RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Snow

Winter Nights

Despite the title, this is a Christmas poem. I wrote it several years ago about the joy and anticipation I felt, as a child, at this time of year. This was embedded in family and community rituals I experienced growing up. In a consumptive and materialistic world, some of this has been lost. What I do is hold onto the memories.

We lived in an old house and it was often very cold. In the evenings, my mother and three older brothers went across the street to the church for evening mass. This was part of the rite of passage for me. In junior high, I joined them.

Many evenings, I sat by the heavily frosted window to watch my mother and brothers return. Some of those evenings were clear, the sky filled with stars, and sometimes the Northern Lights were part of Nature’s light show.

Breathlessly awaiting,

Through frosted window peering

Small children–

Soaking it in.

Heavens rippling–

Lights undulating;

A celebratory fury

An indisputable guide.

An old house speaking;

Nature answering–

The heavens crackling

Sweet symphonic music.

Earth’s floor–

Blanketed in white

Celestial colours shimmering

Capturing young eyes.

A vivid winter scene,

A sensual, sensory palette,

Reminding–

Christ’s Mass draws near.

I took this picture at the farm this past weekend. The sun goes down early here at this time of the year. They had just had fresh snow, with about 8-10 inches falling in one day, so the scene was still quite untouched.

The Other Kingdoms

It is Sabbath and winter arrived over night. It snowed and is colder. Mary Oliver`s poem speaks about the way the Inuit use many expressions describing snow. In doing so, they are mindful and aware of the world they live in. It speaks to them and shares its experiences in ways words used are meaningful. But, it happens only when we are present and attentive of extraordinary events co-mingling with the ordinary world we think we experience. We rush past the world and lose the words it speaks quickly. We lose the kingdom we live in unless we slow down and drink from its cup fully.

When we slow down, we grow wild and are in the wild world around us and in us. The wildness animates us and we live more fully. Snow today means slippery roads, drivers who have forgotten what it means to drive in the snow, and a blanket beginning to cover the ground as it slumbers. Snow means more than just one word to me. It is how I experience the snow that speaks of snow. There is nobility in the titles the world carries that we have not given names for and can not find the words for those titles.

Consider the other kingdoms.  The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals.  Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze.  Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be.  Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.

Snow

I chose this poem by Louis MacNeice for various reasons which is one of the poem’s underlying themes. The poem is about the fragmented ways we see the world. Humans are limited in that sense, but being mindful, present, and attending to our immediate world begins to offset this and present a more complete picture.

There is always a (w)hole in the hole, a sense of mystery, but it seems less challenging and we see the extraordinary we might otherwise miss. We are in the world not separated from it by windows and walls we construct.

Spokane received snow yesterday and it is easy to wish spring were here or summer. But, the snow added a backdrop and left provided a crisp world that has lasted into today.

This morning, I watched a squirrel tentatively climb snowy tree limbs. It moved slowly, but eventually reached its food. It was a blessing to be in the world and not outside.

The room was suddenly rich, and the great bay window was

Spawning snow and pink roses against it

Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:

World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,

Incorrigibly plural, I peel and portion

A tangerine and spit the pips and feel

The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world

Is more spiteful and gay than an one supposes–

On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands–

There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

%d bloggers like this: