Posted in Short Stories

Mary Ann Taylor-Hall: Winter Facts

Deal Me In 2020 – Week 13

Because of the uncertainty of her situation, she had been till now mainly a forager. In the coming spring, she would evolve into a planter. She had gardens on the brain. She thumbed grandly through catalogues, making lists, sat up late drinking hot toddies and reading last year’s issues of Organic Gardening.

Or sometimes James Joyce.

The theme of “home” recurs frequently and not surprisingly in the stories included in Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories edited by Morris Allen Grubbs – home in all sorts of ways.

In Mary Ann Taylor-Hall’s story “Winter Facts”, home is a place it seems that Kate Gallagher has never been. In the midst of a crumbling marriage, she leaves the big city to live in an old rural farmhouse. While gardening and chasing her neighbor’s pony, she develops a life of community and a life of home.

The majority of the story is set in winter and coincides with getting a letter from her husband talking about divorce. It ends with a future Kate resting in the warmth of summer and in a new sense of belonging.

This isn’t a story full of happiness and in spite of the setting it’s not folksy. It doesn’t tug at any heartstrings or try to pull any emotional punches. But all in all, it’s a story that I would describe as pleasant. With details of the landscape and the gardens and the neighbors, Taylor-Hall subtly paints a portrait of a deceptively strong heroine.

She arranged wildflowers in jars, watched the shadows of leaves moving in the wind on the many-colored walls. That was euphoria, innocence. Now she was settled in with the winter facts of her situation.

I read this story when I selected the Ace of Clubs for Week 13 of my Deal Me In 2020 short story project. Check out my Deal Me In 2020 list here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

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