The Dead Center of January

The night’s drifts
Pile up below me and behind my back,
Slide down the hill, rise again, and build
Eerie little dunes on the roof of the house.  

The moon and the stars
Suddenly flicker out, and the whole mountain   
Appears, pale as a shell.

Look, the sea has not fallen and broken   
Our heads. How can I feel so warm   
Here in the dead center of January? I can   
Scarcely believe it, and yet I have to, this is   
The only life I have. I get up from the stone.   
My body mumbles something unseemly
And follows me. Now we are all sitting here strangely   
On top of the sunlight.

~James Wright, “A Winter Daybreak Above Vence” from Above the River: The Complete Poems and Selected Prose.

This is our fourth day of house arrest with roads icy and drifted and temperatures sub-freezing – a windchill below zero. What sun has appeared is ineffective, as if it were fake news on a winter day.

The prediction is for a dramatic turn-around in the next couple hours with temperatures rising 16 degrees with the advent of southerly “pineapple express” breezes.

I’ll believe it when I feel it. In the past, the drama of a south wind breaking the curse of the icy cold happens so rapidly, we could hear it before we felt it. The sound of ice and snow falling, taking branches with them in the woods was like the rat-a-tat of target shooting. None of us were ready for it and the trees were literally breaking in response to the warming winds.

We can grumble and mumble (and do) but this is the only life we have in the dead center of a January snow and wind storm. We’ll just sit tight braced against the cold, like the hungry birds that flock by the dozens at our feeders, waiting for the warming winds to carry us right into February, preferably unbroken.

4 thoughts on “The Dead Center of January

  1. A joy to read and see as always. Growing up, we lived in house built in 1901 south of Seattle on a plateau which would have high winds and often deep snow, and reading your words and seeing the pictures brings back so vividly those memories of the wind coming though cracks and our fireplace bringing sometimes the only heat. But neighbors we had and somewhere there is a picture of a Norwegian gentleman pulling my sister and I along a snow covered road in a wonderful wooden sled that I long to find.
    Still only 12 degrees here in Ferndale with the chill factor, but so much warmer than recently.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The house and barn are shuddering under the onslaught of wind here, the fourth consecutive day. “Enough already,” was my first thought this morning and then I read your lovely post. Normally I enjoy whatever the weather throws at us – bring it on. It’s all part of the adventure of life. But I’m exhausted from dealing with frozen water, frozen hay bales (didn’t know that could happen), swapping out horse blankets, and the sad-eyed horses waiting to venture out. I loved your post particularly today, and as always!

    Liked by 1 person

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