Posts filed under ‘Neither Here nor There…’

A Green Start to the New Year

January and February are, for me at least, an ideal time for hibernation and quiet contemplation. Which is probably also the reason that now that the happy, but somewhat chaotic period of celebrating the holidays is well over, I find that I don’t really want to write about any of that anymore. But I guess I could share a few pictures. We did have a very nice Christmas!

One of the best things about Christmas and New Years 2021 for me, aside from having both of my sons here for a few days, was the fact that this was our first “green” Christmas.

I have always loved having a freshly cut Christmas tree every year. Balsam was always our favorite because of the wonderful scent it brings into the home, and the fact that its rather sparse branches leave plenty of room for ornaments to be optimally displayed. But this year–partly because we had to have 32 (!) spruce trees in our yard cut down last summer (victims of an insect that has been devastating this particular species all over Europe)–and partly because of our growing awareness of just how badly we all need to safeguard our trees here on planet Earth, it just didn’t seem quite right to buy a dead tree this year.

We have a lot of replanting to do, and so we decided, why not start now?

Initially we had planned to bring the little live tree we bought inside, decorate it, and then plant it after Christmas. But once we had it sitting outside where it could benefit from the sunlight and rain, we didn’t have the heart to do that. It was clear that our little tree was going to be happiest outside: and so we left it there for a few days near the bird feeder, until one of my sons was able to find just the right spot, and the time to plant it. And so before the old year was gone, thanks to Sam, we had a new tree planted. It was a good feeling!

It has a long way to go to catch up with the “big guys,” but our little tree is doing quite well and we are very happy with our decision.

And so, after an unusually long silence, I am peeking out of my wintry hibernation to send everyone a belated, but very sincere wish for a green, happy, healthy, and productive 2022. Keep those masks on, and keep smiling underneath them. Spring will be here soon!

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, and is currently working on her next book, A Long Way from Iowa: A Literary Memoir.

February 6, 2022 at 2:27 pm 2 comments

Softly falling snow…

…brings joy, brings comfort, blankets the earth, softening all sounds…

There is more to report from my perch here in France, but much of it is upsetting, or at least uncertain and unsettling. The pandemic continues. Doctors, nurses, scientists, and elected officials, as well as the general population are all trying to deal with a difficult and worrisome situation. It’s not clear when we’ll be able to breathe a sign of relief. Not yet.

But yesterday, it snowed. In Paris people were out sledding, skiing, and generally rejoicing in the snow. (Snow brings out childlike wonder and joy in almost everyone, doesn’t it?)

Here in Essoyes the snow started in the afternoon and continued into the night, softly covering everything. And it was still here this morning.

So for today, I’m going to just let this lovely sight stay here. Along with the words that always come back to me when a lovely, thick snow is falling.

Snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves…

Has anyone ever written more beautifully about snow than James Joyce did in this passage? I don’t think so.

Stay safe, stay well everyone. Prenez soin de vous…


Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, and is currently working on her next book, a literary memoir entitled “A Long Way from Iowa.”

January 17, 2021 at 7:36 pm 2 comments

Hooray!

No further comment needed.

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, and is currently working on her next book, a literary memoir entitled “A Long Way from Iowa.”

November 9, 2020 at 10:59 am 1 comment

How to Write a Fair (and Helpful) Book Review on Amazon (or anywhere)

One of the most helpful things readers can do to help writers (and publishers, and everyone else who creates and produces books) is to write reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, and elsewhere. And it is so easy to do!

Continue Reading October 6, 2020 at 12:01 pm 4 comments

Déconfinement continued…

I could start by saying I’ve found it hard to know what to say about anything recently. The words of the poet W. B. Yeats come frequently to my mind about “the center not holding…” It does feel like the world as we have known it is coming apart at the seams, which is unsettling…

Continue Reading June 25, 2020 at 9:33 am 1 comment

Minneapolis, City of Lakes…and Police Brutality

Minneapolis, Minnesota. My hometown.

I am from a city in Minnesota called Minneapolis.

It is a place that, until recently, was not very well known outside of the United States, and even, to some degree, within the United States.

Minneapolis is a beautiful city of lakes and parks. It is a city that is rich in cultural activities and the arts. It is very cold there in the winter, and the winter is long. And it is my beloved hometown. That is how I have always thought of it, until now.

But now everyone in the world knows that Minneapolis is also the place where last week a horrific act of murder was committed, by a police officer, as three other police officers stood by and did nothing, or actively aided and abetted the murderer.

And that the outrage over that murder–combined with the cumulative weight of so many many many terrible murders before it–has rocked our nation and spread a cry of fury, anguish, and vigorous protest around the world.

It’s about time.

I am filled with both grief and shame over the treatment of this man, George Floyd. I grieve for his family, and for the families of so many other African Americans, and others, who have suffered for not just decades but centuries from this horrific kind of hatred, this unspeakable, unfathomable, unforgivable violence.

I don’t, and can’t, understand it. It sickens me. And I don’t really know what to say about it except that this murder–captured on camera so that anyone who can bear to watch can see it–does seem to perhaps be the last straw.

I hope it is.

Yesterday I saw a news clip of George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter, whose mother has not yet told her exactly what happened to him. All she knows is that her father is gone, that he died “because he couldn’t breathe,” and that huge crowds of people are calling out his name. “My Daddy changed the world,” this innocent child has said. It is heartbreaking.

Will his unnecessary, terrible death change the world?

Right now, nothing is certain, and things are not good in the not-very-United States of America. In many cities, the police are acting out violently, out of control. The president is completely incompetent (to say the least). The Republican leadership (still, unbelievably) stands by and does nothing.

It’s hard not to despair.

But that is not a choice. It’s not a choice.

Americans tend to feel that “failure is not an option.” But when it comes to humane treatment of our black brothers and sisters, the truth is, we’ve been failing for far too long. Failing, and failing, and failing again.

Our president promised to bring “winning” back to our nation. Somehow I don’t think he defines winning in the same way I do.

But I trust–and fervently hope–that we can start winning the only game that counts.

That we can find a way to love, and support, and help each other through this terrible terrible mess we’re in.

Janet Hulstrand
 is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, and is currently working on her next book, a literary memoir entitled “
A Long Way from Iowa.”

June 4, 2020 at 5:52 pm 1 comment

Back Home in Essoyes…

Well, after six weeks away–nearly a week in Paris in February, followed by five weeks in Washington–I am back home in Essoyes….

Continue Reading March 26, 2019 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

An interview with Lin Wenjie, recipient of the Bourse Renoir

An interview with artist Lin Wenjie, recipient of the 2016 Bourse Renoir….(in English and in French)

Continue Reading October 26, 2018 at 10:01 am Leave a comment

Here comes autumn…

Almost immediately after the big trucks hauling grapes had stopped making their several-times-a-day runs from the vineyards to the pressoir in Essoyes during the vendange, they were replaced by big trucks hauling loads of wood out of the forest…

Continue Reading October 1, 2018 at 6:50 am Leave a comment

A Peek into the Heartland (Kandiyohi County, Minnesota, 2018)

“Can you pick up some drums on your way out here?” my cousin emailed me. “I was planning to do a quick run in and out to get them, but since you’re coming this way anyway…”

Continue Reading July 11, 2018 at 12:55 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


Twitter Updates

Categories

Recent Posts

Want to follow this blog? Just enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,845 other followers