The sun came up chased by dogs Across a field of snow. As they passed the pile of broken logs Frost fluttered in the air Between the birch trees Standing in that spot exactly Where the ridge becomes a hill.
The sun goes in animal delight Over the farthest edge of earth Not far ahead of night And jumps into the dark pool With a last great splash of light. ~Tom Hennen from “Winter, Thirty Below with Sundogs” from Darkness Sticks to Everything.
Winter reduces me to my elements: light/dark chilled/warm hungry/sated empty/filled sleep/awake gray/gray.
It is a holding pattern of endurance, awaiting a sun that will linger longer, arrive earlier, and actually be felt, not just apparent in the distance.
I pray for a dawn or twilight splashed with color. Lord, any imaginable splash of color will do.
Moss the color of malachite weaves its way up and under bark crevices of an old oak. Enchanting furry tendrils reach out as I walk past, my head burrowed against the January morning fog.
Because it seems the sun has vanished for the foreseeable future, I am so lost in grayness I resist the curled invitations to dig deep, to engage to applaud the colors of the fog even as it surrounds me. ~Claire Weiner,”The Sun is in Hiatus” from VerseWrights Journal
Come here and share the rain with me. You. Isn’t it wonderful to hear the universe shudder. How old it all, everything, must be. ~Eileen Myles from “And Then the Weather Arrives”
I’m looking longingly at a weather prediction for rain all day. I want gray, wet and miserable when I am buried in a windowless room at work all day.
Some winters bring too much perfection for too long: 360 degree views of snowy mountains and foothills that gleam in the sun, glistening crystalline fields of frost, sparkling clear waters in Puget Sound, and bright blue cloudless skies. It is difficult for any northwest native to tolerate. It is hard work keeping up the smiles and general good humor that goes with excellent weather. There is always a clear expectation that one should be outside enjoying the rare sunny day, when it is far more appealing to curl up with a good book and a warm dog by a roaring fire, pretending not to notice how nice it is out.
We native Washingtonians are congenitally grumpy people, born to splash through puddles and lose our boots in footwear-sucking mud. We don’t carry umbrellas because they are useless when our horizontal rain comes from the side, not from the top. We wear sunglasses on mid-winter sunny days because we can’t possibly get our eyes to adjust to so much brightness. We perpetually wear sweatshirt hoods and baseball caps, even when we are indoors, just in case, because you never know.
Gray is preferred. Gray with wet and cold is even better. No one even questions my staying sequestered inside on days like this. Being in a good mood would be highly suspect.
So I savor the opportunity to act outwardly disgruntled with such obvious justification as a rainy evening.
Downright crabby. No apologies needed. No excuses given.
Than these November skies Is no sky lovelier. The clouds are deep; Into their grey the subtle spies Of colour creep, Changing that high austerity to delight, Till ev’n the leaden interfolds are bright. And, where the cloud breaks, faint far azure peers Ere a thin flushing cloud again Shuts up that loveliness, or shares. The huge great clouds move slowly, gently, as Reluctant the quick sun should shine in vain, Holding in bright caprice their rain. And when of colours none, Not rose, nor amber, nor the scarce late green, Is truly seen, — In all the myriad grey, In silver height and dusky deep, remain The loveliest, Faint purple flushes of the unvanquished sun. ~John FreemanNovember Skies
The austerity of November: we are not yet distracted by the holiday lights of December so must depend upon the light show from the sky. I failed to rouse myself for the predicted northern lights in the middle of the night but sunrise comes at a civilized 7:30 AM. I’m too often buried deep in clinic when the lights dim at sunset before 4:30 PM.
Late November skies reward with subtlety and nuance, like people ripening with age — beauty is found amid myriad gray, the folds and lines shining with remembered light and depth.
The room darkened, darkened until our nakedness became a form of gray; then the rain came bursting, and we were sheltered, blessed, upheld in a world of elements that held us justified. In all the love I had felt for you before, in all that love, there was no love like that I felt when the rain began… ~John Updike from “The Blessing” from Collected Poems.
As the rains return, we shelter together, blessed by years and miles, our unknown become known, our understanding breathed in silence. Though we be gray as the clouds above, our hearts beat in synchrony each pulsing moment more sacred than the last.
The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
August has been particularly wearing on so many folks this year, aging us beyond recognition after weeks of smoke-filled horizons. Those whose forests and homes have burned have nothing but cinders to return to. My concerns are mere in comparison, as the ash sent forth from such destruction is only irritant and inconvenience, rather than the residue of lost life.
Yet no one thrives in a world of fire and ash as we go gray as the sky, as if we have lived one summer too many.
I dream of what was: green and lush foliage and cool rains with the occasional welcome glimpse of a yellow, rather than red, sun.
Color the gray away to thwart the inevitable? Not this woman. I await a different beauty, even if only in my dreams…
Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom, the moon only when it is cloudless? To long for the moon while looking on the rain, to lower the blinds and be unaware
of the passing of the spring – these are even more deeply moving. Branches about to blossom
or gardens strewn with flowers
are worthier of our admiration. ~Yoshida Kenko
Sometimes the mountain is hidden from me in veils of cloud, sometimes I am hidden from the mountain in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue, when I forget or refuse to go down to the shore or a few yards up the road, on a clear day, to reconfirm that witnessing presence. ~Denise Levertov “Witness”
Even on the days like today when the mountain is hidden behind a veil of clouds,
I have every confidence it is there.
It has not moved in the night, gone to another county, blown up or melted down.
There are more days its snowy peak is hidden
than days it is blossom-stark floating cloud-like above the horizon of our barn roof
Visitors to the farm are too often told “the mountain is right there”
as I point to a bank of nondescript gray clouds
My loving and longing for it, my knowing it is always there, in hiding,
moves me more than the days it is simply given to me.
I keep coming back to gaze, sometimes just at clouds, yearning to lift the veil, and lift my veil, just one more time.
The beauty of anticipation,
confident of fulfillment to come
to be slaked
my hunger to be
new year’s eve- in the echo of fog horns another voyage starts – Keiko Izawa
I grew up on a small farm located about two miles from a bay in Puget Sound. When I awoke, I knew it was a foggy morning outside even before looking out my bedroom window. The fog horns located on coastal buildings and bobbing buoys scattered throughout the inlet would echo mournful moans and groans to warn freighter ships away from the rocky or muddy shallows. The resonant lowing of the horns carried miles over the surrounding landscape due to countless water particles in the fog transmitting sound waves so effectively. The louder the foghorn moan heard on our farm, the thicker the mist in the air. Those horn voices would make me unspeakably sad for reasons I could never articulate.
Embarking on a voyage in blinding foggy conditions, just like starting a new year, portends both adventure and risk. Of course I’d prefer to see exactly where I am headed, carefully navigating with precise knowledge, eventually winding up exactly at my intended destination. The reality is that the future can be a murky mess. We cannot see what lies ahead: we navigate by our wits, by our best guess, but particularly by listening for the low-throated warnings coming from the rocky shores and shallows of those who have gone ahead of us.
I am still too easily lost in the fog of my fears – disconnected, afloat and circling aimlessly, searching for a touch point of purpose and direction. The isolation I sometimes feel may simply be my own self-absorbed state of mind, sucking me in deep until I’m soaked, dripping and shivering from the smothering gray. If only I might trust the fog horn voices, I could charge into the future undaunted, knowing there are others out there in the pea soup prepared to come alongside me as together we await the sun’s dissipation of the fog.
Now I know, over sixty years into the voyage, fog does eventually clear so the journey continues on.
Even so, I will keep listening for the resonant voices of wisdom and caution from shore, and at times raise my voice to join in.
Instead of echoing the moans and groans of my childhood mornings, may I sing an anthem of hope and promise.