Wednesday, January 6, 2010

the snow man

for many people,
winter is a difficult time.
cold, dark, without cheer.

i understand that.

so i have found a way,
a means by which i can live
with those very real features
of what - for canadians in the eastern woodlands -
constitutes as much as one third (or more)
of the calendar year.

you see,
for me
the arrival of snow brings with it
the rekindling of memories
of winters long past.

the softening of the landscape
softens the eyes and the heart.

wallace stevens wrote about the experiencing of winter
as a means for understanding
the apparent emptiness
of a winter landscape.

it gifts us with a rich metaphor
for "the nothing that is".


the snow man

one must have a mind of winter
to regard the frost and the boughs
of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

and have been cold a long time
to behold the junipers shagged with ice,
the spruces rough in the distant glitter

of the january sun; and not to think
of any misery in the sound of the wind,
in the sound of a few leaves,


which is the sound of the land
full of the same wind
that is blowing in the same bare place

for the listener, who listens in the snow,
and, nothing himself, beholds
nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

30 comments:

Barb said...

Hi Steven, I think I have a "mind of winter" - I like your photos of the etching of the snow and the long afternoon shadows.

Kathleen said...

Oh my goodness, that last photo just takes my breath away--in a good way. I love the introspection time of winter. love love love it. Love how the earth is storing something rich and loamy under all that whiteness.

How are you liking The Magician's Elephant? Kate DiCamillo lived in my neighborhood for a spell. I'd see her walking her pooch just a few blocks from here. She drove a cute blue and white min cooper and lived a teeny tiny adorable house.

She's an amazing writer, eh?

Jenny Stevning said...

Lovely. The long shadows of the last photo take my breath away!
Thank you!

Dan Gurney said...

amazing synchronicity. We were discussing this poem in my Society of Friends of the Buddha meeting tonight, and several members asked me to post it on my blog...and then I find you've posted it, too. And Bonnie posted it a day or two ago...

Synchronicity is real, steven.

staceyjwarner said...

beautiful...i love the snow and one of my fondest memories of my trip was driving through a snow storm. it was powerful and mesmerizing.

much love

ellen abbott said...

Really great photos steven, especially the last. Almost makes me like winter...almost.

acornmoon said...

I cannot begin to imagine minus twenty degrees! We are so hopeless at coping with the snow here in Britain, half an inch can close an airport!

steven said...

hi barb, winter roars and rages sometimes and then too it is subtle and needs to be viewed and understood so differently from the summer. i look for the little beauties! i'm glad you enjoyed these! steven

steven said...

hi kathleen - i am loving the magician's elephant. i have read most of kate's books and have found them all equally incredible!! i'm glad you enjoyed today's post - it's a hard time of year and especially hard on those who don't like the dark and the cold. but one way 'round that is to try and find its beauty. have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hello jenny - the shadows are from around four thirty in the afternoon and are in one of my favourite winter places in a woods not far from here. have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hello dan - yes i visited your blog and had a chuckle!!!! i'll have to nip over to bonnie's and thank her for the silent inspiration!!! steven

steven said...

hello stacey j. yes - i love snowstorms even though they represent work - digging - and challenge - getting through them to and from work and wherever else you need to go!!!! still very lovely. have a sweet day! steven

steven said...

now ellen - you don't have to like it but you can learn to live with it - or not!!!!! i have no choice but to find a way to accept it and then even to celebrate it a little bit! have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

hello acornmoon! i read the bbc news online every day and it surprises me that after all these years, britain is still challenged when it comes to winter. almost obstinately challenged. i know with your artist's eyes you'll be taking it all in as fuel for a painting!!!! have a peaceful creative day. steven

Elisabeth said...

Steven, I live a long way away from the ice and cold of winter on the other side of the world in Australia. I have never experienced the long quiet seclusion of winter as you describe it here, but I can imagine it and more so as you bring it to life here, with your words and images. Thank you.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Hi Steven...isn't this an interesting example of synchronicity - posting this poem a few hours apart.

I love how this poem reminds us to be with what is....to have a mind of winter that does not add thoughts of misery to the sound of the wind...that is fully in the moment and not projecting into it our previous learnings or experiences. How else can we ever learn that nothing holds within it everything.

Love that last photograph Steven!

willow said...

I bought myself a book of Steven's poetry last year. He has some marvelous wintry pieces. Lovely pics, Steven. You know I am in heaven this time of year!

Golden West said...

It may be all snow now, but ahhh, the green that will follow will be a spring tonic!

NanU said...

A snowy winterscape is a lot like being in the desert, with the quiet and the monochrome and the spots of color and the desertedness of it. Places for reflection, and for caution, and for knowing where shelter is.

Peace,
N

Linda Sue said...

Long shadows on snow, absolutley perfect! Quiet, undesturbed, love that photo!

steven said...

hello elisabeth and welcome!! i have a few very special visitors who drop in here from australia and they are especially welcome because their own blogs are filled with warmth and flowers and tons of sunshine at a time when that is a memory and a wish for me!!! i just got in the door from walking home - eight km. - it takes about an hour and a quarter. the windchill is minus tweleve but i am sweating. it's all about being dressed carefully. i also took some really sweet pics on the walk home so it was gprgeous out as well!!! see you again soon. steven

steven said...

bonnie thankyou so much for sharing your understanding of this wonderful poem!!! i really believe that there is beauty in the winter even though it is dark and cold and wintry. i see it every day. it's in smaller and more subtle measure than summer but it is waiting to be discovered. dan also posted this poem today- it is one of those magic synchronous moments in the land of the blog!!! have a peaceful evening. steven

steven said...

willow - you are heaven sent and likely spend time hovering back and forth!!!!! now my adoring public will liekly want to know how to buy such a book so please be prepared to tell how you managed this feat!!!! steven

Reya Mellicker said...

What beautiful images! And words, and intentions, of course.

When I moved to Lake Tahoe, a friend said, "You have to figure out a way to enjoy the snow." It snows about 18 feet per year!!

She was right - and so are you. Right and proper and good, Steve!

steven said...

golden west - i love the spring for the pure surprise of its arrival. again, in tiny moments of a bud here, a shoot there. a sudden melting. a few more months. have a lovely evening. steven

steven said...

nanu - the winter landscape in the eastern woodlands does have some of the features of a desert but a relatively lush one. there's monochrome and grey scale and then sudden shocks of colour - on a very small scale like dogwood twigs in a frozen pool, or on a much larger scale, like a sunset that washes its way across the entire western sky! have a lovely evening. steven

steven said...

linda sue it's a favourite of mine also for the very same reasons. simple, peaceful, soft lines. have a nice evening. steven

steven said...

yes reya - it's here. this is my life. what am i going to do with it. moan, complain. will that change anything for the better. i found out that no one and especially nature really cares!! so i found ways to love the winter. i am not an outdoor sportsman in the winter - no cross country or downhill skiing, no snowmobiling or whatever else. nope, i like to walk in it and see it up close and in tight. that way i see the very little moments that make it lovely and loveable. have a great dc evening reya and good times with the sufi acupuncturist!!!! steven

BT said...

That last photo is beautiful, truly so. I can see why it's a favourite spot for you. That's a long walk home. When I do to the lake I wear a ski-ing hat and warm coat but me feet and hands always defeat any sort of gloves/boots! I still stay and take photos though as I know, especially here, these conditions may not come again for a long time.

steven said...

hello bt! dressing warmly - not all bundled up like a mum might think but with several thin layers and the outer one being windproof is all that you need. the walk takes about an hour and a quarter and gives me lots of time to unload the day before i wak int he door and become dad! steven