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Winter (Color Hunger)

I live in a place that is stunningly beautiful but also isolated. Winters on the shore of Lake Ontario can last six months, and we contend with a massive amount of snow and extended cold.

There are days when visibility is more a concept than an actuality, days when I may not see another human being.

Actual view out my apartment window, during snowstorm.

My friends are the pigeons who perch on the neighboring church, the school crossing guard I see walking to her post in the dark hours of the morning, the snow plow drivers who clear the road.

When going outdoors is a poor option, I work inside. I write, I paint, I photograph the paintings. I photograph the inside of my apartment, close-ups that become almost abstract, images that look like they are on the verge of either disintegrating or coalescing.

During the winter, when the sky is gray with heavy clouds and just about every surface is white with snow, I crave color. It’s like craving fruit or Vitamin D – I NEED color.

I bought this pomegranate just so I could see the color.

Although most of my recent work sticks to a blue and green palette, in winter I experiment with yellows and oranges.  I leave those bottles of ink out so my eyes can soak up their light. It is a little like sun bathing.

And if the colors I find are not enough to warm me, I wrap myself in the brightest blanket I can find and wait until new words come, or new images, or – if I am lucky – the sun itself makes an appearance.

Donna Steiner’s essays and poetry have been published in literary journals including Fourth Genre, The Bellingham Review, The Sun, Full Grown People and The Manifest Station. She teaches literary citizenship and creative writing at the State University of New York in Oswego. A chapbook of five essays, Elements, was released by Sweet Publications. Her paintings will soon appear in Lunch Ticket.

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