Let it snow! (Baby, it’s cold outside…)

Finally, the day after Christmas, we’re having our first real honest-to-goodness snow storm! There’s nowhere we have to be, plenty of milk, cream, cocoa, tea, and coffee (covering the holy trinity of hot beverages) on hand, and thus we can hunker down and enjoy the view.

With me and the boys down with colds, visiting my mum and her chemo-depressed immune system for Christmas was out of the question. So we had a quieter sort of holiday. Which is the sort of holiday our economic reality is happiest with anyway. Though not the kind of quiet that means silent — my stepsons brought fireworks. Rather a lot, actually. Because nothing says Christmas like explosives.

I’ve packed a bunch of reading into this mini-break — I tend not to use the computer much on weekends if I (and my Duotrope addiction) can help it — while the boys have been deeply attentive to creating art and play-doh wall stucco. Where it used to be I couldn’t read more than one book at a time, I seem to have a compulsion these days to hoard a disparate pile of library books along with my usual supply of literary journals:

I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (an interesting follow-up to my reading of The Emperor of All Maladies — the writing’s less elegant, the science less difficult, but the story of the Lacks is utterly heart-rending), the new issue of Poetry Northwest, an urban fantasy novel whose title I won’t mention because I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it but which held my attention, and I’m 440 pages into The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which I really love and I’m trying not to rush through. Without re-reading something from my shelves (which is not out of the question by any means) I’m currently without a volume of prose on poetry, having returned Mentor & Muse to the library — any suggestions, anything new out there I may not have heard about or read already?

Between reading jags I’ve baked blueberry muffins, picked up various wood blocks and legos, and joined my sons with their crayons. Vincent was drawing an elaborate series of small rectangles, something that resembled a spread-out brick wall, and then below them at the bottom of the page, he drew a single small rectangle off by itself, and announced, “This is the lonely one.”

“And why is he lonely?” I asked.

“Because his parents are gone,” Vincent replied mournfully.

“Where are his parents?”

“I think they went to the bank.” He looked up. “And then they went to a poetry reading.”

I told Lance how delighted I am that our not-yet 5 yr old’s world includes the idea of a poetry reading.

He raised an eyebrow. “Oh? And how about the fact that he equates poetry readings with loneliness and abandonment?”

Criminy.

Snow. Falling. Down.

That’s how Vincent speaks, one word, full stop, then the next. And no more than three words in a row. But we understand each other, and that’s a constant revelation: we look at each other in utter astonishment several times every day.

So it’s snowing again, very hard, much much snow. It’s been snowing since early December. You’d think we lived on a Great Lake the amount it’s snowed this winter. I’m almost beyond the whining to simply being stunned — how much can it snow in one winter anyway?

Chase Twichell, soon-to-be-former publisher of Ausable Press, is a phenomenal poet in her own right, and her collection, The Snow Watcher, has my snow poem of choice:

Snow

Every day it snows an inch or two,
muting the music in the pines.
Old music.

Snow holds back the dawn–
an extra minute of lying here
while the self sleeps on.

Walking home after midnight,
two miles to go. The snow
is telling a story two miles long.

Dead trucks for sale in the yards.
New trucks plough the roads
of the dying towns.

If ever I flee to wilderness to die,
it will be to snow. Thus this snow
at bed time comforts me.

Baron Wormser on Snow.

If there is such a thing as a mutable eternity, it is snow falling in the woods.  I am thinking of a windless, steady plummeting.  Nothing is moving except for snowflakes.  You can hear the snow faintly ticking on the pine needle branches.  You can hear it descending–a soft sift of air….Every surface receives the snow in its way.  A large, fallen curled maple leaf collects the snow in its center.  A boulder’s stored heat resists the snow at first, then its surface turns wet as if it were raining, and then, with un-boulderlike delicacy, a thin frizz accumulates.  On top of the garden gate a fragile white skein begins to perch.  Little, almost derby-like hats grow on the garden fence posts.  The mown grass around the house fills in gradually.  The stiff, frozen blades seem like little heights.  Then the snow, as it mounts, receives itself.  Another landscape is created, and for months we live in that landscape.

We don’t live in the woods, but close enough.  It’s the silence, how the snow muffles everything, except for itself–soft sift of air— 

And then, once the snow has stopped & the cleanup completed, the cold clobbers you day after day, and that landscape is like a taunt, until it seems as though you’ll never be warm again. 

 It’s only January 6, and yet we’ve already had more snow than we had all last winter.  Can you tell I’m ready for spring?