Winter 2015

Welcoming Winter – 2015: Part I of II

Below – Franklin Carmichael: “Snow Clouds”

Winter Solstice 2015: Part I of II

Below – The Winter Solstice in the Bay Area.

Art in Winter – Claude Monet: “Snow Scene at Argenteuil”

A Poem for Today

“Winter Trees,”
By William Carlos Williams

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

Below – Yukimi Annand: “Winter Trees”

Art in Winter – Camille Pissarro: “Road to Versailles at Louveciennes”

Musings in Winter: Edith Sitwell

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. It is no season in which to wander the world as if one were the wind blowing aimlessly along the streets without a place to rest, without food, and without time meaning anything to one, just as time means nothing to the wind.”

Below – Jennifer Branch: “Fire in the Fireplace.”

Art in Winter – Vincent van Gogh: “Landscape in the Snow with Arles in the Background”

Musings in Winter: Henry David Thoreau

“Nature has many scenes to exhibit, and constantly draws a curtain over this part or that. She is constantly repainting the landscape and all surfaces, dressing up some scene for our entertainment. Lately we had a leafy wilderness; now bare twigs begin to prevail, and soon she will surprise us with a mantle of snow. Some green she thinks so good for our eyes that, like blue, she never banishes it entirely from our eyes, but has created evergreens.”

Below – Walden Pond in Winter.
593 Walden Pond after a fresh snowfall

Art in Winter – Wassily Kandinsky: “Winter Landscape”

A Second Poem for Today

“Mailboxes in Late Winter,”
By Jeffrey Harrison

It’s a motley lot. A few still stand
at attention like sentries at the ends
of their driveways, but more lean
askance as if they’d just received a blow
to the head, and in fact they’ve received
many, all winter, from jets of wet snow
shooting off the curved, tapered blade
of the plow. Some look wobbly, cocked
at oddball angles or slumping forlornly
on precariously listing posts. One box
bows steeply forward, as if in disgrace, its door
lolling sideways, unhinged. Others are dented,
battered, streaked with rust, bandaged in duct tape,
crisscrossed with clothesline or bungee cords.
A few lie abashed in remnants of the very snow
that knocked them from their perches.
Another is wedged in the crook of a tree
like a birdhouse, its post shattered nearby.
I almost feel sorry for them, worn out
by the long winter, off-kilter, not knowing
what hit them, trying to hold themselves
together, as they wait for news from spring.

Art in Winter – Claude Monet: “The Magpie”

Musings in Winter: John Burroughs

“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter…. In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.”

Art in Winter – Grandma Moses: “The Old Bridge in the Valley”

A Third Poem for Today

“Winter Remembered,”
By John Crowe Ransom

Two evils, monstrous either one apart,
Possessed me, and were long and loath at going:
A cry of Absence, Absence, in the heart,
And in the wood the furious winter blowing.

Think not, when fire was bright upon my bricks,
And past the tight boards hardly a wind could enter,
I glowed like them, the simple burning sticks,
Far from my cause, my proper heat and center.

Better to walk forth in the frozen air
And wash my wound in the snows; that would be healing;
Because my heart would throb less painful there,
Being caked with cold, and past the smart of feeling.

And where I walked, the murderous winter blast
Would have this body bowed, these eyeballs streaming,
And though I think this heart’s blood froze not fast
It ran too small to spare one drop for dreaming.

Dear love, these fingers that had known your touch,
And tied our separate forces first together,
Were ten poor idiot fingers not worth much,
Ten frozen parsnips hanging in the weather.

Art in Winter – Edvard Munch: “New Snow in the Avenue”

Musings in Winter: John B. Tabb

“Are ye the ghosts of fallen leaves, O flakes of snow,
For which, through naked trees, the winds A-mourning go?”

Art in Winter – Alex Calder: “Snow Flurry”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“In Winter,”
By Michael Ryan

At four o’clock it’s dark.
Today, looking out through dusk
at three gray women in stretch slacks
chatting in front of the post office,
their steps left and right and back
like some quick folk dance of kindness,
I remembered the winter we spent
crying in each other’s laps.
What could you be thinking at this moment?
How lovely and strange the gangly spines
of trees against a thickening sky
as you drive from the library
humming off-key? Or are you smiling
at an idea met in a book
the way you smiled with your whole body
the first night we talked?
I was so sure my love of you was perfect,
and the light today
reminded me of the winter you drove home
each day in the dark at four o’clock
and would come into my study to kiss me
despite mistake after mistake after mistake.

Art in Winter – Caspar David Friedrich: “Winter Landscape”

On This Date

Died 21 December 1933 – Knud Rasmussen, Danish polar explorer and anthropologist. In the words of one historian, “He has been called the ‘father of Eskimology’ and was the first European to cross the Northwest Passage via dog sled. He remains well known in Greenland, Denmark and among Canadian Inuit.”

Above – Knud Rasmussen.
Below – Rasmussen with his sled dogs in Greenland.

Art in Winter – Ivan Shishkin: “In the Wild North”

Musings in Winter: Craig Childs

“Winter is a long, open time. The nights are as dark as the end of the world.
The elk that you glimpse in the summer, those at the forest edge, are survivors of winter, only the strongest. You see one just before dusk that summer, standing at the perimeter of the meadow so it can step back to the forest and vanish. You can’t help imagining the still, frozen nights behind it, so cold that the slightest motion is monumental. I have found their bodies, half drifted over in snow, no sign of animal attack or injury. Just toppled over one night with ice working into their lungs. You wouldn’t want to stand outside for more than a few minutes in that kind of weather. If you lived through only one of those winters the way this elk has, you would write books about it. You would become a shaman. You would be forever changed. That elk from the winter stands there on the summer evening, watching from beside the forest. It keeps its story to itself.”

Art in Winter – Frederic Edwin Church: “Aurora Borealis”

A Fifth Poem for Today

“There’s a certain Slant of light,”
By Emily Dickinson

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –

Art in Winter – Andrew Wyeth: “Snow Hill”

Musings in Winter: Mignon McLaughlin

“Spring, summer, and fall fill us with hope; winter alone reminds us of the human condition.”

Art in Winter – Hiroshige: “The Drum Bridge and Yuhi Hill at Meguro”

In the words of one critic, “One of the images from One Hundred Views of Edo, his wildly popular series of ukiyo-e prints, this image depicts a rare stone bridge in the city we now call Tokyo. Captured at an oblique angle, the bridge seems dwarfed under the snow-filled sky, and the passersby, shrouded under bamboo hats, get lost in the landscape. Hiroshige’s winter scenes are perhaps his most sensitive; under snow, even the big city feels impermanent.”

Art in Winter – Hiroshige: “Night Snow at Kambara”

A Sixth Poem for Today

“Lines for Winter,”
By Dave Lucas

Poor muse, north wind, or any god
who blusters bleak across the lake
and sows the earth earth-deep with ice.
A hoar of fur stung across the vines:
here the leaves in full flush, here
abandoned to four and farther winds.
Bless us, any god who crabs the apples
and seeds the leaf and needle evergreen.
What whispered catastrophe, winter.
What a long night, beyond the lamplight,
the windows and the frost-ferned glass.
Bless the traveler and the hearth he travels to.
Bless our rough hands, wind-scabbed lips,
bless this our miscreant psalm.

Art in Winter – Taralee Guild: “Winter Cathedral”

Musings in Winter: Philip Pullman

“We feel cold, but we don’t mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn’t feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It’s worth being cold for that.”

Art in Winter – S.J.W. Grogan: “Coyote Caught/Winter Snow”

A Seventh Poem for Today

“Lines for Winter,”
By Mark Strand

for Ros Krauss
Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

Art in Winter – Gary Dee: “Winter Lodge”

Musings in Winter: Henry David Thoreau

“The winter, cold and bound out, as it is, is thrown to us like a bone to a famishing dog, and we are expected to get the marrow out.”

Art in Winter – John Nieto: “Buffalo in the Snow”

Winter Solstice 2015: Part II of II

Below – Wendy L. Wilkerson: “Winter Solstice”

Welcoming Wonderful Winter – 2015: Part II of II

Welcome, my favorite season! I am your loving child.

Below – “Mount Rainier in Winter,” by Toshi Yoshida

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