Years ago, we spent a winter at our vacation cottage on Lake Ontario while our retirement home in Pennsylvania was being built. Back then, I was telecommuting as a writer and editor for a publishing company, my husband had recently retired, so relocating for several months made a lot of sense.
Winter is spectacularly beautiful at the lake. It snows, but the snow stays clean, and when it isn’t falling the sky is cobalt blue. A blanket of diamond-bright stars shimmer in an inky black sky on clear nights. From the bluffs, rivulets of melting snow meander through white fluffy banks down to the beach, and small translucent aqua-colored icebergs, layered from frozen waves, line the jagged shoreline. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can see northern lights.
Then, writing was my livelihood, but I needed another creative outlet to clear my mind when I wasn’t working. I decided to try my hand at photography, purchased a small digital camera, and almost every day set out to photograph the beautiful winter wonderland where we had elected to live.
I photographed everything: trees barren of leaves; the angry, gray sea; an ice-covered light station; the frozen bay; the rocky beach; sea grasses bending with heavy snow; the graceful gliding of swans; and solitary figures walking along snow-covered paths. I photographed in black and white, sepia and color, and, encouraged by family and friends, exhibited and sold some of those prints. It was a magical winter.
In the spring we moved back to Pennsylvania and into our new home. But we missed our lakeside community and the easy and comfortable lifestyle we had come to enjoy. I missed the inspiration to create. Several years later, we sold that retirement house and moved permanently to the lake.
By then I had also retired, so for the first time in my adult life had the freedom to create however I chose. Would it be photography or writing, or both? I decided to focus on writing which is what I loved best, although photography still, occasionally, beckons. That first winter here inspired me to interpret village life with pictures. Now I would paint pictures with words. But in what way and how?
For some reason I envisaged a series of Cozy mysteries featuring a retired police chief turned criminal consultant and his charming and accomplished wife. In my mind, I made friends with the characters; the setting was based on where we live. Ideas for plots emerged. My first book was published this past April by Cozy Cat Press, book two is in the works. I was one of 22 authors who recently collaborated on another Cozy, Wheel of Death.
I had no idea when we spent our first winter here that I would be inspired to create, first by pictures, and then by words, stories that reflect this wonderful village that we now call home. But it happened, and I’ll be forever grateful that it did.