Staring At A Bleak Landscape

16 Dec

The evergreens, sixty feet in the distance, are gray in color, embraced by the low clouds. Their limbs constantly weep.  No breaks in the clouds can be seen, a smooth carpet of pewter overhead.  It is nearly impossible to say where they end and the landscape begins – disconcerting, depth-perception malfunction, messing with my feng shui.

The gray seeps into my writing studio, layers upon my head, seeps inside, cloaks me with melancholy, a blanket of somberness, making it difficult to summon uplifting thoughts.

I’m drowning in the drabness of a Northwest winter.

A high of forty-five, low of thirty-five, set the selector for repeat, and repeat, Shannon on the local news telling us a series of systems await offshore, all aimed towards us, ten days into the future, a future of soaked clothes, soaked shoes, soaked psyches and soaked dogs.

And winter ain’t even upon us yet! Heaven help us all!

Turn on the news, COVID twenty-four seven, another blanket of gray upon the mood, trying to remember what shaking hands feels like, what hugging feels like, what discussing anything without the filtered masks of protection feels like.  Twenty-twenty, you are no longer welcome, thanks for the visit, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Neighbor across the street, Joel, house-husband and new father, wheels his son, Fritz, I swear to God the kid’s name is Fritz, outside in the stroller, both bundled against Nature’s wrath, and off they go down the street.  Anna, eighty-something and frail, pushes her recycling bin out to the curb, raingear clutched, her walk so much slower than when I first met her.  Alana, from down the block, walks her poodle by, sees me in the window, waves, shakes her head, throws up her hands to the sky, in supplication, a statement without words.

Life goes on, through the storms, through the pandemics, day-to-day stuff, terribly unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but crucial to our grasp of sanity, one foot in front of the other, always moving forward, doing what we need to do to simply survive one more day, waiting for Shannon to greet us one night, nightly news, and tell us brighter days are ahead, the storms have ceased, the sun will shine.

My wish, for all of you, is a day of sunshine! Blessings to you all this holiday season!


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

30 Responses to “Staring At A Bleak Landscape”

  1. lantern carrier December 16, 2020 at 4:09 pm #

    Powerful … powerful … powerful!!! Super-excellent writing and conveying so much in such a succinct way!! I thought my Covid-19, or rather my 2020 summary was great, but yours is far better. Permission to use some of your lines for my Friday poetry slot. I think I’ll do a performance piece! Merci Beacoup!! Amazing writing! – Lantern Carrier

  2. Billybuc December 16, 2020 at 4:36 pm #

    I am humbled by that, my friend. Thank you! Yes, you have my permission, and my thanks! Blessings to you always!

  3. My Very Own Writing Coach December 16, 2020 at 4:58 pm #

    The sun WILL shine again. Wish I could send you some sunshine, but we’re in the middle of a noreaster. No sunshine here either. I”ll see what I can do over the weekend. Be watching for UPS. Take care, my friend.

  4. Billybuc December 16, 2020 at 5:27 pm #

    Thanks William! Stay safe during that storm. Those can be nasty!

  5. Susan Zutautas December 16, 2020 at 7:09 pm #

    Hi Bill, sorry I’ve not been around much of late. Your piece here is the same way so many of us feel right now. You’ve written this so beautifully even though life right now is sad, especially for me. Even though the sun does shine once in a while I just don’t feel the same as I used to when it did before. Wishing you and Bev all the best for 2021. xx

    • Billybuc December 17, 2020 at 2:56 pm #

      Susan, I think you have a valid excuse for not being around lately. May 2021 bring you peace of mind and heart, my friend.

  6. Janine Huldie December 16, 2020 at 7:57 pm #

    Hi Bill. Nice to catch up here and I agree with Susan you piece really depicts how so many of do indeed feel right about now. So, what can I say, but thank you for putting into words what the current state of affairs feels like right about now. That said, just wanted to stop in to wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday season now.

    • Billybuc December 17, 2020 at 2:55 pm #

      Janine, thank you, and may I say I miss you? Well, I do. I hope you are doing well, and I hope yesterday’s storm didn’t bury you guys. Hang in there, and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  7. marlenebertrand December 16, 2020 at 9:07 pm #

    Drabby today, sunny tomorrow! That’s what I say on those rare but gloomy days. It is good that you have people to watch. I am a people-watcher, but up here in the mountains there are no people to watch – just the little animals that roam about from time to time and even they don’t come out on the cold, grey days. Happy Holidays… Merry Christmas… Happy Advent… Happy Day to you, dear friend.

    • Billybuc December 17, 2020 at 2:53 pm #

      Thank you, Marlene, and Merry Christmas to you and your husband. May brighter days arrive for us all soon.

  8. nightlake December 16, 2020 at 11:11 pm #

    Things are indeed gloomy, but hopefully sun would shine again and things would get normal again. Though the topic is sad, the write-up is lovely.

    • Billybuc December 17, 2020 at 2:50 pm #

      Thank you my friend! Oddly, this wasn’t meant to be sad. It was meant as a message of strength and hope. I think I missed my aim. lol

  9. phoenix2327 December 17, 2020 at 11:00 am #


    This is what winter does to me every year. It’s easier to ignore the doldrums in the run up to Christmas. Gifts to buy and wrap, house to decorate, food to prepare, welcome distractions. It’s the crash after New Year’s that’s difficult. Every day I have to remind myself that it won’t last forever. Each passing day brings us closer to those warmer, sunnier times. And when the Vernal Equinox heralds the coming spring, we can pat ourselves on the back, knowing we beat back winter yet again.

    That’s what keeps me going. Hang in there, Bill. It’s not forever. Have a lovely Christmas.

    • Billybuc December 17, 2020 at 2:47 pm #

      Zulma, for me it’s December 21st. After that, I know the days are increasing in light. It may be two or three minutes, but it’s a signal of hope for me. 🙂 Merry Christmas, my friend, and thank you for your friendship.

      • phoenix2327 December 17, 2020 at 2:54 pm #

        You make a good point. Winter Solstice it is. 🙂

      • Billybuc December 17, 2020 at 2:57 pm #

        I’ll take any encouraging news I can get, Zulma! 🙂

  10. Ruchira Khanna December 17, 2020 at 7:50 pm #

    Stay safe Bill. These clouds of uncertainty shall also pass.

    On a positive note…we all in good health.

    • Billybuc December 18, 2020 at 2:38 pm #

      We are doing well, Ruchira! Thank you, and Happy Holidays to you!

  11. 1authorcygnetbrown December 18, 2020 at 11:51 am #

    Aww, but there is a spring coming! I just received my Seed Saver’s Exchange Catalog and am dreaming about the spring to come. I am making a list of all the projects that I can do this winter in preparation for that spring. I have fruit trees coming in a few weeks. Plus, I now have the time to work on my new book series The Perpetual Homesteader. I hope to have the first book of the series The Perpetual Vegetable Gardener ready by the time I can start putting seeds, potatoes, and onion sets into the ground!

  12. Billybuc December 18, 2020 at 2:32 pm #

    Look at you, Donna, dreaming of planting and writing! Bravo to you! Wonderful adventures ahead of you.

    Happy Holidays, my friend!

  13. Andrea Stephenson December 25, 2020 at 4:56 pm #

    A lot of grey here to Bill, and a lot of mud, not much in the way of those more magical winters, but yesterday, just as I was about to listen to Judy Garland sing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, snow came, big fat flakes that drifted down for a while and then were gone…sending you best wishes for happier times to come.

    • Billybuc December 26, 2020 at 3:10 pm #

      Thank you, Andrea! I think what we all need is for the calendar to turn a page, get us to 2021, and a fresh start. Wishing you the Happiest of New Years, my friend.

  14. Sarah Potter Writes January 5, 2021 at 3:26 pm #

    It’s grey here on the UK’s SE coast, and scary, too. We are about to go into yet another Lockdown tomorrow, Jan 6, hoping to shelter from the assault of a Covid mutation that’s spreading like wildfire across our country. We are also braced ifor the predicted arrival of the “Beast from the East” and subarctic temperatures.

    Interesting times, but won’t decide until after it’s all over and if l survive it, if it was character building or not.

    Dear Bill, your post is so well written. It literally drips with atmosphere. I know all about how wet one dog can be, although, as I’m sure you know, a Labrador does have a double coat, enabling it to shake a deluge off its top coat and reveal a totally dry undercoat beneath.

    Wishing you a belated Happy New Year, my excellent friend across the Pond 🙂

    • Billybuc January 5, 2021 at 4:28 pm #

      Strange times indeed, my friend. So nice to hear from you. You have provided a pleasant distraction on this bleak morning. We are trapped in the wet zone. The storms just keep pounding us day after day. No snow in site, which makes this a strange winter during a strange period in what seems like a strange world.

      I hope we all come out the other end, into sunny skies and good health.

      Take care, my friend, and Happy New Year to you!

  15. Sue Dreamwalker January 10, 2021 at 9:38 pm #

    Wonderful descriptive writing Bill…. So many grey days clouded with the brainwashing… And it was so nice yesterday to have a sharp heavy frost that lasted all day with clear cold blue skies… Hubby and I took a walk…. Noses red, and cheeks glowing…. hats and gloves keeping us warm…. But oh was it so nice to escape into the SUN…. And see Nature enjoying her thing…
    Squirrels jumping branches and birds chirping… Know nothing of the Mayhem we have created….
    Which is why we have to get back into Nature and BE…

    Sending you New Year Blessings dear Bill…. The plot is dormant… apart from fetching potatoes from the shed.. Leaks and Sprouts … But Spring and NEW beginnings around the corner..

    Love to you both ❤

  16. Billybuc January 11, 2021 at 2:31 pm #

    Thank you Sue! It’s been mild this winter; wet and mild. Not a sniff of snow, and none on the horizon. Makes for soggy walks with the dogs, but no complaints here. It could be much worse.

    I hope this finds you healthy and safe. Take care, you! Sending love across the Pond!

    • Sue Dreamwalker January 12, 2021 at 10:20 pm #

      Thank you for your well wishes Bill.. So pleased I came back here to check in.. No alert on your response in my little bell notification..

      I just came from a blog in Norway.. their December wet and foggy no snow! either… Yet places like Spain have had snow.. Go figure… 🙂 Mind you I have stopped trying to figure out anything these days..

      We have nothing to complain about compared to many… So I am grateful for the sun when it pops out behind the rain clouds..

      Have a great rest of your week Bill 🙂

  17. Shell Vera January 15, 2021 at 1:38 pm #

    Bill, I like that you can see the everyday in a way that makes life beautiful. While I feel the solemn tone, I also feel a respect for life and wanting a brighter day. A zeal for life and seeing the everyday in extraordinary ways. Some things we miss in our rush, you picked up on during the bleak landscape.

    The news is rough these days. You’d think they would purposely find more feel-good stories in these times instead of piling on fear and pain.

    2020 had been a rough year and ended with our household coming down with covid after a relative fell sick. Two ER trips and he was back to normal, but not before the whole house (tested separately) was positive. We did our isolation and quarantine and now are able to work and shop again, but it was an experience. Two people NO symptoms while the person who infected us and me had symptoms but different from once another except for loss of taste and smell. I will say I love my family but never intend to spend three weeks stuck in me room again! That said, we made it through and I saw it wasn’t as bad when you isolate and pay attention as they are making it out to be. Both of us have predicting conditions. I’ve followed the rules to the letter while the other person never stopped living life and because we live together, it spread to the other three of us. When I tell you we were not happy… but my point is as bleak as it was, that was even interrupted with the birth of my first grandchild. So in all bleakness, there is a hope for sunshine.

    No matter how we view things, I can tell you that I’ve learned this past year to look for the ordinary and every day heroes and events and love them. Because when they aren’t around, that is what we miss. Not the big theatrics. Not the major events. The little every day conversations, people, and things.

    Happy 2021!!

    • Billybuc January 15, 2021 at 2:37 pm #

      Shell, I am so happy to hear you are all right now, and congratulations on the birth. That right there is reason for celebration.

      Your words are beautiful; for me to comment further would be a form of literary disrespect. They are stunning in the way they capture the essence of being a human being.

      Thank you for sharing those words with me. Hugs and love from Olympia, and Happy New Year!

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