Get cold

Wed 16 Dec 2015 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

You Have Never Been Here cover - click to view full sizeDavid Abrams at the Quivering Pen included You Have Never Been Here on his list of Best Book Cover Designs of 2015:

Take a minute to admire that cover design. Notice how, through the magic of perspective, this woman seems to fly right at you with a pair of hands serving as wings. (The photo by Emma Powell is called ‘Angel.’) It’s the kind of off-putting, and yet beautiful, reaction one can get from reading Rickert’s fiction, short stories designed to scrape the skin from within.

It is weirdly warm in Western Massachusetts, many degrees above the norm, no snow on the ground — no real snow yet at all in fact, just as few of the lightest flurries one day and then nothing since — and people have been walking around without jackets. It is very strange, I hope it’s not the new norm. It seems odd to wish for cold weather but here in the northern hemisphere in mid December it’s what we’ve known for many years and unseasonal changes are getting more common.

So here’s a story from You Have Never Been Here about cold to remind me (weather-wise, at least!) what is to come.

Cold Fires” by Mary Rickert:

It was so cold that daggered ice hung from the eaves with dangerous points that broke off and speared the snow in the afternoon sun, only to be formed again the next morning. Snowmobile shops and ski rental stores, filled with brightly polished snowmobiles and helmets and skis and poles and wool knitted caps and mittens with stars stitched on them and down jackets and bright-colored boots, stood frozen at the point of expectation when that first great snow fell on Christmas night and everyone thought that all that was needed for a good winter season was a good winter snow, until the cold reality set in and the employees munched popcorn or played cards in the back room because it was so cold that no one even wanted to go shopping, much less ride a snowmobile. Cars didn’t start but heaved and ticked and remained solidly immobile, stalagmites of ice holding them firm. Motorists called Triple A and Triple A’s phone lines became so congested that calls were routed to a trucking company in Pennsylvania, where a woman with a very stressed voice answered the calls with the curt suggestion that the caller hang up and dial again. As for myself, I already called a snow removal services.

It was so cold dogs barked to go outside, and immediately barked to come back in, and then barked to go back out again; frustrated dog owners leashed their pets and stood shivering in the snow as shivering dogs lifted icy paws, walking in a kind of Irish dance, spinning in that dog circle thing, trying to find the perfect spot to relieve themselves while dancing high paws to keep from freezing to the ground.

It was so cold birds fell from the sky like tossed rocks, frozen except for their tiny eyes, which focused on the sun as if trying to understand its betrayal. read on


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