There is a reason Katherine Elder, Meg, Gale and the other inhabitants of The Changeful Map and The Unchanging Island do not travel in the heart of winter. This February, walking along frozen Betsie Bay, I have been thinking about them and about the dark months Kathe and Meg spent in Bethany’s snug cottage talking, reading, and preparing to go out into the world again – in Spring.
Early Spring, influenced as it is by both the cold North wind and the sun, brings frigid nights and danger in the mountains, but it is easier to keep characters alive and moving forward through their story when they are not preoccupied by frostbitten fingers and toes and when each day brings a trace more light and a slightly softer breeze.
Here in Michigan, we are getting there. The Frozen 5K footrace, was held last weekend, and traced the Betsie Bay shoreline, and with temperatures approaching the 50’s, we runners enjoyed the feeling of pavement under our shoes instead of yak trax. This reprieve from winter won’t last, but the days of enforced hibernation are bound to come to an end soon. Maple sugaring will begin, and the buds begin to swell. It is inevitable.
In book three of the trilogy, some of the characters have chosen to linger on the sunny, if disturbing, island of Niue instead of launching themselves, as they must, towards the sharp and frozen mountains of the north, a place where winter keeps its hold all year round. It is best that they don’t know what lies ahead or they might never leave. And they have to. Soon.