Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Quickening

Firmly clenched within the hollow of winter’s unyielding fist, I find solace in the promise of lengthening days and sparkling ice that clings like diamonds to tired, bare branches. In the morning, when the sun explodes from innumerable glittering crystals, I know that it is worth every shivering moment. It is impossible to duplicate this beauty. Sun, ice, trees, clarity.

I owe much of my comprehension to blue jays and morning glories, as I tried so long ago to duplicate their blueness on my palette. I came close once and then I discovered that imitating nature has its own set of rules. I am grateful and accept that like all colors, blues are simply an idea. It works.

I realized this morning that I forgot to make a snow angel this winter. I write about them and talk about them, but did not bother plopping into the snow to actually make one. Early last winter, I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to make one that I actually made at least three, maybe more. I think I made a flock.

This is the first time in four years that I have been in New Hampshire for most of the winter. I am wired to prepare for it, survive it and then celebrate when it is over. I always said that there is nothing compared to ‘spring fever’ for one who endures a long New Hampshire winter (living atop a mountain).

The fear that I had of howling winds as a child has subsided, but the respect still remains. With the exception of my crunching snowshoes, the woods are silent. I stop to acknowledge stories told by tracks imprinted in the snow. The account of the Eastern cottontail rabbit being chased by a coyote has unfolded at least twice this year. You know the ending. Tracks don’t lie.

Sometimes I think that if I follow the tracks that I might catch up. My heart beats hard with a blend of anticipation and courage. What if I come face to face with a bobcat or moose? Why do I continue? I can’t go on and I can’t not go on. Each step is deliberate and I think of how I will respond if I meet one of these legendary characters whose footprints I inhabit.

I rejoice at the sound of chickadees, nuthatches and the others. Hairy woodpeckers chirp and fly hastily from one treetop to another. I squint and focus on a male as it clings and does a downward, spiral dance on the trunk of a dead ash tree.

The clothesline sags from the weight of a string of full, abandoned birdfeeders – ghosts from the not so distant past. I offer various seeds; keep them clean and do all the right things. No takers. Everyone has their theories; mine is based on GMO seeds. The birds are on their own now. I understand. I miss them.

The sun is nearing the ridge and the white birches bend slightly in the quiet wind. The snow – once edgy, white and fresh – is softening under March’s reign.

The blur of gray ice and expired snow merges with a chorus of invisible rushing water. My pinkish overcast world quivers in the midst of the quickening – the rebirth of spring, which waits patiently in the womb of Our Mother.

Photo: Courtesy of

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