By the shovelful

A letter to friends. First things first. Snow.

There really is no clearer demonstration of how rare it is to call something beautiful
that isn’t also dangerous. One of those unique instances nowadays
that’s impossible to argue with. I mean, look up. It’s that same cluttered,
pupil-shrinking prism for all of us. Weather.
And we fall under it.
What does that tell us?
The tilt of our wonderfully imperfect earth. The pull of the moon, pulled like a rib
from the belly of our world. The storied soil we work on and eat from and take on
yet cry and bemoan any opportunity or demand to give back. Which is inevitable.

It disrespects the dead to fear death this much.

That’s what winter is for. Every year, for a month, or a few, our planet tries to bury us.
Freeze us out. Toughen us up. Shed old leaves and dream and make plans for spring
staring longingly into fires as we listen for kettles to whistle
more eager than dogs do for dinner bells.

Wheels are not really ideal for snow.

Clothing becomes a form of shelter. As much home as one can carry worn like armor.
It can be the difference between a good day and that one day. Extra gloves. Dry socks.
Nature Valley bar. Lukewarm coffee.
It really is the little things that separate being outdoors from hell on earth.
Come equipped. Be stubborn about it. Dress in layers. Prepare for change.

A good nickname for winter. Change. Different.
Roll with the punches off a rolling earth.
Be buried up in ice and frozen rain and dig a way out.
By the shovelful. Claw with bare hands if you have to.

Show up.

A pretty titanic lesson that’s been working on me over the past year.
Which events of life am I truly willing to let deter me. Cold? Rain? Snow?
Were these elements not in the forecast when I set my plans. My intentions.
Yes. Of course they were.
These seasons have been forecast for millennia.
Put your boots on and play in them. Shovel out the drive and go adventuring.
Leave some tracks in something that was pristine when you first got there.
Perfect. Clean. And powder. Like paper. Put a story in it.
The greatest form of flattery is imitation.
So show winter it is not the only one of us who is willing to change.

Say to the earth, this is how I roll.
I, like you, stop for nothing.

Bitter Fruit

The smell of cold. Dry. Sharp. A little sour white wine.
Whereas, usually, white wine is sweet. This winter is bitter.
Ice like bulletproof glass like stemware cupping all this snow
like a lightning slick bowl. Buried beneath flimsy bubbly
porous wine kept at the top of the refrigerator
too close to the freezer.

Chunky and slushy and heavy on the bottom with dirty foam on top.
Smell it. When you open the door. First thing.
The fuzzy insides of your nostrils stiffen.
Lungs have frosty fingers playing them like accordions.

Eyes sting.
Ears ring.
Cheeks are numb and lips become brittle.

Cold.
A season all on its own.
Icey disposition head buried in snow.

It is bitter weather.
It climbs into the fruit.
And it changes the flavor of the wine.

At another time, it could have been sweet.
But not this season. Too dry.
Just a thick sniff of it,
will freeze a tear to your eye.

Eyes like snowshoes

White fields framed by nighttime trees. And city orange.
Awash in fluorescent yellow. Eyes can leap where feet will never go.
And leave oval footsteps in undriven snow. Covering many miles though.
Eyes begin to tread slow. Chug like four engines no lack of motive through frozen scenes.
Ice lined creeks and snow buried streams.
A pond any old sinner could walk on.
Stalked by great fractured double u’s formed of flocks of geese.
The hungry sound made by their thousands of beaks and wings.
Throats like hard rubber.

Navy blue cap pulled down over ears pierced by studded stars.
And that great gauged bone colored earlobe of a moon.
At the outset of winter. Seems the sun gets snuffed too soon.
Makes street lights sparkle embers on the ends of extinguished wicks.
A trickle of waxy smoke in our breath.
Town lights go on as far as eyes can see.
And stars. And snow fields. Stuck ponds.
And dark clouds that honk loud as cars.
They go on much farther.
Miles past eyes can see.

But that doesn’t stop them from trying.