Morning Snow

The morning is a soft tint of blue, the gray of the sky fallen down in the night. The rain followed me home from Texas but last night I saw the first Dark-eyed junco at the feeder. My mother-in-law calls these little sparrows snowbirds and when I saw her little pink bill, I knew the weatherman was right.
Snow.
The meadow behind our home is a wonderland of down-covered grasses, branches muted by sleeping silver. My boys still dream upstairs, the house is quiet. So I pull on the long boots and go out to stand in the stuff. There is a magic in the first snow of the season—and I am spellbound.
All is still except the silent play of light across the gossamer lid. My cheeks grow rosy with the touch of the cool air and shivers came not from the temperature but from that deep place inside that tells me I’m alive.
This winter quiescent stirs my soul.  The roots deep within me hear the call of the winter sleep. Dream, the wind seems to say. Rest, is the whisper of the blackbird. Wait, say the hushing branches that give sway to the breeze.
All of nature reveals His glory and we are waiting to be revealed. But in the meantime, there is beauty. Beauty under my feet, beauty fills the space between me and heaven and I breath deep this new season.
bended tree—
with twiggy fingers
trailing along this crust
of snow…can you
bear the weight? lacy
tendrils of frost nip
at your ankles and
this heavy wreath of
crystalline drips
from your crown. How
do you stand winter’s
icy blast–folded under
so? your aged limbs,
a scroll, creased in upon
bowed body and tied
down. do you pray?
do you stare directly
into the sun–this
divagating philter in
which you beek? Await
the liberating thaw…
then you will arch your
back in piquant awakening
and reach once more
for brumal skies.

Beauty. Treatment

The snow fell soft again this morning, embracing this frozen crust in a thin layer of down.  I study gray havens on my way to work—see misty mountains floating in swirling shards of light. This is beauty and I drive by it every day and look right through it. But today I look at it–breathe in with more of me, and feel the free of driving through a thousand scattered snowflakes dancing down. 
This winter I have found the secret to a great mystery. A fool-proof anti-aging formula: 
Go outside when the snow is falling down + Turn face upward = Instant beauty treatment. 
It works better if the arms are held open wide. And maybe a twirl around or two. 
Since the day I committed to play outside every day, I have grown younger. Each day that first week, the boys and I went down to the creek on pilgrimage. We walked on water and poked at her hard surface with strong sticks. They used the sticks to pry up the edges of the creek–jagged chunks of diamond flipped onto the muddy bank. We peered through panes of ice at the benthic bed. We looked for signs of sleeping minnows or mud-burrowing frogs. 
All was still except the silent play of light across the gossamer lid. Our cheeks grew rosy with the touch of the cool air and shivers came not from the temperature but from that deep place inside that tells me I’m alive.
And then, after the summer frolic: the winter quiescent.  The roots deep within me hear the call of the winter sleep. Dream, the wind seems to say. Rest and wait for spring, was the whisper of the blackbird. We curl up under blankets and binge on stories. And because of the beauty treatment, we are tired…but it’s a good kind of tired so we sit in front of the fire and let the warm glow thaw these frozen roots. 
All the while, we are quiescent—waiting.
Contrary to traditional belief, forest ecologists now know that tree roots do not stop growing in the winter. We’ve always been told that this is the dormant stage–that during this season of cold and frost, the tree conserves valuable energy by falling into a deep sleep.  The tree shepherds tell us different. As long as the soil remains favorable–that is, between 32 and 41° F, the trees roots will continue to grow and do their job. Even when the air is fraught and frigid, the soil frequently maintains these mitigating temperatures. An early snow is even better—a heaping scoop of snow on top will protect the soil underneath from the harsh cold and insulate the root. During these times of winter growth, fine filaments of non-woody tree hairs creep out from the mother root—seeking nourishment and quenching the thirst of the winter quiescent. 
In front of the fire with my boys I feel the slow-hum of this invisible root growth. We let those tendrils creep slow, quietly absorbing all that brings new life–intertwining, tangling up in one another until we are joined in the deepest places. Beneath the soil of life, in the dirt and mud of winter we are woven into one. We rest, but we are not dormant—senses dulled in sluggish sleep. No, just the opposite. This rest brings life…it hones sagacity and opens hearts to deeper wisdom. We grow.
And thus, one final step in the beauty treatment:
Go outside when snow is falling down + Turn face upward + winter quiescence = instant beauty.
Try it for yourself. You’ll lose ten years. Maybe more.

This is written for Peter Pollack’s One Word Blog Carnival on Winter. Join the party? I’m also a little late to join up with L.L. Barkat for her On, In, and Around Mondays party.

We, the Beneficiaries

Heavy white hushes the hum of living. Footfalls sink silently into deep and breath becomes vapor. The heavens, a mirror, and my reflection lost in falling bits of pallid sky. The earth has been given a new robe, and we–the beneficiaries.
Yesterday, it all worked against me.
Yesterday, still is in my mind. There is the snow-buried car. The slow-moving traffic. The hour it takes to drive twenty-five miles to and from work. The patients with their faces pressed against the glass. The new one who broke my heart. Yes, she has the voice of an angel. And the snow keeps falling, falling.
Looks like you’re staying here with us tonight.
The patients joke and tease. We laugh and watch accumulation grow deep from within the warm walls of the hospital. I leave a little early, to the envy of the others. Ah, the joys of being a consultant with no benefits. I help a dear lady dig her car out in the lot and she tells me that she’s heard the interstate is impassable around Cross Lanes.
I make my way west and head to the boulevard. I want to escape the big trucks and ruts of slushy snow that keep pulling me into their clutches.  I drive along the river. That glassy womb holds flows of ice and small sternwheelers are docked at her edge. I imagine the moon in her belly, giving this iridescent light, pulling the sky into her depths.
Yesterday brought this today. Today, there is quiet. Peace.
I have promised the boys we will go sledding some time today. I see the light of Christmas shine on their sleepy faces. This coming week we will give Penny to her new home and I try not to cry when I think about it. I watch the diamonds that are hidden in the snow. The trees are heavy-laden and wear lace shawls. There is no sound but a quiet dripping.
Heavy white hushes the sound of the living. But there is this—this whisper of creation. The earth has been given a new robe and we, the beneficiaries.

Bended Tree: Poem

bended tree—
with twiggy fingers
trailing along crust
of snow…can you
bear the weight? lacy
tendrils of frost nip
at your ankles and
this heavy wreath of
crystalline drips
from your crown. How
do you stand winter’s
icy blast–folded under
so? your aged limbs,
a scroll, creased in upon
bowed body and tied
down. do you pray?
do you stare directly
into the sun–this
divagating philter in
which you beek? await
the liberating thaw…
then you will arch your
back in piquant awakening
and reach once more
for brumal skies.

This poem is in honor of One Shot Wednesday over at One Stop Poetry…and the recent snows we have received, of course. Head over to One Stop for some more verse–it will warm you up inside!