Trees curl their dendritic appendages inward, protecting their nakedness from the elements. The atmosphere is withdrawn, seeming silent —lifeless. Without any dressage winter appears bleak and barren. Blossoms have long vanished with summer’s blush. No harvest grain endures and even the leaves have abandoned their lodgings. Nothing but essentials exist: the stalwart trunk, the hard-packed soil, the sluggish undertow. Storms manifest in rolling waves, their twisted gales unyielding, wilting all but the hardiest. In this desolation one lone bird, perched on a shorn bough, sings in praise of chilling tempests and frozen nights. My heart opens to this feathered cantatrice and wonders at the trespasser’s joy. How can such a creature, so far from the comforts of warm tides and ripe fruits bespeak such merriment?
Winter’s gelid embrace impels me into hiding. I retreat to the security of snug abode and blazing hearth. I shut down within my vault, forsaking the blue-grey world and its starkness. The winged interloper, however, descends upon my windowsill each forenoon, impervious to winter’s mockery, and trills to me in ecstasy. She inspires me to welcome the nothing that is alive outside, to reach for nature’s bony arms, and to see beauty in her skeleton. Can leafless wood be alluring? Can I find charm in the exposed? Can scaffolding be exquisite?
Winter’s bareness is a frightening reminder of my impending hoary decay, of feeble limbs and torpid mind creeping around the corner. I am not ready to meet my evening shadow. I can never love the sooty fog that lingers in pools across the wasteland during this season, yet I want to appreciate the strength of what is left behind. I shall revel with the tenacious roots as their icicle encrusted berries sway in the gusts. I need to greet the arctic blast with joy like my cheerful songbird. In so doing, perhaps I can also learn to welcome the winter of my life, attempt to embrace old age, and venture to blithely sing whilst in my doddering steps.
A blackbird soars over the snow laden bay reminding me that winter also provides the freedom of an empty canvas. Underneath the close-packed covering lie half-dead seeds anticipating first thaw. In the same expectant soil my stories mark time beneath the frost, ciphers awaiting discovery. My songs are not jetsam, utterances hashed out of miscellaneous font and hodgepodge type. I have reaped kindred thoughts from autumnal pasts, fashioning them anew in agony. I have sown these handful of strophic pips, watering them in lachrymose turmoil. Now I must let the verses hibernate until some future summer when, awakened by an unknown generation’s clarion, they will bear issue.
Winter’s solitude creates a space for reflection, but it demands patience. This is not the season of titillation, it is one of yearnings. Between the ponderous silences and the raging mistrals, winter forces me to keep vigil for what will be, without promise of tomorrow. The mantle between life and death flutters, a divide as capricious now as the howling of wind and wave. Months of dark and bitter cold intensify the desolation and dim memories of hope. In isolation’s communion, however, a faded lamp appears to light my inarticulate expressions. A sibilation threads through the vacant darkness, piercing my hebetude. “Go forth into the uncharted,” it whispers, “the wisdom of dotage is exploration.” Risking frostbite and failure, therefore, I venture out under starlight with no destination, no plan, no ready remarks at hand. Lost and lost again while searching how to capture the wordless moment, I gaze at the flakes wafting across a deserted scape. In their infinitesimal transience live imponderable themes and winter’s ultimate lesson: fallow field or frail creature we keep moving in a circle towards a homeland from which no tales return.
Winter is a beloved theme for many poets, tackling subjects of sleep, solitude, and death using the season’s imagery. “Alms” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Dust of Snow” by Robert Frost, and “Voronezh” by Anna Akhmatova are three that discuss love, hope, and loss.
What are your favorite things about the winter season? Have any winter themed poems you want to share with us?
I am reading your lovely lines in the midst of summer, and I cannot imagine being in the middle of winter. I feel similarly about summer when I am surrounded by snow and short days. But is it not reassuring to realize that the seasons will recur and remind us that everything has its time?
🙂 Thank you for your beautiful words. It is comforting to know that everything has its time and something I am more aware of these days than I used to be. I always think of Edward Fitzgerald’s line in “Solomon’s Seal,” “This too will pass away.”
Thank you for responding and for elucidating the provenance of “This too will pass” for me.
🙂 You are most welcome.
Why am I seeing a mental image of Winterfell ..
Beautifully written as always
🙂 GoT does winter and its variations very well….Thank you for stopping by!
The berries photo is exquisite, but I’ve had too much wine to appreciate your lovely prose. (I needed it to peel sprouts and turnip 🙂 ) God bless!
Heh heh. This is the first I’ve been told that my prose sounds better BEFORE too much wine. Good luck with the sprouts and the turnip. Sending you heaps of gratitude for sticking around to read and support so much of my muddled thoughts through the years.
How beautifully written!The picture of the berries and snow is lovely!
Thank you very much. I am always drawn to contrasts and in winter there are so many to choose from, especially while hiking in the woods. I am delighted that you enjoyed my ode to the season.
You write and photograph so beautifully. Just simply wonderful. Happy Holidays~
Thank you so much Cindy. Love and support from wonderful people like you helps warm me during this season. A very Happy Holidays to you as well!
I love the cold air haha and the warm of surrounding family and friends
Winter is such a season of contrasts. Without it, though, how could we appreciate the coming spring? Thanks for sharing your love of this time of year with us.