I walked the trail around the wetlands
hoping, on this spring-like day, to see
if migrating ducks had come, or perhaps
an early songbird or two. Even the sound
of a peeper would have pleased me.
But the pond held no feathered swimmers
and not even the call of crows sketched
the warm air. It is, I reminded myself,
still February, and was content to find
not ice, but puddles, dotting my path.
Then, as I made the round through
the woods, a patch of black and white
caught my eye and two golden eyes
stared back at me. A cat! Here,
in the wildness! I stopped and stooped
and spoke to her. She was, she said,
quite fine and not frightened or lost
at all. “People live,” I told her, pointing,
“up there on the hill, about a third
of a mile away, if you need them.”
She nodded, ever so slightly, then
returned to relishing her fine perch
and the gift of warm air. And I
walked on, golden eyes following me
until I disappeared.
It is enough just to be,
to be awareness, noticing,
to feel the temperature and flow
of the air, to note the rustling of the leaves
and the colors of the sky, to feel your body
balancing, to hear the sounds, to note
the scents, to be still and in motion
all at once, riding the endless song.
The cold sucks all but the subtlest colors
from the land, and snow falls again,
almost invisibly. I walk the creek anyway.
Neutrality like this is rare and I gather it in.
Who knows? This could be the last of it,
of winter. I pretend that I have just come
from a summerworld, that I am stunned
by this silvery scene. Who would believe
how it shines! Who would believe
how it sings!
Such a ripping of the air!
Such a cacophony of sound!
All at once, from nowhere,
the flock of geese splashes down.
The waters leap up to meet
webbed feet. Wings flap
and fold. And before you can
even catch your startled breath,
they’re settled, and silent,
and floating as if they’d been floating
for hours, as if their grand entrance
hadn’t awakened the entire woods.
On this day, when the sky powders down love
in its most tender colors, let us sit on the tree’s
highest branches and bask in its song. Let us hear
every note waft down and surround every twig,
every limb, every eye and claw and feather.
Let us watch as every being below feels
its soft caress. And when our hearts are brimming
with its splendid, endless joy, let us fly forth,
echoing its song.
Silently, in the night, snow fell.
Again, a sparkling of snow glittered
the hillside with slices of light,
shimmering in the morning,
singing winter’s promise to remain
at least for one more day.
And I walked in the woods, sharing
the bright laughter of it with
the waking trees, who knew,
as well as I, that this surprise was
a Valentine from the gods.
As much as I admire the kind
of curiosity that wonders why
the bark of the pine differs so
from that of the birch, and what
it can tell us about its history
and evolution, and those minds,
too, that want to know what names
have been given to each species
and to the kingdoms to which
they belongs, it is my lot, it seems,
simply to see the way, say,
a raindrop nestles just so here,
amidst these wondrous slabs
of clay-red colors.
A shot of hot energy came through,
sending this roller coaster winter
back up the hill, toward warmth.
Overnight, except in the hollows
and shadows, all of the snow
disappeared and the scent of spring
wafted through the air, lifting
the singing of winter birds, who
in the cold, had been silent.
As my boots pressed into the spongy
earth beneath them, I wondered
what the mosses were whispering
to one another, and whether
the tender roots, just out of sight,
were wiggling in anticipation
of days to come, soon now. Soon.
The places you go when you dream,
the worlds of crystalline light,
of cellular webs and soaring sounds
where high columns lead from room
to room inviting you ever deeper
into amazing secrets and mysteries
are more real than the ground
on which you stand, and truer,
and bless you, even though they flee
in the morning light.
Just when I thought that winter’s
vanilla connection had absconded
with her supply, she came through,
and we all got a giant lick of snow.
It wasn’t the full half gallon, but
it was plenty for making angels,
and the trees laughed nonetheless.