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04 February 2011 @ 08:25 am
"Tell me, Liza, do you believe that spring will come?"  
ETA: I'm not yet sure about spring, but March has come, so the contest is now closed, though you're welcome to keep talking about spring and why you do or don't believe in it. Thanks for all the fabulous entries! I'll choose/draw the winners within a few days.


February has hit the northern hemisphere with a vengeance this year. I often say that Tucson's February--our cabin-fever season--is August, but even here, night temperatures are dipping into the teens, with accompanying gas/water outages and school closings. (If you want to shut down Southern Arizona, apparently all you have to do is turn off the heat.) More northern climes are, meanwhile, buried under some serious snow.

Faerie Winter is very much a book about winter. I've told friends that if you want to understand the book, all you really need to do is to listen to Dar Williams' February, which did get pretty constant play as I was writing the book, trying to remember what a Midwestern winter felt like as I wrote through a Southwestern summer.

Liza, my protagonist, of course knows all about Midwestern winters, or at least about those cold dark days when your feet are always damp and you can never quite seem to get warm. But she's never known the gray that goes with the cold, because in her post-apocalyptic world, the trees are so thick with the faerie magic that makes them seek human blood and bone, they never drop their green leaves.

Until now.

Now, the trees have surrendered their green, and for the first time Liza is living through a winter that's not only cold, but gray:

[At first] I'd laughed with the others, to see the leaves burst into fiery colors and fall from the trees, thinking only of how much easier winter would be, if the trees slept and we could walk through the forest unafraid. That was nearly a half year ago, though. The leaves had since turned to brown, and the world their falling had left behind reminded me of the black-and-white photos in the oldest books from Before. It reminded me of the land where I'd found the quia seed. I hadn't known any world could be so gray ... I'd tried to call acorns and maple seeds, remembering how I'd once felt the green at the heart of all seeds yearning to grow. I felt nothing but a shadowy gray silence ... The days were as long as the nights now, and winter still hadn't released its hold on the land. I could fight a willow's strangling roots, or a hawk's poisoned talons, but I didn't know how to fight a world that didn't want to grow.

After six months, Liza, like so many of us in winter, isn't quite sure she believes the gray will ever end. Yet we, at least, have an advantage: we've seen winter turn to spring before. Liza hasn't:

Adults believed that spring would come, somewhere deep inside, for all that they were careful of our rations. Some part of them couldn't imagine green wouldn't return to the world, as if green was something we were born to. I did not understand it. Deep inside I felt as if this gray had surely gone on forever, and the forests I'd fought all my life had been merely illusions.

The adults in Liza's town assure her she's worrying needlessly, even though it's not just oaks and maples and other deciduous trees dropping their leaves, but also evergreen pines and firs.

Karin, a faerie plant mage, offers no such reassurances, however:

The grasses sighed wearily and retreated back into the snow. "They're not dead," I said. "Not completely, not around you."

"They are not dead." Karin sounded as tired as the grasses had. "But they are dying. Tell me, Liza, do you believe that spring will come?"

Why ask me? I was no plant mage. "The adults in my town believe it." They believed in spite of the gray trees and gray skies, the failed crops and the too-long winter.

"So it is with the human adults in my town as well." Karin held a hand out to the falling snow as we walked on. Snowflakes melted against her skin. "Yet I have never heard the trees so quiet. They yearn for darkness, and some have given way to it. Others slip into sleep, accepting that they may never wake. I am told this is the way of your world. It is not the way of mine. I have never known a forest that was not green. What do you believe?"

So here's the contest. Answer Karin's question. Tell me: "Do you believe that spring will come?" And tell me why or why not.

You can answer in any form you like--a straightforward text answer, a story, art or music, some other form I haven't thought of. You can post your answer here, or you can post it in your own journal with a mention of Faerie Winter and link to it in a comment here. You can answer even if you live in a place where it isn't winter right now, too. (But where it will be winter by the time Faerie Winter comes out--that's April in the U.S. and Canada, May in Australia.)

Deadline: Whenever February ends. That is, midnight the last day of this month, in whatever time zone you live in. (If February doesn't end, no prizes will be given.)

Prizes: A signed copy of Faerie Winter, sent whenever I get my author copies, probably sometime in March. I'll choose (at least) one winner based on the responses themselves, and I'll also choose one winner completely at random. (Because anyone breaking through the cold and ice to take part in a contest deserves something just for that, right?)
Catsupertailz on February 4th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
Sometimes, when my thighs are so cold it feels bone-deep I am sure that Spring will never come to melt away the icicles that take up residence in my muscles.

Other days, in the morning, there is a bright, harsh sun shining on the snow and tiny little trees struggle to survive on the big avenues in little squares next to the road and I *know* that there's the sun is slowly melting everything back to spring.
We Were Like the World's Gayest Ninjasthunderemerald on February 4th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
:: (If February doesn't end, no prizes will be given.)

I believe in prizes, and therefore I believe that February must end. And if February ends, then spring will surely come.
patty1943patty1943 on February 4th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
Yes! It is spring already here in the north woods of Florida. The wild blueberries on the river bank are flowering. I think they may be sorry, but they think it is spring. The hickories don't however so we will be having more cold snaps. We know winter is over when the hickories begin to leaf.
Janni Lee Simner: streetpoppyjanni on March 7th, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
I think they may be sorry, but they think it is spring.

There are always plants like this, aren't there? That we don't know whether to chide for their foolishness or admire for their hopefulness.
dolphingirl455 on February 4th, 2011 09:39 pm (UTC)
I believe Spring will come, because if spring doesn't come, Faerie Winter won't come.

Spring HAS to come.
Janni Lee Simner: Faerie Winter snowflakejanni on March 7th, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
:-) :-) :-)
some guy named Larry: desertlnhammer on February 4th, 2011 10:28 pm (UTC)
not a complete poem, but a complete answer
Winter: sun departs around the earth's round,
cooling landscapes, weakening life by slant-light --
now and long high latitudes catch the less warmth,
        tilted away from

solar lamps. But elsewhere, the year has tight turns:
we in equatorial heights believe that
sunlight strengthens sooner than there in low lands.
        Spring here comes quickly.
movingfingermovingfinger on February 4th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
Spring is already happening where I am; plum and magnolia trees are blooming and a mockingbird who doesn't know about the local evil crows is singing up a storm to claim nesting territory.
Angela L. Foxazang on February 4th, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
Fun contest! Here's my answer: http://azang.livejournal.com/127917.html
Jazz: psychetheironchocho on February 5th, 2011 12:42 am (UTC)
Every autumn, my mother strikes up this conversation with me.
"Isn't it funny how the trees know?"
"How they know what?" I say, glancing at her under my knit brow.
"When it's winter. They know when it's cold and when to change color and fall off."
Sometimes I say, "I don't think it works that way," to let her very Romantic ideas down easy. Sometimes I chuckle or go "mmhm."
Sometimes my mother says, "They're smart."
How the conversation ends varies, but how it begins is always the same.

Winter may end with a snow that thaws until we can see the grass again or it may end so drastically it is here one day and gone the next. But spring always begins the same way: with a warm wind returned like a lost heirloom, with relief. Spring may not arrive as quickly as we or Liza would like it to, but it will come when it is ready. When it knows.
Janni Lee Simner: streetpoppyjanni on March 7th, 2011 06:38 pm (UTC)
Spring may not arrive as quickly as we or Liza would like it to, but it will come when it is ready. When it knows.

It is funny how they know, isn't it?

Once day, Liza will even believe it's true in her world as well as ours. :-)
John Higginbotham Jrcloudshaper2k on February 5th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
Oddly enough, I'm working on an SF short story "Waiting for Aslan" that would answer this - but I don't want to post it on the open net since I'm hoping to sub it. So, instead, I'll let Steven Curtis Chapman answer for me:
Janni Lee Simner: Faerie Winter snowflakejanni on March 7th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC)
That is a lovely song.

One could put it on a mix with "February" and some others as songs all about the nature of spring ...

(Hope the story is going well!)
starlady38 on February 5th, 2011 07:34 am (UTC)
Spring will come again, partly because I live in the land of eternal spring (California) now, and spring never really left, partly because otherwise we'd all be subject to the White Witch and her Winter, and partly because we've already had Christmas, which is proof positive that spring is on its way.
authorwithinauthorwithin on February 8th, 2011 07:13 pm (UTC)
What a fun contest . . . and inspirational too!

First I decided to write a poem:

Fallen leaves from trees are lost.
Windows white with lacy frost.
Biting wind to nip and sting;
We wait in winter's grip for spring.

Dead and brown no green in sight.
Winter holds with all its might.
Miss the birds that used to sing;
We wait in winter's grip for spring.

A ray of sun; hope shines through.
Switch the frost for morning dew.
Promise melting snowflakes bring;
We trade in winter's grip for spring.

Then I decided to pick up my pencils and drew too.
Photobucket Within each snowflake lives the promise of spring.

I also posted on my blog and linked back here (http://authorwithin.livejournal.com/86967.html)

Thanks for the inspiration!

Edited at 2011-02-08 07:36 pm (UTC)
Janni Lee Simner: Faerie Winter snowflakejanni on March 7th, 2011 06:34 pm (UTC)
I love that snowflake picture so much.

And chose it as one of the contest winners.

So, email me at janni@simner.com, and I'll send you a copy of Faerie Winter once my author copies arrive!

And thanks for the lovely entry. :-)
Harvestar / Karenharvestar on February 8th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
I'm reminded of the song "Wick" from The Secret Garden musical. (which is also my favorite book)

akamarykate: faithakamarykate on February 8th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC)
I got news this weekend that made me believe in spring again.

My sister, my baby sister who's 15 years younger than me, had a terrible fall. She's in the final stages of writing her dissertation and starting to look for a job in academia, both of which are stressful anyway, but they aren't what made it terrible. Within 4 months, she had a miscarriage, the original head of her diss committee died of cancer, and then my sister had a second miscarriage. She was struggling just to put one foot in front of the other.

This weekend she called to tell me that they're pregnant again, and she just finished the first trimester. She emailed me an MP3 of the baby's heartbeat. They're walking a tightrope between hope and fear, but hope is winning.

So I believe that spring will come, on or around August 20.
Janni Lee Simner: dancejanni on March 7th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC)
I never responded to this at the time, but it made me smile so much when I saw it. Yes. Spring is more than the unfurling of leaves.

I'm so happy for your sister, and all your family.

Edited at 2011-03-07 06:40 pm (UTC)
desertmorndesertmorn on February 9th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
Will Spring Come?
Of course. Spring must come, as the earth must revolve, and the planets must spin, and the universe must expand. It is was has been, and what will be. Always.

The question isn't whether Spring will come, but When? And How?

And in the midst of deepest slumber, the untrusting question, unsure, fearful.

But at the core of even the most dormant seed, a tiny speck of light endures. That light is Hope.

And Spring is Hope eternal.
brownkitty on February 9th, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
I believe that spring will come because the sun still rises. Spring will come, and Summer, and Fall, and Winter will come again, as long as there are night and day.