Today’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe.
Winter seems to be loosening its grip here in the North Country. The thermometer by the back door has begun to register in double digits both when I take Sophie out for her early morning walk as well as that last one before bed. We take this as a sure sign of Spring. Bit by bit, the pastures and cornfields all around us are beginning to lose their winter coats of ice and snow. We take this as another sure sign of Spring. And, daylight no longer ends at 4:00 p.m. and raising cups of evening tea to the setting sun. We take this as the surest, and best, sign of Spring.
Today, the Ides of March as it turns out, marks the eighth month of the day when I left New Jersey for good and took up residence at the farm on a permanent basis. Eight months. A good time to take stock of what I’ve been up to.
The Fall was devoted to traveling to London and spending a long stretch of time with my parents, assessing their health and needs, and doing what I could to keep them company and make them comfortable.
From November on, it was all about Winter: preparing for it, coping with it, trying to get ahead of it. February, with its ice and lack of sunlight, was the most challenging. Living on a hillside allows for spectacular views…and also spectacularly icy terrain. I fell at least once a day until I discovered cramp-ons, one of the most useful inventions known to man, IMHO.
Winter was also all about reading – sometimes a book a day. I read all through my many years of teaching, of course, but I read only books abut teaching, or books I wanted to purchase for my sixth graders and our classroom library. I had no idea how much my brain was craving memoirs, biographies, history, and fiction intended for those above the age of thirteen!
Then there was all the reading I needed to do to prepare for the flocks of sheep and chickens arriving this summer: books covering the A to Z of sheeping and chicken coop-ing. The more I read in this department, the more I felt I needed to read.
And, Winter was also about thinking. All the years of raising three children and teaching left very little time for being still, for meditative thinking, for reflecting, for assessing. These past few months of winter solitude and periods of intense isolation allowed for all four. Today, as sunshine pours through all our windows and I can venture outdoors coatless, I feel as though I’ve gone through the process of another becoming.
“Become Becoming” by Li-Young Lee
Wait for evening.
Then you’ll be alone.
Wait for the playground to empty.
Then call out those companions from childhood:
The one who closed his eyes
and pretended to be invisible.
The one to whom you told every secret.
The one who made a world of any hiding place.
And don’t forget the one who listened in silence
while you wondered out loud:
Is the universe an empty mirror? A flowering tree?
Is the universe the sleep of a woman?
Wait for the sky’s last blue
(the color of your homesickness).
Then you’ll know the answer.
Wait for the air’s first gold (that color of Amen).
Then you’ll spy the wind’s barefoot steps.
Then you’ll recall that story beginning
with a child who strays in the woods.
The search for him goes on in the growing
shadow of the clock.
And the face behind the clock’s face
is not his father’s face.
And the hands behind the clock’s hands
are not his mother’s hands.
All of Time began when you first answered
to the names your mother and father gave you.
Soon, those names will travel with the leaves.
Then, you can trade places with the wind.
Then you’ll remember your life
as a book of candles,
each page read by the light of its own burning.