Dear Winn – 21 March 2020

Dear Winn,

A strange dawning today, my friend. About a foot of snow fell on Thursday, that wet, heavy snow that lingers long. Everything this morning is flocked, quite christmassy. Plus, our neighboring town of Palmer Lake lit their “star” yesterday—a grand astralation of bright bulbs on the side of Sundance Mountain which you can see for miles. It typically shines over the Christmas and New Year holiday season, July 4th too, but they made an exception as folks around here need some visual bolsterings of hope right now. So, sitting at the kitchen table looking outside as Saturday gets started, my heart feels like it’s Christmas. Oh, and all the kids being home almost seals the deal. Except in my brain I know it’s not Christmas. It’s not.

I shoveled that wet, heavy snow from the driveway yesterday. My neighbor, Bruce, walked by on his way to help another neighbor (single mom) shovel. Bruce is a good guy, a fireman, tough, no b.s. sorta character. I’ve always liked him, and we’ve always got along well. We talked for a few minutes and he told of men he knows stockpiling guns and ammo for when this all breaks down and they need to defend themselves or hold me up at gunpoint while they steal my toilet paper and ground beef. As I said, Bruce is no bullshit, he was stone-face serious when he said that. Then he said, “John, I’m scared.”

Yeah, it’s not Christmas. It’s March in ‘Merica, and I fear we’re still on the front end of this, this whatever this is.

If we make it through today and tomorrow comes, well, I’ll officially be 53yrs old. Gotta tell you, pal, it’s disorienting to type the number 53. How’d I’d get here so fast? I swear. My top-drawer children pooled their money and presented me with an early birthday present—a subscription to The Paris Review. How’d I get such stellar kids? I swear. Months ago now I tried to read the interview with James Salter and got short-sheeted with the “want to read further? then subscribe” message. Yesterday I stretched long my mental legs and read the entire glorious piece. Man, what a feeling. I’m now on the hunt for, in addition to toilet paper and ground beef, a used-but-in-good-condition copy of Light Years.



I’ve read that the notion behind Light Years came from a remark by Jean Renoir.



“The only things that are important in life are the things you remember.” Yes, I like that idea. I came across it after I was working on the book. But no matter, it authenticated something I felt. I wanted to compose a book of those things that one remembers in life.



I share a birthday with Abbey, so tomorrow she’ll officially be 18yrs old. I swear. We’re trying to figure out how best to celebrate. I found one box of brownie mix at the store, no lie, one left on the shelf. Peppermint-chocolate flavor which, let’s face it, tastes like Christmas. Maybe Abbey will look back on all this, this whatever this is, and remember her 18th birthday party, a day spent solely with her family in the glow of flocky snow and the Palmer Lake star, a birthday that felt like Christmas, even though it wasn’t. But it felt like it, and that’s important. Maybe she’ll remember. I know I will.

I swear.








Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,319 other subscribers


  1. Irv Halter on March 21, 2020 at 8:07 am

    Happy Birthday John! Pitch perfect as always…

  2. Susan Awes on March 21, 2020 at 9:15 am

    I’m in Colorado Springs on occasion and know that Palmer Lake star and the cheer it brings. I’ve also dined in that little berg at a couple of world-class restaurants and wonder if they’re still there. Bless your 53rd and Abbey’s 18th. Fun to eavesdrop on your conversations with Winn.

  3. Gretchen on March 21, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Happy Birthday to you both. Yes, feels like Christmas time in the Twilight Zone—looks okay, but something’s off.

  4. Evan Welcher on March 21, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    That’s the rich stuff.

  5. Dr Lynn SCHRINER on March 21, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    I liked this, I miss the star..and the normal sense of the air around us (even if it’s polluted sometimes) the wind is carrying something far graver than chemicals….It is carrying the sounds of fear all around the world. I think you write your very best when you write to your friend. I think friends have a way of bringing out the very best in us.

  6. Marilyn Yocum on March 21, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    HaPPy BiRTHDaY, John and Abbey! Life is too short not to celebrate birthdays. I’m sure this one will be a memory-maker.

  7. Sarah Sansbury on March 22, 2020 at 3:51 am

    This piece made me tear up and smile in equal measure. Thank you John! Sending love from locked-down France. ??❤️?

  8. Tara Owens on March 24, 2020 at 9:43 am

    Thank you. It’s a few days later, and more than a few degrees warmer, but somehow these words made finding a little bit of light in this strange times a lot easier.

Leave a Comment