for the woodstove, pruning of bushes and grasses, or a final wash of the windows that won’t get done again until spring.

The first big snowfall of the season can be a special time. If the temperatures are particularly cold, like they are today, the snowshoe hares, the chipmunks and squirrels, the pileated woodpeckers, our visiting deer, and wild turkey, along with the other birds that stick around for the winter, are sheltered in a nook of a tree, under a canopy of spruce boughs, or burrowed in the warmer earth under the snow. Humans stay inside heated homes.

The absence of bird songs, squirrel chirrups, human chatter, and other activity is silence. Different from the rest of the year.

For most of my life, the transition from late fall to winter has almost always been when the big snowfall arrives. But it may be more about the silence. The definition of snow is atmospheric water vapor frozen into ice crystals and falling in light, white flakes, or laying on the ground in a layer of white. But I think for me the definition of snow is the absence of sound. Stillness. A time in which I reflect and find comfort in a more solitary time of writing quietly for hours and hours while the snow falls outside. Everything quiet. At rest. Calm. Silent.


It’s white and swift and falls in sheets

covering the earth, obliterating

the tractor scars and the memory

of us laughing on the back deck

overjoyed to see you

after years away. We sat drinking

lemonade bathed in the light

of the late afternoon sun

a beautiful green sea of wild grasses

swaying in the wind

like a million dancing ballerinas.

Now I am alone

looking out the window at the distant hills

blanketed by layers of snow

white icing on a cake

cold as an Artic winter

remembering your smile that somehow

makes people want to dance

and comforts me

until spring

when I see you again.

How did you find solace this week?


© 2022. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved