Snow Moon


We should have been resigned to the fact that February would bring an Arctic front and more snow. After all, this month’s full moon is called The Snow Moon. And, it was glorious–so big and so high in the sky all night long, and visible in the daytime as well. Until yesterday, there has only been crusted snow remaining under the bushes, though the grass is as hard as a rock when I walk down to the dock. There’s been little activity out on the water–a rare waterfowl or two, an occasional Eagle. When I’m out on the dock, it seems impossible our sailboat will be moored to that lonely buoy in four months. I think that the uncertainly we’ve had to live with for so long now makes even that future seem like something you can’t count on.

We didn’t get more than a few inches of snow, but the temperature is zero this morning–a heat wave compared to much of Montana, and sub-zero nights are on the way for the rest or the week. There was enough sunshine yesterday for sparkles on the snow and the surface of the lake swirled in different directions as the wind tried to make up its mind. As Don says, the big wind chime on the porch makes him shiver, and flags blowing in town revealed the northeast wind that is always so bitter. Just as I was enjoying walks on the golf course cart path, free of ice and snow, and wearing trainers instead of boots. We heard the male red-wing blackbird the other day! No one believed us. February is probably always like this, and even in the early weeks of the month, we were all saying how we needed to build more snow pack. So here we are on 2.22.22.

It’s hard to keep hunting for yet another Netflix series to carry us through. The Olympics were a distraction–if, perhaps, a guilty one, and not very good at distracting us from the world’s dangerous news. It did seem somewhat fitting that the Olympic news as the Games concluded was the poor Finnish Nordic skier whose penis froze in a race. I was sure that Sarah was sharing an Onion headline, but all the major news reported on it. There is still enough time left in a long northwest Montana winter to read a book on Russian history, which I sorely need, but cannot bring myself to go there. It feels like the usual plodding along that happens in mid-February is greatly intensified during these very troubled times.

Later today, I’ll drive by Plantland on my way into town and the sign at the curb will read, “26 days until Spring!” I have to go a tad out of my way to pass the nursery, but, it’s worth it just to refresh my memory of the violets and buttercups and birds that will slowly be on view once the Arctic front moves along its way. I added a Cornell Lab bird app to my phone a week ago, that allows me to record what I hear and make an identification of the bird. I’ve only heard one new one–just a common sparrow. But still…it was worth noticing I thought. It can get us through a hard day sometimes.

Moon – Billy Collins

The moon is full tonight 
an illustration for sheet music, 
an image in Matthew Arnold 
glimmering on the English Channel, 
or a ghost over a smoldering battlefield 

in one of the history plays. 

It’s as full as it was  
in that poem by Coleridge 
where he carries his year-old son 
into the orchard behind the cottage 
and turns the baby’s face to the sky 

to see for the first time 
the earth’s bright companion, 
something amazing to make his crying seem small. 

And if you wanted to follow this example, 
tonight would be the night 
to carry some tiny creature outside 
and introduce him to the moon. 

And if your house has no child, 
you can always gather into your arms 
the sleeping infant of yourself, 
as I have done tonight, 
and carry him outdoors, 
all limp in his tattered blanket, 

making sure to steady his lolling head 
with the palm of your hand. 

And while the wind ruffles the pear trees 
in the corner of the orchard 
and dark roses wave against a stone wall, 
you can turn him on your shoulder 
and walk in circles on the lawn 
drunk with the light. 

You can lift him up into the sky, 
your eyes nearly as wide as his, 
as the moon climbs high into the night.

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