The spruce was meant to wear winter’s snow
as surely as the rose was meant to wear the summer’s dew.
Look how its branches raise up to accept the fall,
how its needles so gently hold the fragile powder.
And look how its form is graced by the gift
that it so humbly receives.
It’s almost like watching the rise and response
of a prayer of praise, a breath of love
between the Yes and its creation.
So there I was, lost in a trance of beauty,
the scene looking like a poster for winter,
draped in sun-dazzled, shimmering snow,
near tears, thinking how lucky I was
just to be here, seeing this,
when all of a sudden, down the hill
and around the trail’s’ curve
comes this golden retriever,
bounding at me full speed.
“Max! Max!” his owner called, afraid
that he would scare me.
But how could I be frightened
by such exuberant joy?
“It’s okay!” I called back, kneeling
to greet the dog, his golden fur
glistening with snow as he bounded
in circles around me, panting, his face
telling me that I had no idea
what lucky was. To know,
you’d have to be a big dog,
released from the house at last
to play in the woods and snow,
on a shining mid-winter day.
The only tale the woods can tell is the moment’s truth.
There’s no pretense here. No fabrication.
No memory or longing.
Just the sheer Isness of forest and snow:
Sunlight on tree bark, the punctuation of animal tracks
and long shadows, the call of a crow accentuating
And all of it breathing the shimmering Yes.
Today, when the snow said I couldn’t get from here
to there, that it was best to stay indoors,
I looked through the cat’s eyes at a paperweight
with worlds inside, at the landscape on a leaf,
at a wisp of steam rising in bliss from a teacup.
There’s more than one way to see the world.
When I was a kid, I used to hang my head over the edge
of the couch to look at the room upside down.
Didn’t you? Or go spinning in the grass like a Dervish
to dance the world into ecstasy?
To burn real logs, cut from real trees
that lived and died right over the hill,
and sawed to length by a real man
seems such a privilege.
Perhaps it has always been so.
But in another generation, no one
will know. Not here, in our managed
and engineered world.
So I bask in the heat of this fire,
the cat beside me, savoring
its soft warmth, and vowing
to carry this moment, with praise,
It never gets old, this wonderland of snow.
Always, it astonishes, then disappears before
you can even begin to take it for granted.
I love that about it–the way it convinces you
that magic is real. Even though it plays
its now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t game,
you can’t doubt its presence or its beauty
as it lies there, piled on the branches,
or shimmers in gossamer curtains that fall
in the merest breath of a breeze.
How can there be enough tiny flakes
to cover all this ground? Each twig?
Each trunk and blade and stem?
And each one of them a diamond
full of starlight, enough to hold
all the wishes in the world
and then some.
Had you not fluttered so quickly to that branch,
I may not have seen you at all, dressed as you are
in such scene-matching feathers, your wings
even barred with patches of snow, your back
the same soft brown as the branches.
And what I would have missed! You!
puffed up against the cold, and chirping
as if you were born for this day!
For one more day, the snow held, more falling
during the night and into the morning
until every branch and twig was clothed
in its powdery light.
Its beauty was almost too much to bear,
and you could walk in it only slowly,
mindful and silent lest you disturb
even while your spirit
was leaping and shouting with joy.