“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
~ John Muir
“…thinking of driving again the gravel roads of America at thirty-five miles per hour in order to see the ditches and gulleys, the birds in the fields, the mountains and rivers, the skies that hold our 10,000 generations of mothers in the clouds waiting for us to fall back into their arms again.”
from “Cold Wind” by Jim Harrison
If you have seen the snow
under the lamppost
piled up like a white beaver hat on the picnic table
or somewhere slowly falling
into the brook
to be swallowed by water,
then you have seen beauty
and know it for its transience.
And if you have gone out in the snow
for only the pleasure
of walking barely protected
from the galaxies,
the flakes settling on your parka
like the dust from just-born stars,
the cold waking you
as if from long sleeping,
then you can understand
how, more often than not,
truth is found in silence,
how the natural world comes to you
if you go out to meet it,
its icy ditches filled with dead weeds,
its vacant birdhouses, and dens
full of the sleeping.
But this is the slowed-down season
held fast by darkness
and if no one comes to keep you company
then keep watch over your own solitude.
In that stillness, you will learn
with your whole body
the significance of cold
and the night,
which is otherwise always eluding you.
“Winter Grace’ by Patricia Fargnoli
“Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air,
Ere, o’er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,
Or snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue gentian-flower, that, in the breeze,
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way,
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea,
And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.”
– William Cullen Bryant, Autum
The summer ends, and it is time
To face another way. Our theme
Reversed, we harvest the last row
To store against the cold, undo
The garden that will be undone.
We grieve under the weakened sun
To see all earth’s green fountains dried,
And fallen all the works of light.
You do not speak, and I regret
This downfall of the good we sought
As though the fault were mine. I bring
The plow to turn the shattering
Leaves and bent stems into the dark,
From which they may return. At work,
I see you leaving our bright land,
The last cut flowers in your hand.
~ “The Summer Ends” by Wendell Berry
Gradually along the range
All things exchange their light
On hills that burned with gold
Merge now in shadow,
And hawks sail out
Over the valley,
Its air like a mirror
Filling with night,
That takes our images
And does not return them,
Just as the pines
Blot out our voices,
And even the stones at our feet
Fade from sight.
Now only the stars
And around us sounds
Of things we cannot see
Begin to rise:
The owl’s single note,
And the coyote’s cry.
“Night in the Mountains” by Heather Allen
“O primavera! Gioventit dell’ anno.”
The first warm buds that break their covers,
The first young twigs that burst in green,
The first blade that the sun discovers,
Starting the loosened earth between.
The pale soft sky, so clear and tender,
With little clouds that break and fly;
The crocus, earliest pretender
To the low breezes passing by;
The chirp and twitter of brown builders,
A couple in a tree, at least;
The watchful wisdom of the elders
For callow younglings in the nest;
The flush of branches with fair blossoms,
The deepening of the faint green boughs,
As leaf by leaf the crown grows fuller
That binds the young Spring’s rosy brows;
New promise every day of sweetness,
The next bright dawn is sure to bring;
Slow breaking into green completeness,
Fresh rapture of the early Spring!
“Spring Song” by Edith Wharton