A February Face

“Why, what’s the matter, 
That you have such a February face, 
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?” 
–  William Shakespeare,  Much Ado About Nothing

February never fails to be seductive,  teasing of spring on a bright sunny day and the next day all hope is dashed by a frosty wind cutting through layers of clothing.  There is a hint of green in the pastures but the deepening mud is sucking at our boots.  The snowdrops and crocus are up and blooming, but the brown leaves from last summer still cling tenaciously to oak branches, appearing as if they will never ever let go to make room for a new leaf crop.

A February face is tear-streaked and weepy, winter weary and spring hungry.  Thank goodness it is a short month or we’d never survive the glumminess of a month that can’t quite decide whether it is done with us or not.

So much ado.
So much nothing.
So much anything that becomes everything.

Love That Well

photo by Harry Rodenberger

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
~William Shakespeare Sonnet 73

photo by Harry Rodenberger

I may think youth has it all – strength, beauty, energy-
but now I know better.
There is so much treasure in slowing down,
this leisurely leave-taking,
the finite becoming infinite
and a limitlessness loving.
Without our aging
we’d never change up
who we are
to become so much more:
enriched, vibrant,
shining passionately
until the very last.
To love well
To love strong
To love as if
nothing else matters.

photo by Harry Rodenberger

Perchance to Dream

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A kitty we met in Scotland who was willing to share the sun room

I count it as a certainty that in paradise, everyone naps. 
~Tom Hodgkinson

I believe the world would be a better place if we could stop in the middle of the day and just rest our eyes for awhile — to look at the inside of our eyelids for a few minutes, to pause, to pray, to purr…

perchance to dream.   Aye, there’s the rub.

We just might wake and see things differently.

 

A slight breeze stirs tree branches
so shadow patterns play on the curtains
like candlelight in a drafty room.

The harvest is over, corn
stubble and weeds in the field. The sky is

soft blue, a few clouds in the distance.

I will close my eyes, nap for
a while. Perhaps when I wake all will seem
the same. Sleep plays tricks in many ways.
~Matthew Spereng – “Late August, Lying Down to Nap at Noon”

Like a graceful vase, a cat, even when motionless, seems to flow. 
~George F. Will

A Doleful Hymn

Photo taken today across the road from our farm- feeding swans amid the cornfield stubble

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,   
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,   
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,   
Trod with a lighter tread.
~William Butler Yeats from “The Wild Swans at Coole”

I was working outside before the sun was up this rainy morning, preparing the horse barn for our vet arriving to perform an on-the-farm surgery on one of our Haflinger horses.  As I prepared the shavings bedding, feeling anxious about the procedure to take place, I heard sounds overhead that come only a few days a year: the swishing hush of wings in flight and the trumpeter swan “doleful hymn” called out as dozens passed above me in a long meandering line against the early dawn greyness.

The swan flocks predictably arrive in early November to eat their fill, feasting in the harvested cornfields surrounding our farm, their bright white plumage a stark contrast to the dulling muddy soil.  And too soon they lift their long graceful necks and fan out their wings to be picked up the wind, leaving us behind and beneath, moving south, heading year after year for their wintering home.

These incredible creatures bring such joy with their annual arrival and brief stay, their leave-taking  a harbinger for this dying time of year, reminding me once again nothing on earth can last.

“‘Tis strange that death should sing…” but in fact,  ’tis strange that death should fly in and out on silken wings.

I give myself over to their beauty, and walk with lighter tread, singing a new song.

I am grateful my sore heart still soars.

‘Tis strange that death
should sing.
I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death,
And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest.
~William Shakespeare from The Life and Death of King John

The swan, like the soul of the poet,
By the dull world is ill understood.
~Heinrich Heine