A Grammarian In Winter


Winter speaks in passive voice
conjugates brief slants of light
parses out cold stars along a tracery of oak.
Beneath the rising moon, fine participles gleam.
angling remnant leaves pull free
to tumble down the winds —
evocative declensions of a season raw, cold-boned.
Split by ice, the pond breathes smoke.
Split by cold, the blackened ferns release their sharded fronds.
Split by hoarfrost, fences drip, refreeze, lean out across the land.
Infinities abound.
Silent, shrouded by the pond’s slight breath
clear-eyed herons sweep the snow
as if to skry its source —
their spellbound cries declaim the day
and punctuate the  phrases  of the hills.


As always, comments are welcome.
Thanks to Shutterbug1 for allowing use of her lovely Minnesota winter photo. Some readers will recognize the poem, which has undergone multiple changes. I’m happier with it, and it certainly seems an appropriate posting.

117 thoughts on “A Grammarian In Winter

  1. Lovely! Often times winter does have a passive voice like you’ve described…and then there are the other times when its voice is anything but passive. Beautiful photo, too.

    1. Winter certainly is using its active voice just now, isn’t it? Still, like people, seasons have different faces to show to the world. The current blizzard was enough to tempt me to revisit and revise the poem. I’m glad I did, and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      1. I enjoyed too dear Linda, this is wonderful poem. And also photograph. But snowy days seem so fearful in some places, I watch on tv news. In here it snows like a powder sugar on a cake :) Thank you, have a nice day, love, nia

        1. We used to make a special cake, and put a paper cut-out doily on top. Then, we’d sift powdered sugar over it to make pretty patterns. I still make a cookie that I sift powdered sugar over. It’s a perfect way to think about snow — some snow, anyway. Not a blizzard, but well-behaved snow.

          I’m glad you liked the poem. Thank you for giving me a new way to think about snow. ~ Linda

    1. You and I know the truth, Oneta. Those years of memorizing vocabulary lists and diagramming sentences served us well: certainly better than we might have imagined at the time.

      1. Sometimes it is just fun to know something even if not often useful. It does add pleasure to be able to share it, however. I’m not real sure but I found at least eleven in sixteen lines – not counting second and third uses. I tried to make a connection with skry but couldn’t find grammar in it. Strained my brain! :D

        1. In the process of writing the poem, “scry” evolved from “scan,” as in, “scanning the horizon.” And scan is related to scansion — a way of determining and representing the metrical character of a line of verse. It’s not precisely a grammatical term, but it is a way of uncovering the structure of a poem.

          I’ve carried phrases like “iambic pentameter” with me for years, though I don’t ever start a poem by saying, “OK — let’s get with the iambic pentameter.” It’s just that some things sound right to me, and some sound “off.” It’s good to have scansion to help me figure out what I’m doing.

            1. Taking a clue from Paul Masson wine, I’ll publish no post before its time — remember that advertising slogan? — but I appreciate your eagerness. Research and writing do take time, especially when combined with varnishing and other interests. I’ve tried to add a few hours to my days, but haven’t succeeded yet. If I do, I’ll patent the method and be a rich woman!

    1. JAKA, one of my goals in reworking the poem was to improve the flow: the pace. I’m so glad you mentioned that as part of its appeal for you.

      I’m one of those strange ones who’s decided to forego the “like” button. But I’m delighted to have your comment, and thanks again for the mention on Twitter. You’re always welcome here.


      1. Well, you nailed it. And ‘strange’ is very often more interesting.

        I’ve a bad habit of slapping poems on ‘as is’ and never looking at them again — which is why it’s probably better I stick to reading poetry than writing it.

    1. Your echoing of “spellbound” reminds me of another of my favorite winter poems, Gerard: “Spellbound”, by Emily Brontë.

      “The night is darkening ’round me,
      the wild winds coldly blow;
      But a tyrant spell has bound me
      and I cannot, cannot go.

      The giant trees are bending
      their bare boughs weighed with snow.
      And the storm is fast descending,
      and yet I cannot go.

      Clouds beyond clouds above me,
      wastes beyond wastes below;
      but nothing dear can move me;
      I cannot, will not go.”

    1. It certainly has a way of bringing out your talents, Terry. In the process of working with this poem, I did some browsing through your snow and ice photos, just to help the mood along. They’re all so lovely — I found many that I’d forgotten, and enjoyed it immensely..

      Winter is a fine season. We haven’t had a freeze yet this year, but there’s still time. I’m hopeful.

    1. I remember the snows of my childhood and youth with great affection, Yvonne, and I’ve enjoyed more recent opportunities to live and vacation in snow. But like you, I’m just as happy to live in a place that doesn’t require snow tires and a shovel in the trunk. One of my northern friends tells me I’ve gone soft. I tell her I’ve gotten smart.

  2. I especially like the first three lines. What’s wrong with “Infinitives abound”? Always seemed to me winter had a lot of infinitives.

    1. Given the three “splits” that came before, I obviously considered “infinitives.” But it felt too obvious, too wooden. and didn’t fit the sense of the poem. “Infinities” is just right, juxtaposed as it is with the various finite realities I describe.

    1. I’m glad, Juliet. I love all the birds in winter, but the heron is special. I thought of you just the other day when a friend mentioned a place in his new neighborhood: Leith Hill. I remembered all your mentions of the Water of Leith and its walkway. We’re lucky to have such special places to enjoy.

  3. As I look out my home-office window at an historic accumulation of snow — so much so that my car is indistinguishable from the rest of the white landscape, I especially enjoyed this post. At my age, not only is winter passive, but it also makes me passive. When I was a newspaper journalist, a snowfall was a signal to go to work. Now it’s a signal to stay on the sidelines and let events unfold without my help.

    1. Ah — the buried car. A sure sign that winter has arrived. I remember the blizzard that buried my grandparents’ house to its roof line on the south, and drifted the doors shut. As blizzards will, it scoured the ground on the north, and grass was showing. My dad climbed out of a bedroom window with his shovel and, eventually, dug out one of the doors.

      I remember snowstorms not as a signal to go to work, but as a word of permission to hunker down, burrow in, grow passive — at least, until we had to start shoveling. Eventually, I might head out for a nighttime walk in the snow, or turn the lights out in the house and watch the snow swirling around the street lights, but for the most part, it was books and games, hot chocolate, and waiting, until nature finished her work. They were good times, and probably the genesis of the poem.

      1. The snowfall here from Friday night through yesterday was twenty-seven inches. I think the last time we had a snowfall that heavy was 1990, when Governor Whitman ordered the state shut down. That was the only storm severe enough to keep me from getting to the newsroom. We had an eighty-foot driveway at the time, and the snowfall was thirty inches, so I was sealed in until the plow truck came the following day. Some people got to the newsroom and the newspaper got off the presses, but the State Police wouldn’t let the trucks on the road. It was a matter of honor to get to the newsroom in a storm, and I and others slept in the building on many occasions, or in a hotel across the highway, to make sure we would be on the job. When the newspaper had been sent to the presses on such occasions, my colleague, Howard Alexander, invariably would quote Shakespeare’s Henry V: “And gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves accursed they were not here.”

        1. The weather phenomenon’s different, but the dynamic with hurricanes is the same. I know several people who camped out in newsrooms and radio studios during Hurricane Ike. And there were some truly heroic stories of people making it through Tropical Storm Allison to get to where they had an obligation to be. The extraordinary efforts of ordinary people during such events is inspiring: not to mention the efforts of the meteorologists.

      2. What I remember from being out in falling snow on Long Island as a child is how very quiet everything was. In contrast, I can still hear the sound of the aluminum shovel rasping on the sidewalk’s surface as I cleared the snow from it.

        1. That quietness is one of the best things about snow. It seems lots of people notice it, and ask questions. I found this:

          “Climatologist and snow expert Nolan Doesken, a transplanted Illinoisan now based at Colorado State University, tells me that snow possesses a remarkable ability to stifle sound…

          Doesken says falling snowflakes effectively absorb sound waves and greatly reduce the distance that sound travels in the air, and he adds that “when the ground has a thick layer of fresh, fluffy snow, sound waves are readily absorbed at the surface of the snow.”

          As for that shovel, I remember its rasping, too. I also remember what happens to the over-confident shoveler who makes a run down the sidewalk, only to have the shovel’s edge hit a gap in the concrete and bring things to a sudden halt. Good times.

    1. I think we’re easily tempted to stereotpye seasons: autumn is falling leaves and harvest, spring is baby lambs and flowers, summer is heat and storms. Winter seems to range between the excitement of a first snow and the sheer drudgery of getting through March — but there is a lot to see between, if only we look.

      It’s always a pleasure to have you stop by, Martha. Thanks so much for your kind words.

  4. Lovely observations of winter in the woods, although I don’t imagine you see much hoar frost out your way.
    Shutterbug1’s lovely Minnesota scene is a fine pairing with your poetic description.

    1. Isn’t that a nice photo? I’ve used it before, years ago, and still enjoy looking at it. There’s something about it that reminds me of Iowa winters.

      We don’t see much hoarfrost, although we do have a little snow now and then. People still remember and talk about the Christmas Eve snow of 2004. It was so beautiful — and substantial. Here’s the little snowman I made where I live, and the famous Galveston snow-surfer dude. The year of that snow, just about everyone on the Texas coast was in touch with their inner five-year-old.

        1. The neat thing about that snow is that it hugged the coast, all the way down to Corpus Christi. The closer to the coast you got, the more snow there was. Photos from some of the middle coast marinas are just amazing. My mom bought me a collection of the photos for Christmas the following year, and I still haul it out every year, and hope.

  5. Not capable of rhapsodizing about winter. Today the sky is leaden. Cement snow remains. Only good thing coming down the track is a mini-warm-up and rain. We’ve had a totally miserable winter with no pretty snow and the sleet and rain that mixed with what was down made it impossible to recreate! Subzero made the stuff stick around.

    Another Winter of Sit.

    1. Well, now. That is another face of winter, and a particularly unhappy one. It reminds me of a couple of recent winters here, when we didn’t have snow, but did have drizzle, fog, clouds, rain, and more rain. The only question was, which will it be today?

      It sounds like sledding is out, there, but that maybe ice-skaing could be in.

  6. Well, shoreacres, the first thing I must say about this beauty is that every single line break means. It’s beautiful to read silently, begs to be read aloud (which I would do right now were I on my own), and looks beautiful on the page. Brava.

    1. I thought you’d find that article interesting, Susan. As so often is true, it’s not a case of either/or, and I’m especially glad you can see this one as a both/and: good for silent reading, and for speaking aloud.

      I just peeked at your blog. I agree that simply laying out prose sentences differently on the page doesn’t create poetry. That’s one reason the etherees are such good challenges. Syllable counting may be the beginning, but all of the qualities of poetry — especially rhythm and rhyme — need to be there, too.

      I always read my poety aloud before posting, or have someone read it for me, which is better. Some of the new text to speech readers do pretty well for late night readings, too, despite their tendency to treat poetry like standard text.

      A brava from you always is welcome.

  7. “Silent, shrouded by the pond’s slight breath
    clear-eyed herons sweep the snow
    as if to skry its source —
    their spellbound cries declaim the day
    and punctuate the phrases of the hills.”

    My favorite, Linda. Beautifully done. It made me feel like I was there. –Curt

    1. Then my work here is done, as the saying goes. There’s no better compliment than hearing someone say “I felt like I was there.” I’m really glad you liked it, Curt. Out of curiosity, has there ever been a heron at Burning Man? I suspect there are some folks there who really could do something with the bird.

      1. There certainly should be a heron at Burning Man, Linda, but not that I remember. I’ll have to check my photos. There was a great Canadian Goose there this year by the name of Penny (made out of several thousand pennies). This was her second year. I’ll put up a photo. On another note, WP is behaving very strangely tonight. When I type fine it eliminates the f. ??? –Curt

        1. I noticed that missing “f” last night.. Even now, your fs are here, but not in the notifications. And some fs are there, but not all. The “fl” combination seems problematic. Over on the forums, people are reporting it — I just added a comment — so it will get resolved as soon as the happiness engineers wake up and get some coffee. Maybe.

          I’ll keep an eye out for Penny. It sounds like she could give a whole new meaning to “a penny for your thoughts.”

  8. I’m glad you indicated the photo was from Minnesota, Linda — I’d hate to think you were buried in such a winter scene (though I imagine a day or two of it would please you to no end…and serve to make you appreciate NOT having to shovel snow, ha!)

    Lovely poem, too. As one of those “weird kids” who happened to LOVE grammar — thanks to many dedicated nuns who insisted we learn the fundamentals, diagram sentences, and the like — this one speaks volumes to me.

    I don’t recognize it from its previous version, so I can’t really compare it to that, but I can assure you it’s most eloquent!

    1. If shoveling was the price of building a snowman, I might be willing to give it a go, Debbie. Heck, for a chance at a snowman and a snow angel, I’d shovel your walk. Throw in a midnight walk in falling snow, and I’ll do your driveway, too.

      I remember you mentioning that you really liked what now are called “language arts.” Have you ever noticed that bare tree branches look remarkably like the structure of a diagrammed sentence? Neither had I, until I started working on this poem.

      I’m glad you like it, and I hope the rest of your winter is more pleasure than pain.

  9. Liked this stanza so very much.

    Split by ice, the pond breathes smoke.
    Split by cold, the blackened ferns release their sharded fronds.
    Split by hoarfrost, fences drip, refreeze, lean out across the land.

    Infinities abound.

    I could see the spaces to infinities. Nice.

    1. Janet, your “seeing to infinities” reminded me of a song I’ll bet you remember, too. I haven’t heard it in years, and couldn’t find a version I really like, but Sarah Vaughan always is good.

      Spaces are important, in so many ways: space to breathe, to write, to love. I think most of us sense that. It’s why we’re constantly trying to declutter, clear out, organize — we’re after the space.

    1. But aren’t the differences delightful? And isn’t it wonderful that we can draw on experiences from decades ago for wisdom and for art?

      I’m so appreciative of your comment about the poem’s flow and imagery, Jane. It took some time for me to spot a couple of real problems with both, and it does seem they’re better, now.

  10. Lovely! I especially like that last phrase about punctuating the phrases of the hills. Nice!

    I am reminded of a January poem I wrote years ago (not the style or content – just that it’s about winter). I’ll have to drag it out.

    1. I hope you do give your poem another look, Dana. It’s funny how differently we sometimes see them after we’ve given them a rest for a while. It’s the season for winter poetry, that’s for sure.

      Believe it or not, the line about “punctuating the hills” first came to me when I was in grade school, and it involved cows rather than herons. I carried it with me all these years, and finally did something with it. It’s never too late!

    1. Hibernating is good, especially when it’s accompanied by all of our winter delights: books, music, chocolate chip cookies. Wine. Fleecy throws. Of course, the good news is that we can head out whenever we please, and then retreat again. We’re not stuck in our dens for months at a time.

    1. Ah, those forgotten words. Recently, I stopped in the library of a small Texas town, where they were having a book sale. For a dollar, I picked up a 1946 edition of “Fowler’s Modern English Usage.” it’s been revised since then, but it’s a delight book to browse. It’s always a delight to come across a word I once used, but had forgotten — like bumping into an old friend on the street of a strange city.

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed the poem.

  11. Ahhh well, there you go with another classic allusion!! I have to say that your words describe a far more passive and gently lovely circumstance than The Lion in Winter (Henry II of England) who was no grammarian and whose situation was far from passive or gentle. My favourite line from the movie, with Katherine Hepburn, was when she slumps down in the doorway saying something like “What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?”

    But, this poetry is so very lovely and I enjoyed all the clever grammatical tie ins. Plus I like the last verse with the use of skry and spellbound as a delightful form of bewitchment over the scene.

    1. I well remember “The Lion in Winter.” I’ve been a great Katherine Hepburn fan, and I enjoyed that film as much as any. The ups and downs do come; she had that exactly right. The line is just one example of the dry humor I remember from the movie. I ought to watch it again.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. Your comment about “bewitchment” brought to mind the old song from “Pal Joey’ — “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” Perhaps in the case of the poem, we should change that to be-wild-ered. Or, we could listen to Linda Ronstadt’s version of the song and be happy.

  12. Absolutely beautiful! How I enjoyed this, I re-read it several times…..you are one very talented gal. This should be published. Beautiful matching image too.xxx

    1. Oh, thank you, Dina. You’re too kind, really. But I’m so very glad you enjoyed the poem, as I enjoyed re-working it. I do think it’s good enough to submit somewhere. We’ll see.

      And, yes — Lori’s photos are a delight. She’s one who loves her cold weather, and I think it shows in the images. I do hope you don’t end up undone by whatever arrives there from our shores. Here’s wishing you a little sunshine and dry weather, even if it’s cold.

  13. As you might expect, I am most fond of this poem. I love the idea of seeing grammar in creation, since it too speaks a word to us. Infinities abound, indeed! Finitum capax infiniti est.

    1. One of my favorite Psalms (19) echoes your point, Allen:

      “The heavens declare the glory of God;
      the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
      Day after day they pour forth speech;
      night after night they reveal knowledge.
      They have no speech, they use no words;
      no sound is heard from them.
      Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
      their words to the ends of the world.”

      And bless our artists and musicians. They’ve found ways to communicate those words-that-are-no-words in ways the Psalmist couldn’t imagine. Here’s Haydn’s ” Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes,” from “The Creation,” teamed up with the Hubble.

      1. Thanks for this! I enjoyed it so much. Yes, Psalm 19 is a treasure to me, as is Psalm 148. If we put our ears to the ground, we might begin to hear these earthy hymns and lauds!

  14. That is a beautiful and clever poem, Linda. We spent the whole weekend on ice, so I was happy to read this. I love the cold, I love ice, unfortunately today it melted in warmish rain, but hoping for some more cold yet. We hiked at the canyons and enjoyed frozen waterfalls. That beauty never ceases to amaze me and take my breath away. Thank you for sharing your writing!

    1. Sometimes in winter, we’ll have frozen “waterfalls” in places where highways cut through the limestone cliffs. It’s such fun to see the forming icicles, and always reminds me of the kind of beauty you experienced over the weekend.

      Unfortunately, we’re not built for the kind of extended cold that guarantees ice, so the great winter mantra here is “pets, plants and pipes” — bring them in, cover them up, or insulate them, but ignore them at your peril. I haven’t had to bring my plants in even once. Like you, I’m still hoping for some real cold.

  15. Absolutely mesmerizing, Linda. “Infinities abound.” I wish I’d thought of that one. For a woman who lives in Texas where this isn’t an annual event in the same degree as the north, you sure have a handle on the white season!

    1. Well, maybe it’s just proof of something Flannery O’Connor said in “Mystery and Manners”: “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.”

      I certainly had years and years of snow in Iowa, and I often draw on those memories. I even can remember the smell of a coming snow. When that scent-that-isn’t-a-scent comes along down here, I get excited. It means we’ll have some of this, (although it’s been a while).

    1. We’re shivering over here this morning. It’s not so cold — 49 — but it’s rainy and raw. I suppose it’s what’s going to pass for winter over here. I’ll have to just re-read the poem a few times.

      I just realized that Ash Wednesday is only two weeks away. There’s no time for the grand series of posts I had in mind — you’re going to have to be responsible for the King Cake post this year, kiddo.

      1. Alas, I have not had time to bake the French version of galette I had in mind . . . and now doc has me on no carb diet. Twould be a shame to bake it and not try it!

  16. Very nice poem! It has beautiful metaphors describing the rhythmical interaction of snow in winter. The only winters I know are the mild ones from the southern States.

    1. Thank you, Maria. Winter means so many things to so many people. When I think of winter in northern California, it’s the golden grasses and blue skies that come to mind first. And of course, in Liberia, there wasn’t any “winter” at all, but only the movement between rainy and dry seasons.

      Still I love remembering those beautiful days of ice and snow, and sharing the memories.

  17. We came home one day last week to find our neighbouring pond had breathed smoke across the land – just hanging there in the silence. A very evocative piece of writing and a classic winter image, Linda.

    1. Whether they’re caused by warm air over cold water, or the reverse, I think winter fogs and sea smokes are magical. I learned this week that the apparent sound-dampening qualities are quite real. Like snow, fog absorbs sound — and bends it, too, from my experience. Trying to figure out where a fog horn is in the proverbial “pea soup” can be quite a trick.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the images, Andy: verbal and otherwise.

  18. To my mind, this is one of your very best etherees, Linda. As a lover of good grammar myself, I thought the way you unfolded the poem was fabulous. And words/image weave together seamlessly. Bravo!

    1. Thanks, Anne. I do have to note that this one isn’t an Etheree, though. Etherees depend on syllable count for their lines. This is just a plain old poem. On the other hand, given how many Etherees I’ve written, I’m not surprised you’d make the connection. It’s just proof that I need to branch out!

      That aside, I’ve been laughing a little since it occurred to me how odd it is to write a poem with so many grammatical references. It certainly puts the lie to all of those contentions that grammar is dry, useless, and boring. Well, except for people who think the same about poetry. For them, a poem about grammar would just double the dry and boring quotient.

      It really pleases me that you like it. Writing and reading poetry are pretty good ways to deal with January, don’t you think?

      1. Apologies for error, Linda! And it may not be an Etheree, but it’s much more than just a plain old poem…yes, poetry and January do go together. I am looking forward, though, to Ash Wednesday for Eliot-type reasons…

        1. I had no idea. My immediate reaction was that the Scots had it right when they associated learning with magic. Maybe that’s why, at times, I’ve felt both writing and photography to be enchanting.

  19. How can I not love a poem full of split infinities? (An aside – to amuse me during lots of time spent in waiting rooms, my cousin sent me Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Morris. I recommend it.)

    1. And when we tire of split infinities, we can amuse ourselves with the apparently infinite number of splits in the world: the 7-10 split down at the lanes, the split lip, the need to split a piece of pie, split seams, split seconds, the split hair… My, we could have fun.

      I’ve not heard of the “Confessions,” but I picked up “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” for a quarter, at a library book sale. I’m about halfway through, and I’m enjoying it. My favorite Oxford comma cartoon seems to have disappeared from the web, but there’s always this.

  20. As much as some people claim to hate/detest/dislike winter, and reading your post I’m thinking that maybe winter is a whole other emotion. Just my thought. However, it is an enlightening way to look at the season that so many people don’t enjoy all that much.

    1. Every season brings some gripes along with it, don’t you think? Winter gets too cold, hangs on too long. Autumn means gorgeous leaves, but a whole lot of raking. Summer? Down here, it’s the heat. The only season I can’t remember people criticizing is spring: cold people are happy to warm up, and people who dread summer’s heat are happy just to enjoy the moderate temperatures. Plus, there are all those flowers.

      Good and bad always are mixed. Sometimes, it’s just nice to focus on the good.

      1. Yes, people like to find something to complain about, it’s unfortunate. I like spring, but where I live (we) probably on average get less than a month of its warmth without the humidity. I’m just thankful to live a valley where most bad weather just passes over us!

        1. Tamara, you’ve reminded me of a fellow I know in North Carolina who refers to his place as the “dry slot.” It can be raining all the way around him — as close as only miles — and yet they often remain dry. And there’s an old saying in our hill country that tornadoes will “jump” valleys. Whether that’s true, I don’t know, but it is a comforting thought — at least for valley dwellers.

    1. And that’s one of the sweetest responses of all, Nan. If we can’t enjoy poetry, art, music — why bother?

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for commenting. You’re always welcome here.

      ~ Linda

    1. I like that aspect of the photo, too, Sheryl. It reminds me of days when winter isn’t precisely over, but the melts begin to swell the streams, and new snow makes everything pretty. There’s nothing nicer than the sound of running water after a long winter.

  21. What beautiful work – it shows such an understanding of winter’s subtleties. There are times – such as now – when this season can be anything but gentle. but curiously the aftermath is so often quiet and subdued.

    1. It’s often like that, and not only with snow. The aftermath of a blizzard, the hours after a thunderstorm, the days after a hurricane — always, there is a sense of quiet, and relief. It’s like a fever breaking, with a sense of relief flooding in.

  22. Lovely poem, Linda, and the photo is beautiful. Our winters get stranger and stranger: snow for days and then springtime for days. Who knows what is next? Unpredictable is how I would describe our winters.

    1. Unpredictable is one word, for sure. Or, we could just call it “variable.” We’re going to be in the 70s today and tomorrow, then into the 50s, and then, next week, cold. Really cold. Who knows? We may even have a freeze. It’s as it should be. The traditional date for pruning roses is February 14, give or take, and this year, I think we’re going to give a little, and dally for a week or so.

      As crazy as it might seem, I sometimes wonder if the human world hasn’t become so crazy, we’re all projecting it onto the weather. As one of my friends said this weekend, her winter’s turned into Trump vs. Carson — all bluster one minute, and barely noticeable the next. That made me laugh.

  23. Exquisite poem! Your play on words is absolutely delightful.

    I’ve been to the US four times. And, every time has been in winter. My first was in 1986. The company where I worked sent me to Connecticut to do a two-week course in computer programming. Coming from the Caribbean, I was caught by complete surprise when I saw the sun out, but experienced the bitter cold outside. I must confess, though, that I’ve grown to like it.

    My wife and I plan on visiting Florida this year. Based on her experience in 2013 (in Atlanta of all places), I strongly suspect she’ll insist on traveling in the summer (although Florida is generally known for its mild winters).

    1. Thanks so much, Andrew. And thanks for reminding me of that wonderful, bright, “snowshine” that I used to love so much. Have you ever heard the snow squeak? When it gets very cold, that’s exactly what it does. In other conditions, it can crunch, or swish — that’s usually blowing snow over hardened drifts.

      I like it, too. But I never would move back into it. For one thing, it’s harder to deal with as an old person. Kids love it, but I’m no kid any more.

      Florida’s lovely in any season, but I’d make it early summer, if I were you. You can put on a sweater if you’re cold, but, as you know, hurricanes are a little harder to deal with.

  24. I’m way late here, Linda, but I’d like to let you know that there are two images you’ve put into my mind that are settling in and may wind up in a new song one of these days–the passive voice of winter and the pond breathing smoke. Lovely thoughts indeed.

    1. There’s no such thing as “late” around here, Gary. I keep comments open on all my posts, and still am getting comments on my most-read post, which was written nearly eight years ago.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. It actually had its genesis in a stray thought I had while riding in the back seat of my parents’ car on the way to my grandparents’ house. The line was, “cattle, punctuation marks in the sentences of the hills.” The time was c.1956. Some things take time, I suppose.

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