Word Prompt: Soften | Story Prompt: from the book “Where I Live Now” by Sharon Butala

Write It Out: Instruction Video

“What Peter and I shared, as this book will tell, was a deep love of and respect for the beauty of nature and its ineffable mystery, the wonder of the deer, moose, pronghorns, occasional elk, the coyotes and foxes, all the way down to little creatures that ran the banks of the Frenchman River at the hay farm, the schools of fish that swam in it, and the snakes of sometimes astonishing size. Great birds came and went: pelicans, wild swans, ducks and geese and eagles, both golden and bald, and snowy owls, and songbirds — red-winged blackbirds and bluebirds and meadowlarks. We lived for the smell of the prairie in the spring, for the way the leaves of a certain grass curled, or made eyebrows, or another turned mauve for a few days on its way to maturity. We loved the buffalo horn casings we dug up out of the prairie, the stone flakes and artifacts from centuries ago. We loved the moon and the wheeling constellations and the way the coulees ran musically with melting snow in the spring. I think we loved even the howling blizzards and the sucking mud and the rocks scattered everywhere by melting glaciers.

But as the years passed, slowly, one after the other, not with neat calendar breaks but seamlessly in an eternal round of being and doing, a life lived under the stars and the endless sky, in the constant wind, through killing blizzards and summer storms that cracked and bellowed, and lit the sky from horizon to horizon, and periods of such intense cold or equally intense summer heat, I began to feel my mind, my heart, my soul — all of them — being slowly opened so that the boundary between me and these things melted, dissolved. Through awe-inspiring dreams, eventually through small visions, the Great Mystery of our being became clearer to me. Not the answer, but the question — the eternal question.”


Happy vernal equinox, happy spring! All around me, and even within myself, I feel a softening. As winter gives way to spring, as the ice and snow melts, the ground yields to the melting. As the branches loosen and brighten and the sap runs from root to branch tips and crown, dark patches of earth warm and — surprise! — a crocus or snowdrops, bright green and white, fill the earthy spaces between the piles of dirty snow. My own shoulders and hips relax and look forward to lengthening and stretching out after what feels like a long winter hibernation.

Thoughts? Feel free to share them here.

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