Wednesday, January 25, 2012

mild weather, melt, compost, Stevens

I don't know what the winter has been like around you, but presumably it's been a lot like it's been around me: mild.  Then again, some of you are in Europe, and some of you are even further afield AND in the opposite hemisphere, so I suppose it doesn't make too much sense to conjecture about your weather.  Weather.  Men love to talk about the weather.  I get letters from Stan (and send him letters too), and nary a one of his closes without a mention of the weather in New Mexico.  The same is true for my letters.  Another great day here in Massachusetts.  Very blue skies.  And so forth.  We had some snow recently—"finally" is probably the more appropriate word—but the temperatures rose and the sun came out, and now most of that snow is gone.  My backyard was a swamp yesterday because the low-lying ground was frozen and the water from the melted snow had no place to run.  A drive through some farmland in nearby Hadley proved more of the same: pools of melted snow and dingy green fields.  And the gulls have come inland early this year—or do they just live here year round?  Whatever the case, you can find them in the fields in the early spring, especially after a tractor has come through and tilled. 

I woke up this morning and started crying over lost love.  What?  Come again?  But it's true.  Eight-thirty A.M. found me quietly sobbing, just a couple repressed sobs and then I sucked in a deep breath and sat down to write about compost.  I went out into the backyard yesterday to check on my compost piles—I have three different piles—and I was pleased to see that they'd shrunk, though "shrunk" is the wrong word.  Time and rain and gravity and snow have compacted them, have aided the process of their decomposition.  Compost matures as it shrinks.  It was late January, and as I stood there inspecting my piles, I was thinking about the future, how we really don't know what our futures hold, but even so we can be sure that our compost will ripen.  When nothing appears to be happening, something is still happening.  I went around front to have a look at my garden.  In August it looked like this...

but now it looks like this...

But "this" isn't such a terrible thing.  There is some beauty and hope in this.  And I do not mean that the weather has been mild and beautiful—that is actually somewhat disturbing—I mean that beauty is always happening, even when the opposite appears to be true.  All winter I have been thinking about this Wallace Stevens poem, The Snow Man.   

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
And that seems like a suitable place to end this post about the winter.  

1 comment:

Dr. Crowbar said...

Winter isn't such a long time.