This morning, as I walked around the park behind my home, I
watched one of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever seen. Liquid fire
streamed over the Wasatch mountains to torch the bottoms of blue-grey cotton
ball clouds with an electric red-orange, changing to apricot, to peach, then
fading back to grey like a rod of iron heated nearly white-hot in a forge, then
slowly cooled. I was in awe, grateful that my morning exercise had coincided
with such splendor.
This afternoon one of my sons and I stood outside in shirt
sleeves. At that point it was still a lovely day—nearly clear blue skies,
moderate breezes, and sunshine—mood music courtesy of the waterfall in my
Tonight the wind, no longer friendly, has adopted a decided
chill. Cold shoulder clouds are streaming down from the Arctic, bringing what I
consider complete anathema. . .snow. Tomorrow I’ll be shoveling.
And the forecast says there’s no visible end in sight.
What is descending upon us reminds me of a poem I penned, years
ago, on a cold, windy, snow-driven winter’s day. It expresses my feelings about
the season as well as the hope that sees me through.
Wyoming winter stretches on
Through evening grey and muted dawn—
A fierce, forbidding winterscape
Of ice and snow and wind, to shape
A bleak and barren emptiness
That shrouds the spirit with finesse.
Each dreary day of somber hue
Demands depression as its due,
Extracting energy and cheer
Until the spirit is as drear
And lifeless as the blowing snows
That sift and drift in endless rows.
But when all life seems at its ebb,
Forever tangled in that web
Of desolation, dark and drear,
A chick-a-dee pipes up, “Spring’s here!”
And, suddenly, the crushing jaw
Of winter’s endless, gaping maw
Is closed. And joyous in its stead,
A glorious springtime rears its head.
The dawn, so muted yesterday,
Bursts gaily on the world to say
In colors, vibrant, ‘cross the sky,
“Arise and live again! Spring’s nigh!”
A note on that poem….
I entered it in the recent League of Utah Writer’s contest for
rhymed poetry. And won second place. Hmmm. Either there were only two of us
entering or the competition wasn’t very versatile with rhymed poetry.
The critique said I had a ‘big lapse toward sentimentality and
overly used phrasing’. The judge was 'troubled' with "desolation, dark and
drear" and the piping chick-a-dee wasn’t 'a strength' unless I was 'paying
some kind of clear homage or tribute to Wordsworth and Percy Shelley'. He wants
to see me use my skills 'more in service to the 21st century
rather than the 19th'.
Right. That ain’t gonna happen. I tend to become very impatient
with most 21st century poetry. Enough said.
However, it was an interesting critique.
Was I paying homage to Wordsworth and Shelley? Not purposefully.
But I couldn’t be more honored than to have someone think of their poetry when
reading mine. They were masters. I, on the other hand, write poetry only when
flooded with intensely strong feeling. It isn't something I can serve up at a
moment's notice - or even on a month's notice.
So I have to laugh over this poem.
I remember the day well. It was a typical Wyoming winter’s day outside
my Meeteetse home: filled with seemingly endless wind and snow doing exactly
what I described—shaping a bleak and barren emptiness. Such weather does shroud
my spirit. It kills my creativity and my joy, leaving me battling Seasonal
Affectiveness Disorder. And to make that particular day even more enjoyable, I
was fighting something I seldom experience, a numbing migraine headache.
Was I paying tribute to Wordsworth and Shelley? Not really.
Those words expressed, completely, how I felt about the
winterscape outside my window. They also expressed how I longed to hear the harbinger
of spring—a chick-a-dee singing his cheery “spring’s here” notes; how I longed
to see a glorious, vibrant springtime dawn.
Which brings me back to this morning. Was today’s dawn
spring-like? Not even close. The underlying gunmetal grey of the clouds
provided a starkly cold contrast to the liquid fire streaking across the sky.
Although I reveled in its beauty, it held no promise of warmth to come. Even
the lovely weather at mid-day was nothing more than an unusual phenomenon to be
enjoyed in its brief season.
Give me the Rockies silhouetted at sunset.
Give me a blue lake, clear skies and white clouds.
Give me tall fir trees, sweet-scented in summer.
Give me white columbine and cherokee rose.
Give me the country I knew in my youth, And I'll be contented for I'll have found heaven.