Winter is a lot to undo; the earth sleeps deeply.
But the seasons begin the swing toward spring.
Now snow. Now rain. The rain beginning to win.
Beneath the snow, the living things stir.
The tapping sound of rain enters their dreams.
But again the snow falls, returning them to sleep.
Transitions happen one precious now at a time.
The seasons know what they are doing.
It seems to take forever for something to be born.
But look back on a child’s life, on a springtime,
and see how swiftly it flashed by.
Savor this day before the rain, when the snow
drapes the tree limbs with its light. Before long,
it will disappear, and the living things will hear
the rain’s tapping, and rise.
As the second day of March dawned,
it was clear that the lion had not gone.
The roar with which he ushered in the month
was still rolling through the trees. His snow
piled on the ground beneath the maples.
And they, with their accustomed grace,
bore it on their branches as if were a gift,
and a treasured one at that. Jewels perhaps.
Or so it seemed as it shimmered
in the pale sun of this pastel morning.
But then, when you stand here, breathing
it all in – the limbs, the slopes, the light, the snow –
it comes to you that it’s all grace, every bit of it,
and that the lion is roaring Yes.
In came March, like some shaggy old lion
padding through the woods on big soft paws.
It was covered in snow, and when it shook
its mane, the snow flew everywhere,
right up to tops of the trees.
On its back, it carried great leather bags,
laden with surprises for each of the days
that it would stay. And despite the snow
the great beast smelled of springtime
and bits of green poked from its load.
It roamed the woods all day, scattering
more snow with every step, and roaring
now and then just to make its presence known.
When night fell, it curled into the whiteness,
purring in the ferocious way that lions do.
I doubted that it would sleep. It seemed
determined somehow. Despite its age
and the softness of its step, it was fierce
still and bent on proclaiming that March,
unpredictable March, was here.
Here on the threshold of March
Jack paints another scene,
perhaps his last, or nearly so,
of things to come. Look for rain,
he says, and for birds and ferns.
It’s his message of hope as winter
begins to roll up her white tent,
head for the rails that will take her
out of town. Few will be sorry
to see her go despite the gifts
she’s given. It’s been a long haul.
But here is Jack, saying look for rain.
And beneath the last few inches
of snow, I think that I hear
purple crocuses stirring.
Only now, that you are about to go,
do I find myself looking at you
with as much wonder and awe
as when you first fell, spreading
your smooth blanket on the ground.
How many of your light cells have fallen
since then, blinking in and out
of existence? More than the stars
in the sky or the ocean’s sands.
You stretch our understanding
of abundance that much more.
How could we ever have believed
that the Yes knows limitation!
It wasn’t much, as sunsets go.
Yet how eagerly my eyes fled
to its bits of pink and coral,
rare colors in this season
of brown woods and blue snow.
I held them to my heart and dreamed
of summer roses, draped
in these sweet hues.
Only after I had drunk my fill
of them did I notice the tracks
in the snow, an X and an O,
made by someone at play
and left as a kiss and hug
on the snow, because
it, too, is loved
in someone’s heart.
Things can only get so intense.
You can only shiver so much,
see so much gray, plow
through so much snow.
Then the gift comes:
sunlight, the sight of birds
flying in blue sky.
Life gives us breathers,
days when we can soften
the muscles of our shoulders,
move with ease, remember
the suppleness of our strength,
and ready ourselves
to keep on.
Look how the snow blends the colors of cloud
and sky, smoothing them into a fusion all its own.
Look how it clears the stage to accentuate
the grace of the lone tree , and how the tree,
more than thrice our height, points
to the vastness of the sky.
Hear how the wind plays for this ballet,
its symphony sweeping the ground,
and rising in a crescendo to the sky.
Taste the sharpness of the cold.
Feel the magnificence of the dance.
Let if lift you high.
Someday, when we’re gathered
on some warm and welcome world
and the Earth, from which we came,
is covered in ice and snow,
and we’re remembering all we saw
that brought a thrill to our eyes,
let us remember a time
when, looking out our windows,
on a February morning, we saw
sunshine glinting off translucent ice
and thought that it was beautiful.
The morning dawned clear and for precious hours
the sun danced with clouds and sent its warmth.
Much of the snow that was heaped on the tree limbs
tumbled in soft puffs to the ground. But except
for their almost invisible marks, the woods’ snowy floor
stretched trackless, as if no one lived there at all.
How could they? In this stark and frozen
world, how can it be that anything survives?
And yet they do. Hidden somewhere
out of sight squirrels cuddle, and rabbits,
raccoons, coyotes, deer and fox find shelter
and sustenance. Even the wee mice
and chickadees manage somehow to endure.
When night fell, so did bitter cold.
But in the clear sky, a crescent moon smiled,
as if to say that all below was known,
and seen, cared for, and loved.