All at Once and Everywhere

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Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first

through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop

and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.

I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening

a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.
~David Budbill  – “Winter: Tonight: Sunset”from While We’ve Still Got Feet. © Copper Canyon Press

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Within these days of early winter
is disappearance of the familiar world,
of all that grows and thrives,
of color and freshness,
of hope in survival.

Then there comes a moment of softness amid the bleak,
a gift of grace and beauty,
a glance of dropping sun on a snowy hillside,
a covering of colorful cloud puffs in the valley,
a view through melting ice,
and I know the known world is still within my grasp
because you have hold of me.

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photo by Nate Gibson

December Moon

 

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a full moon in Ireland

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
where the wild creatures ranged
while the moon rose and shone.

why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we’ll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.
–  May Sarton, December Moon

 

Near midnight, a 4.8 earthquake centered off Vancouver Island occurred only 30 miles from us.
Friends a few miles away were jolted awake in their beds yet I was still up and felt nothing whatsoever.
Like nocturnal secrets that happen routinely outside our windows without our awareness,
we miss amazing things if we’re not paying attention.

We sleep our lives away
or we can stay tuned.

Why did the dogs bark in the night?
Could be a cat or raccoon walked by,
or an intruder,
or the moon was just so compelling
there was no other rational response.

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photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

A December Tenderness

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From the tawny light
from the rainy nights
from the imagination finding
itself and more than itself
alone and more than alone
at the bottom of the well where the moon lives,
can you pull me
into December? a lowland
of space, perception of space
towering of shadows of clouds blown upon
clouds over
                  new ground, new made
under heavy December footsteps? the only
way to live?
The flawed moon
acts on the truth, and makes
an autumn of tentative
silences.
You lived, but somewhere else,
your presence touched others, ring upon ring,
and changed. Did you think
I would not change?
                              The black moon
turns away, its work done. A tenderness,
unspoken autumn.
We are faithful
only to the imagination. What the
imagination
             seizes
as beauty must be truth. What holds you
to what you see of me is
that grasp alone.
~Denise Levertov “Everything that acts is actual”
Within these days of early winter
is disappearance of the familiar world,
of all that grows and thrives,
of color and freshness,
of hope in survival.
Then there comes a moment of softness amid the bleak,
a gift of grace and beauty,
a glance of sunlight on a snowy hillside,
a covering of low cloud puffs in the valley,
a moon lit landscape,
and I know the known world is still within my grasp
because you have hold of me.
~EPG
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No Time to Bloom

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

I see buds so subtle
they know, though fat, that this is no time to bloom.
~John Updike from “December, Outdoors”

Our local grocery store garden center does not do a brisk business selling buds. There is no market for the subtlety of potential.

Overnight unsold poinsettias and fresh evergreen wreaths were hauled away with the oddly shaped and drying Christmas trees to make way for containers of unbearably cheerful primroses and early forced narcissus and hyacinth plants.  Now just a week into winter, spring is right in our faces as we wheel past with the grocery cart, a seductive lure to effectively skip a whole season of restorative quiet.  Color and fragrance and lush blooms are handed to us without taking a breather and simply waiting a couple months for them.

Dormant plants and hibernating animals have the right idea this time of year.   Rather than slogging daily through the daily burden of mud, skittering precariously across icy pavement or reaching up out of snow drifts, they are staying busy taking a break.  Well fed and pregnant with potential, they remain alive and well beneath a facade of sleep.  Come out too early and risk frostbite.

It’s no time to bloom right now — being a bud is exactly what is needed, no out of season blossoms need apply.
We can stay busy swelling with potential and dreaming dreams of the glorious growth to come.

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten