She is the Thread Meant to Mend Hearts

May the wind always be in her hair
May the sky always be wide with hope above her
And may all the hills be an exhilaration
the trials but a trail,
all the stones but stairs to God.

May she be bread and feed many with her life and her laughter
May she be thread and mend brokenness and knit hearts…
~Ann Voskamp from “A Prayer for a Daughter”

“I have noticed,” she said slowly, “that time does not really exist for mothers, with regard to their children. It does not matter greatly how old the child is – in the blink of an eye, the mother can see the child again as she was when she was born, when she learned to walk, as she was at any age — at any time, even when the child is fully grown….”
~Diana Gabaldon from Voyager

Just checking to see if she is real…

Your rolling and stretching had grown quieter that stormy winter night
twenty eight years ago, but no labor came as it should.
A week overdue post-Christmas,
you clung to amnion and womb, not yet ready.
Then the wind blew more wicked
and snow flew sideways, landing in piling drifts,
the roads becoming impassable, nearly impossible to traverse.

So your dad and I tried,
worried about being stranded on the farm far from town.
Our little car got stuck in a snowpile in the deep darkness,
our tires spinning, whining against the snow.
A nearby neighbor’s earth mover dug us out to freedom.
You floated silent and still, knowing your time was not yet.

Creeping slowly through the dark night blizzard,
we arrived to the warm glow of the hospital.
You slept, your heartbeat checked out steady.
I slept not at all.

Morning sun glistened off sculptured snow outside our window,
and your heart ominously slowed when they checked.
We both were jostled, turned, oxygenated, but nothing changed.
You beat even more slowly, letting loose your tenuous grip on life.

The nurses’ eyes told me we had trouble.
The doctor, grim faced, announced
delivery must happen quickly,
taking you now, hoping we were not too late.
I was rolled, numbed, stunned,
clasping your father’s hand, closing my eyes,
not wanting to see the bustle around me,
trying not to hear the shouted orders,
the tension in the voices,
the quiet at the moment of opening
when it was unknown what would be found.

And then you cried. A hearty healthy husky cry, a welcomed song.
Perturbed and disturbed from the warmth of womb,
to the cold shock of a bright lit operating room,
your first vocal solo brought applause
from the surrounding audience who admired your purplish pink skin,
your shock of damp red hair, your blue eyes squeezed tight,
then blinking open, wondering and wondrous,
emerging saved from the storm within and without.

You were brought wrapped for me to see and touch
before you were whisked away to be checked over thoroughly,
your father trailing behind the parade to the nursery.
I closed my eyes, swirling in a brain blizzard of what-ifs.

If no snow storm had come,
you would have fallen asleep forever within my womb,
no longer nurtured by my aging placenta,
cut off from what you needed to stay alive.
There would have been only our soft weeping,
knowing what could have been if we had only known,
if God provided a sign to go for help.

Saved by a storm and dug out from a drift:
I celebrate each time I hear your voice singing,
knowing you are a thread born to knit and meant to mend hearts.

My annual reminder of a remarkable day when our daughter Eleanor (“Lea”) Sarah Gibson was born, hale and hearty because the good Lord sent a snow and wind storm to blow us into the hospital in time to save her. This year she became Lea Lozano, married to her true love Brian who is another gift from the Lord.

A Tumultuous Privacy of Storm

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.

Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson from “The Snow-Storm”

The barn bears the weight
of the first heavy snow
without complaint.

White breath of cows
rises in the tie-up, a man
wearing a frayed winter jacket
reaches for his milking stool
in the dark.

The cows have gone into the ground,
and the man,
his wife beside him now.

A nuthatch drops
to the ground, feeding
on sunflower seed and bits of bread
I scattered on the snow.

The cats doze near the stove.
They lift their heads
as the plow goes down the road,
making the house
tremble as it passes.
~Jane Kenyon “This Morning”

We’ve seen harsher northeast winds, we’ve seen heavier snow. Yet there is something refreshingly disruptive about the once or twice a year overnight snow storm: it transforms, transcends and transfigures.

So we stay home when the weather and farms demand we do, to feed and water ourselves and our animals and the wild ones around us. It is a quiet and private and tumultuous time, a time to be attuned to one another.

The ultimate snow day, when all is atremble.

BriarCroft in Winter


There’s a certain Slant of light, Winter Afternoons– That oppresses, like the Heft Of Cathedral Tunes– Emily Dickinson


She stuck her head out and took a deep breath. If she could eat the cold air, she would. She thought cold snaps were like cookies, like gingersnaps. In her mind they were made with white chocolate chunks and had a cool, brittle vanilla frosting. They melted like snow in her mouth, turning creamy and warm.
― Sarah Addison Allen


It is winter proper; the cold weather, such as it is, has come to stay. I bloom indoors in the winter like a forced forsythia; I come in to come out. At night I read and write, and things I have never understood become clear; I reap the harvest of the rest of the year’s planting. Annie Dillard




There are adventures of the spirit and one can travel in books and interest oneself in people and affairs. One need never be dull as long as one has friends to help, gardens to enjoy and books in the long winter evenings.
― D.E. Stevenson


I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth


Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. ~Edith Sitwell


In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. Albert Camus


In the bleak midwinter Frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, In the bleak midwinter, Long ago. Christina Rossetti


Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.
― Sinclair Lewis


Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people’s legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.
― Sarah Addison Allen


When there’s snow on the ground, I like to pretend I’m walking on clouds.
Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata


The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination. ~Terri Guillemets


Wild clouds lower and touch the thin evening
Fast snow dances in swirling wind.
…With one finger I write my sorrows in the air.
Du Fu


No orchard’s the worse for the wintriest storm;
But one thing about it, it mustn’t get warm.
“How often already you’ve had to be told,
Keep cold, young orchard, good-by and keep cold.”
Robert Frost


Snow has fallen on the pine-woods,
and every bough has blossomed.
I should like to pluck a branch
and send it to where my lord is.
After he has looked at it,
what matter if the snow-flowers melt?

Chong Ch’ol


Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four o’clock, warm hearthrugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.
― Thomas de Quincey


When the cold comes it arrives in sheets of sleet and ice. In December, the wind wraps itself around bare trees and twists in between husbands and wives asleep in their beds. It shakes the shingles from the roofs and sifts through cracks in the plaster. The only green things left are the holly bushes and the old boxwood hedges in the village, and these are often painted white with snow. Chipmunks and weasels come to nest in basements and barns; owls find their way into attics. At night,the dark is blue and bluer still, as sapphire of night.
― Alice Hoffman


The wind is keen coming over the ice;
it carries the sound of breaking glass.
And the sun, bright but not warm,
has gone behind the hill. Chill, or the fear
of chill, sends me hurrying home.
from Walking Alone in Late Winter
Jane Kenyon


Descending the steps into that dark root cellar brought apprehension as well as anticipation. I was uncertain what critter may unexpectedly surprise me on the inside–bullfrog? snake? but the blast of cool air on a hot summer day was always a welcome relief. There was one hanging light bulb in the middle with a pull chain, and once the insides of the cellar were illuminated, a colorful trove appeared from the shadows, lined up on shelves like the ghostly discoveries in King Tut’s tomb.

These were not gilded treasures, but the kind that were lovingly and carefully harvested, washed, boiled and preserved in the midst of a sweaty summer, to be savored during dinners served on the coldest of winter days. The potatoes lay in the cool darkness, not tempted to turn green or sprout, and the “keeper” apples and pears remained firm and tasty. Even in the coldest of winter blasts, the root cellar contents never froze or rotted. It was the best refrigeration system imaginable and didn’t cost a thing to maintain.
Emily Gibson


I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood. ~Bill Watterson

BriarCroft in Spring

BriarCroft in Summer

BriarCroft in Autumn

BriarCroft at Year’s End