Perseverance

02.20.21

‘”Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.’ – Chapter V: Riddles In The Dark. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

This week has plodded along, as slow-moving as trudging through deep snow. Everyday, I’ve shoveled our stone steps as snow bands leave behind an inch or a foot. Then the sun comes out for awhile, then the snow again. Our road has been plowed twice, and the UPS driver sends me texts that he’s can’t navigate its icy descent, so he’s left the latest book I’ve ordered in a neighbor’s carport up at the highway. I think I only took the car out one time to pick-up an order of groceries in town. I’ve grown weary of spending time online in search of a left-over Covid vaccine for Don; he’ll just have to wait his turn in a long cue for the next tier to become available. Our septic pump alarm went off early in the week, sending fears of a back-up like we had last Fall. It’s been easier to revert to frontier cabin living this time around, as I watch what the poor people in Texas have been living through. There’s been a Covid death in the family of one of my friends this week, and the birth of a baby girl in another friend’s family. Life moves on.

“I’m safe on Mars. Perseverance will get you anywhere.” #CountdownToMars.

Whilst we’ve had our dramas and traumas down here on Earth, a few days ago, the NASA rover, Perseverance, traveled 293 million miles over 203 days to land exactly where she was supposed to, and then sent out a tweet with photos of her “forever home”. She’s brought along a helicopter, Ingenuity, in the search for rocks to help us understand the origins of our beautiful blue and troubled planet. In Native News Online, I read an interview with the mechanical engineer, Aaron Yazzie, a Native American (Navajo, Dine’ tribe), who is a member on the NASA team, and thought how in the current times we live in, his perspective is vital.

“…For Yazzie, that has meant pursuing origin stories ingrained in him from childhood. Navajo children are told stories of how land forms and how constellations in the sky came to be in order to better understand their identity and their connection to the land, he said.

In another week or so, we will leave February behind, as we trot forward into the month of March–with our little swords.

‘You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!’ – Gandalf, Chapter XIX: The Last Stage

Brrrr…

02.14.21

Cold Morning, by Eamon Brennan

Through an accidental crack in the curtain 
I can see the eight o’clock light change from 
charcoal to a faint gassy blue, inventing things 

in the morning that has a thick skin of ice on it 
as the water tank has, so nothing flows, all is bone, 
telling its tale of how hard the night had to be 

for any heart caught out in it, just flesh and blood 
no match for the mindless chill that’s settled in, 
a great stone bird, its wings stretched stiff 

from the tip of Letter Hill to the cobbled bay, its gaze 
glacial, its hook-and-scrabble claws fast clamped 
on every window, its petrifying breath a cage

In which all the warmth we were is shivering. 

It’s been brutal this past week. Lake fog shrouds the house all morning long. Chunks of ice clack against each other at water’s edge, and an occasional ice floe drifts by from the river channel, as hungry Bald Eagles fly in and out of the fog. As with most things in life, you have to keep telling yourself, “At least it’s not as bad as, say, White Sulpher Springs, MT at -44 degrees, or -33 degrees in Great Falls, or our poor Billings family. Our sanity has been salvaged on most of these extreme days by the blazing sunshine late in the afternoon, and by gorgeous sharp and crisp sunsets as the mercury plummets in the descending night. Any evening now, the new fingernail moon will greet us in the west, just as the sun leaves the sky.

On one cold and still afternoon, I walked out to the river which was mostly covered in ice, and watched swans and a crowd of geese loudly chatter as they bobbed together in blue slivers of open water. I imagined them sharing gossip about how March is just around the corner, and, don’t you feel the new warmth of the sun. In our house, there is a dramatic change in the light, from Winter’s darkest of days. By my final cup of coffee, the garage up the hill is outlined in early morning blue as I look out the pantry window. And, late afternoon sunshine beams into the living room, often with a blinding glare, that makes me move from chair to chair as I read the big fat book I bought to keep me going. Yesterday, I looked back again in my iPhotos library, to reassure myself that in every first weeks of March, there’s a shot of me sitting in bright sunshine on the porch off our bedroom, in a parka, but with sunglasses and sun hat, cold frosty beer in my hand at Happy Hour.

On Valentine’s Day morning, our forecasted high temperature is 14 degrees. A coincidence, perhaps, but I’m reading it as sign that better days–of all kinds– are not far off the horizon.

i

One year ago…

02.07.21

“The day and time itself: late afternoon in early February, was there a moment of the year better suited for despair?” 
― Alice McDermott

It was in February, one year ago, when we went to Finland to visit Joy and her family. We took an Icelandic flight out of Seattle. We had read what was happening in Wuhan, but reassured ourselves that we weren’t going to Asia. But, that morning, before we boarded the plane, we saw in the news that Seattle had just recorded its first death of someone with Covid-19. When we changed planes in Reykjavik, many fellow travelers were wearing masks. And, because thousands of Chinese tourists could not leave their country, for a popular February holiday at the North Pole, we were able to book a last-minute trip to Rovaniemi, and experienced a magical reindeer sleigh ride under the stars and the Northern Lights. By the end of the month when we flew back to Seattle, terror was everywhere, around the globe.

It’s been a long time now since we were all frantically searching for toilet paper and Lysol wipes. Who could have comprehended that a year later, there would be over 450,000 Americans dead from Covid; who would have believed that we would now be waiting in lines for a vaccine, developed in record time. Now, all the world is in a great hurry to get scarce and precious vaccines into arms, and outpace new and dangerous variants of the virus. To make our way out of this dreadful past year.

I was so hopeful a week ago, on the first day of February. It was a beautiful sunny warmish day with not a breath of cold wind. We put the Christmas tree out on the porch, and I celebrated the Celtic tradition of Imholc, or St. Brigit’s, with its rituals to welcome the new season on its way. Mainly, you’re supposed to dust out the cobwebs to clear space, so I dusted my living room. And, you’re supposed to embrace the warming air, so I sat on a rock by the water, delighted in the sunshine, and dreamed of spring and summer days ahead, in the company of friends and family, safe together. I hope.

Yesterday morning, it started snowing, and the cold we’ve missed out on all winter, is finally on its way. The NOAA meteorologist started the forecast discussion with, “Sound the trumpets–arctic cold and snow on the way!”, and concluded with, “The cold will be brutal, especially considering the very mild winter the region has seen thus far this year.” Why couldn’t this storm have been last month, closer to the Winter Solstice. I wanted a blizzard last month, but not now, when I am so longing for the lightness of spring. In the middle of the night, I heard the creaking and popping sounds of our house, as the wood contracted in rapidly falling temperatures. Did I moan, or was that the sound of the trees, or the roar of waves on the lake. I am feeling stuck in this ‘Dark Winter’ we knew was coming, and I’m exhausted by stories of vaccine shortages, the science articles about virus mutations, the questions about efficacy and silent transmission. I am anxious to leave the fever in our cabins and look for the promises kept to us, each and every spring.

Judging by the February poetry I read yesterday, next to a warm and cozy fire in my living room, grumpiness is often this month’s trademark, even without the presence of Covid-19. Yet, I do have to admit that the big snowflakes, swirling this way and that out my kitchen window this morning, look quite pretty, so soft and delicate, and it feels like a good day to be tucked into one’s cabin.

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…

January drags on…

01.29.21

I looked back through my blogposts, and it appears I am often grumpy at the end of January. Even my horoscope today confirms these are difficult days for a Taurus:

TAURUS HOROSCOPE JANUARY 29, 2021. It could seem as if you are riding a roller-coaster of emotions that may make you feel moody today. Maybe because you are feeling both good and bad emotions, you might find it more difficult to cope with the fluctuations. Making yourself aware of the fact that your emotions are constantly changing could help you detach from your feelings and make it easier to see that your feelings do not have to define your mood.

This month is taking forever. From the fear and despair of January 6th, to the relief and joy on January 20th, to the present reality of a viciously divided Congress, to the disastrous Covid-19 vaccination rollout, is it any wonder my feelings are a roller-coaster. Dangerous Covid-19 variants are popping up everywhere, and the disparity of worldwide distribution of limited vaccines is heart-breaking. “Vaccine scavengers” are invited to line up for any precious unused doses, so they don’t go to waste.

Well, February is just around the corner, and that’s something to look forward to. My mother was born in February, and Valerie came into the world on Valentine’s Day, so it is a month of love. My moods are often attached to ‘what were the skies like this morning’, and there’s a little excitement on that front. Forecasters are hinting that we may have a repeat of late February two years ago, when an Arctic blast appeared out of nowhere, bringing snow and temperatures so cold that Flathead Lake froze over for the first time in twenty years. I was alone here, with Don off skiing in Norway, and I will never forget standing on the porch at dusk, and how it took my breath away to watch and listen as the ice clacked together in front of my eyes. But, with January coming to a close, I would be remiss not to give credit for the Wolf Moon, which shines all night long high in the sky, reflected by snow, then spilling onto my pillow. Likewise, I would not want to miss pointing out how soft and ethereal is the weakened sun, as it glows on snow, during my morning walks.

Quarantine, 1918
by Faith Shearin

There were towns
that knew about the flu before
it arrived; they had time to imagine the germs
on a stranger’s skirts, to see how death
could be sealed in an envelope,
how a fever could bloom in the evening,
and take a life overnight.
A few villages, deep in the mountains,
posted guards on their roads,
and no one was allowed to come or go,
not even a grandmother carrying a cake;
no mail was accepted and all the words
and packages families sent
to one another went unopened,
unanswered. Trains were told
not to stop, so they glowed for a moment
before swaying
towards some other place. The food
at the corner store never came
from out of town and no one went
to see a distant auntie
or state fair. For awhile, the outside world
existed in imagination, in memory,
in books or suitcases, deep in closets.
There was nothing but the town itself,
hiding from what was possible,
and the children cutting dolls
from paper, their scissors sharp.

‘Wintering’

01.24.21

This was our sky on the eve of the Inauguration. I read it as an omen for better weather to come–“red skies at night, sailors’ delight’. We were in front of the TV at 6 am the next morning, wanting to make sure Trump’s plane actually went up into the sky and flew away, out of our sight. The morning dawn looked so beautiful on the White House. We watched all day long, holding our breath for the safety of the new President and Vice President. We loved seeing their children, hearing the glorious music, and Amanda Gorman’s electrifying poem. By the time Washington’s night sky was ablaze in fireworks, we’d finished off an entire box of Kleenex, and collapsed into bed, emotionally spent, the weight of it all suddenly off our shoulders.

The next early morning, looking at me over our computers, Don said, “Even the coffee doesn’t taste so good this morning.” The air was out of our balloons, the brief honeymoon was over, and we were back into the reality of the White House and Capitol strewn with dirty laundry, new variants of the virus springing up across the globe, and a Wild West free-for-all as Americans rush to get themselves on to waiting lists for limited vaccines. And, we are still in the month of January–deep into Wintertime Blues. While there is no snow, the temperatures have finally returned to their normal lows in the teens and highs in the twenties, reminding us this is the time of Winter.

I listened to a wonderful OnBeing podcast the other morning with Katherine May, author of the book Wintering…the power of rest and retreat in difficult times. I love how she says, “Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.”

Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Wintering is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.

“It’s a time for reflection and recuperation, for slow replenishment, for putting your house in order. Doing these deeply unfashionable things — slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting — is a radical act now, but it’s essential. ”

It was just what I needed to hear at the end of this January, even as I delight in the extra light at the end of each day now, accumulating at a rate of two to four minutes. Katherine May calls upon us to put our house in order, and to just be Present, in the seasonality of what is this time. And Billy Collins tells us just how hard that is to do.

The Present

By Billy Collins

Much has been said about being in the present.
It’s the place to be, according to the gurus,
like the latest club on the downtown scene,
but no one, it seems, is able to give you directions.

It doesn’t seem desirable or even possible
to wake up every morning and begin
leaping from one second into the next
until you fall exhausted back into bed.

Plus, there’d be no past
with so many scenes to savor and regret,
and no future, the place you will die
but not before flying around with a jet-pack.

The trouble with the present is
that it’s always in a state of vanishing.
Take the second it takes to end
this sentence with a period––already gone.

What about the moment that exists
between banging your thumb
with a hammer and realizing
you are in a whole lot of pain?

What about the one that occurs
after you hear the punch line
but before you get the joke?
Is that where the wise men want us to live

in that intervening tick, the tiny slot
that occurs after you have spend hours
searching downtown for that new club
and just before you give up and head back home?

Losing our direction

01.10.21

I don’t know what happened to this hawk, a Red-Tailed, I think. Perhaps, in his dive down for a mouse or vole, he just lost his direction and impaled himself on the barbed wire fence. I shuddered when I walked by him on the path out to the lake, lost, myself, in fear and anger and sadness, during a week in which we witnessed the terrifying riot on the Capitol, and ever-escalation of people dead from Covid. As I’ve done for months now, I am always somewhat amazed we’ve made it to another week-end–that time has actually been moving forward as we continue to be trapped in place. I went to write down an appointment for February, in the calendar we keep in the kitchen, and realized I never bought a new one for 2021. I feel frozen in some sort of time warp, in which I cannot make out a future.

Friday, was the birthday of our youngest grandson, Eamon. He turned ten, yet It seems but a few years ago that we were in Berkeley, and I waited outside on the front porch with Norah and Cormac–who were bursting in excitement– for Mom and new brother to arrive home. In our FaceTime conversation with him, he told us all about the short-rib dinner his Dad was preparing, and how his sister was making his favorite chocolate cake with white icing. I said that I just couldn’t believe he was now in the double digits, and he said his sister told him that she wanted to freeze him in time, just as he is, so that he could stay like he is, forever. We chatted about how other family members were doing during this time of Covid, and he said that his grandmother in Canada was “terribly lonely”. I had to choke back my tears, remembering Billy Collins’ poem, On Turning Ten. I’ve posted this poem several times here through the years–now, this is my last grandchild, turning ten.

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light–
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince
.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

Perhaps I need a good snowstorm. Winter has still not arrived in these parts. I’ve loved the afternoon sunshine, once the fog clears, and the dry roads and trails for my walks. But, like everything else, the Weather seems to have lost its direction. Where is that frigid arctic front which creates magical ice crystals in the air, and the complete stillness of a world blanketed in soft snow– that feeling of being tucked down under a big fluffy down comforter–safe, inside a silent snow globe. Maybe it could bring a bit of solace right now.

Snow Fall
by May Sarton

With no wind blowing
It sifts gently down,
Enclosing my world in
A cool white down,
A tenderness of snowing.

It falls and falls like sleep
Till wakeful eyes can close
On all the waste and loss
As peace comes in and flows,
Snow-dreaming what I keep
.

Silence assumes the air
And the five senses all
Are wafted on the fall
To somewhere magical
Beyond hope and despair.

There is nothing to do
But drift now, more or less
On some great lovingness,
On something that does bless,
The silent, tender snow.

A New Year

01.01.21

By Dana Gioia

Let other mornings honor the miraculous.
Eternity has festivals enough.
This is the feast of our mortality,
The most mundane and human holiday.

On other days we misinterpret time,
Pretending that we live the present moment.
But can this blur, this smudgy in-between,
This tiny fissure where the future drips

Into the past, this flyspeck we call now
Be our true habitat? The present is
The leaky palm of water that we skim
From the swift, silent river slipping by.

The new year always brings us what we want
Simply by bringing us along—to see
A calendar with every day uncrossed,
A field of snow without a single footprint.

I think it’s a good sign of my mental health that I woke up looking forward to writing January 1, 2021 for the very first time. After these months of solitary holidays, hunkered down alone in our silent cloister at water’s edge, good friends enticed us to join them on the western edge of the lake at dark, for a picnic in the snow around a campfire, to celebrate New Year’s Eve. In my favorite winter hour, l’here bleure, they lit the candles and lanterns, the wind was calm, geese flew by overhead, and we watched the lights on shore begin to come on and twinkle. We drank champagne and ate roasted hot dogs and beans around the crackling fire. And we laughed and laughed, telling epic stories about winters forty years ago. It was grand, and I think last night was the best sleep I’ve had in many months. No bad dreams–courtesy of the champagne, perhaps–but here we are, the start of a new year. There is hope in new beginnings.

“The new year always bring us what we want/Simply by bringing us along…”

Year’s End

12.28.20

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is always an odd time–like you’ve just stalled out, hit the pause button. Back in the days when I was working, not much got done at the office, if anything, and it’s not time to take down the tree, and you’re getting tired of Christmas cookies, and you just feel like a layabout. At least that’s how it’s always been for me. I’m overwhelmed by the lists of the best books and movies and music of 2020. And, the photos of all the famous people who died this year just add to the over-arching sadness that 2020 has been. Field hospitals are popping up around the country again, and Trump still holds the power to completely blow us up.

And yet, it was a soft and gentle Christmas at our house. We had the loveliest morning walk on Christmas Eve along the river trail, in brilliant sunshine. Fellow walkers often just stopped and faced the sun, soaking up that heavenly light. Rita drove down with Christmas gifts, and she and her visiting son and girlfriend, stood on our dock at sunset and we all watched the rising moon in the clear eastern sky. It was maybe a 10 minute visit, in the cold, far apart, but I had not seen my friend since October, and it felt like a wonderful gift to me. Don had spent the day making his famous green chili, and over the week-end, we re-created some of Cafe Pasqual’s fabulous recipes and reminisced about all the times we’ve visited Santa Fe in the past 35 years together. We watched Christmas Vacation again, and there was a covering of snow when we awakened In the morning. Our German friends facetimed with us, looking merry and bright, as they showed off the duck confit they were preparing for dinner. After huevos rancheros, we went up to the Blacktail Nordic Trails, and I snowshoed while Don skied, and we looked out at the snow-covered Swan Range and Flathead Lake covered in wisps of fog, and stayed until the yellow glow of sunset began. Then, back home, in time for a family zoom meeting–the highlight of our celebration, to see all their faces, and hear their voices.

We were so tired at the end of it all. It takes a lot of energy to make this all work out–to just make the best of it. Now, the moon is nearly full, and it shines high in the sky all night long, illuminated by the snow-covered ground. I’ve been leaving my shutters open at bedtime so that when I am awake during the bewitching hours, I can look out at its glow, and find rest and comfort underneath the enormous sheltering roof over my head, and a life rich in family and friends and health and safety.

Years End, by Richard Wilbur

Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.

I’ve known the wind by water banks to shake
The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell
And held in ice as dancers in a spell
Fluttered all winter long into a lake;
Graved on the dark in gestures of descent,
They seemed their own most perfect monument.

There was perfection in the death of ferns
Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone
A million years. Great mammoths overthrown
Composedly have made their long sojourns,
Like palaces of patience, in the gray
And changeless lands of ice. And at Pompeii

The little dog lay curled and did not rise
But slept the deeper as the ashes rose
And found the people incomplete, and froze
The random hands, the loose unready eyes
Of men expecting yet another sun
To do the shapely thing they had not done.

These sudden ends of time must give us pause.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.

Coming to the Winter Solstice

12.20.20

“Hope is a renewable option: if you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.” Barbara Kingsolver

Tomorrow is the Solstice and the first official day of Winter. In this time of Covid, it’s being referred to as The Dark Winter. Of course, it’s always a dark winter here in the north country, especially in the mornings, and since we are up so early, three hours have gone by before I see light out in the sky. On my best mornings, I cruise through the headlines online, bookmark things I want to delve into later, write a little, do some meditation and yoga, and stretch my sore hip muscles in preparation for a nice walk once it’s light enough. On those mornings, hope can feel like a renewable option. Mind you–those are my best mornings.

The snow on the ground is now gone, and it’s likely to be raining when we do our annual sunset walk on the north shore of the lake tomorrow. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a sunset on the Winter Solstice, but my photos are a record that there was some beautiful light last year. It’s always cold, and when the wind lashes us with freezing air off the water, it has that wild feeling of being on the Oregon coast in winter, when you can barely see the surf through the fog and rain, and the thundering sound makes you feel like your heart will burst out of your chest. I always have a pot of soup or chili on the stove to return home to, and we close down the night with hot Irish whiskey in front of the Christmas tree. I leave a candle burning on the dining room table to light this longest of nights.

And then, we get to wake up to a new day, and although it’s invisible, the light is truly returning. We can absolutely count on it. The older I get– and in these heartbreaking times–there is something so comforting, so necessary, in acknowledging that we are mere specks, on this tiny blue dot called Earth, floating around in celestial skies. Out of that vastness, I often find hope and solace, and a bit more perseverance. On my best days.


A Morning Offering, by John O’Donohue

I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.

All that is eternal in me
Welcomes the wonder of this day
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.

I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Waves of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.

Can’t find the forest for the trees

12.13.20

For much of this past week, the weariness of it all has been a heavy load. Several nights, I awakened to Don’s hand on my forehead, and knew I had been yelling in my sleep again–my subconscious trying to sort out what I couldn’t do in the daylight. The stagnant air inversion matched my mood perfectly. In the meager number of hours of daylight this time of year, all the lamps had to be kept on inside the house. Then, along came the morning of this photograph. The fog was gone, the air was still, the temperature pleasant, and off I went to find the sunrise. Watching it come up, and shine golden through the trees, my own fog lifted and I felt the lightness of such a beautiful morning. I remembered the Winter Solstice is a little more than a week away, and nothing can stop the return of light to each day. And, with the vaccine approved, I am allowing myself to imagine being with my loved ones again. It will take some time, just as winter takes its own time, but warm, sunny days will surely come again.

It was a beautiful winter’s morning yesterday, with an inch of snow covering the ground and the sky was painted that unique winter grey-blue. It was soft and quiet on my morning walk, and I swear I heard winter birds that I’ve not noticed before now. I walked out to the head of the lake and couldn’t believe how golden the willow branches have become. I saw a small gathering of white swans, tucking their long necks in sleep, on still water at the edge of the ice. By the fireside, late in the afternoon, I watched L’heure bleue through the glass French doors. In spite of everything, it was another lovely day to behold. As John likes to say, “Nature always comes through.”

White-Eyes, by Mary Oliver

In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
             where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
    shoves and pushes
         among the branches.
             Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
    but he’s restless—
         he has an idea,
             and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
    as long as he stays awake.
         But his big, round music, after all,
             is too breathy to last.

So, it’s over.
    In the pine-crown
         he makes his nest,
             he’s done all he can.

I don’t know the name of this bird,
    I only imagine his glittering beak
         tucked in a white wing
             while the clouds—

which he has summoned
    from the north—
         which he has taught
             to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
    into the world below
         like stars, or the feathers
             of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
    that is asleep now, and silent—
         that has turned itself
             into snow.

with its white eyes 
    shoves and pushes 
         among the branches. 
             Like any of us