It seems there’s no help for it. Despite last night’s frontal passage, a twenty-degree drop in temperature and cloudy skies, the wisteria continues to bloom. For that matter, some sweet evening primrose are blooming, along with loquats, redbuds and azaleas. Coots are massing to head north, and baby ducks already are waddling about on the grassy banks. It’s an early spring on the Texas Gulf Coast, and winter-lovers are morose. Our last chance for a frosty, freezing blast – perhaps for even a flake or two of snow – has passed.
This is when neighbors come in handy. I was raised to believe it’s perfectly acceptable to knock on a neighbor’s back door, measuring-cup in hand, and ask for sugar or milk. This time, I was a little short on winter, so I went knocking at the door of Gerry Sell’s house up in Torch Lake, Michigan. She and her neighbors just received a good dumping of snow, and I was sure she’d be more than willing to share. She was, and as you can see from the photograph, the view from her Writing Studio and Bait Shop is lovely. I’m sure her woods can be dark and deep at times, but after this storm they were all sunshine and glimmer.
Once I had Gerry’s snow, I stirred it up with a few of my own words and tasted again just how delicious winter can be – particularly when you don’t have to shovel it, plow through it or knock it off your roof. Whether you still have Winter and are longing for Spring, or are in the midst of a too-early Spring and wish Winter would dawdle, this is for you – an appreciation of a hard season that has its own sharp-edged beauties.
The Grammarian in Winter
Winter speaks in passive voice,
conjugates brief slants of light
and parses out cold stars along a tracery of oak.
Beneath the rising moon, fine participles gleam.
Dangling remnant leaves pull free
to tumble down the winds,
evocative declensions of a season soon unbound.
Split by ice, the pond breathes smoke.
Split by cold, the blackened ferns grow crisp and shatter at a touch.
Split by hoarfrost, fences drip, refreeze and lean across the land.
Silent, shrouded in the pond’s slight breath
cattle cast their longing gaze past perfect sweeps of snow.
Skrying out spring’s synonyms,
their spellbound lowing sings a season’s turning
and punctuates the sentence of the hills.