Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Winterspell

Portal detail from a sculpture, WCU North Carolina Glass
2012--alas, not sure which one this was...

Cheery, agile little bug of a bulldozer starts jingling outside my bedroom window around 6 a.m., cutting down snow walls and thrusting them up-up-up into a dump truck. This is the way of the No'th. I object, but the unremitting cheerfulness continues.

The pyramid glowing in the fireplace resembles a heap of brilliant orange topaz and immediately sets flame to any new spar of wood. It emits heat and sleep. It appears perfect and alien.

Stars. Crystal. Snow snatches at my foot, slips it away. I flail at the air, become buoyant, do not fall. Yet.

There has been snow and will be more snow. Occasionally the windows are so blind with falling flakes that for a moment it feels like the end of the world. I read the news, which seems strangely upside down and inside out. A fatwa against polio vaccination, selfies with the president, wranglings over the existence of global warming, macaques who have learned to steal coins and use vending machines, a teen in a banana costume with a rifle... A boy murders a girl, wishing to sell his soul to the devil. The group Reporters without Borders demotes the country to 46th in press freedom, and the Founding Fathers rotate like factory spindles in the grave. The sky blues and brightens and now begins very slowly, imperceptibly, to gather cloud for tomorrow's snow. "For destruction ice / Is also great."

Bunches. Little bunches. Sparrows, juncos, chickadees, titmouses, the bright exclamation of a cardinal. Stabs at the bowl. Hammerings of a seed against the lilac. The temperature has risen to -5, and the brave little birds flit from the rose canes to the feeder to the lilac and then puff themselves up in the sun. For the first time this winter, I see a goldfinch at the feeder--and now the first purple finch of the year! Perhaps there is hope for another spring.

11 comments:

  1. That is the reassuring thing about Nature: even in the midst of the most depressing moments of winter, we know that there will always be a springtime. Of course, against our own nature, we have to be patient. Hang in there!

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    Replies
    1. Eh, the squirrels have rolled out and are swinging from the bird feeder. Surely that's a sign...

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  2. The lunacy all belongs to mankind; everything else continues, striving towards life and renewal. Almost all of our recent snow has melted off, and this morning was bright and, nearly, warm. I saw a flock of robins as I walked to the bus stop; a flicker, too, heading for the wood south of our house. I could, maybe, start to believe in spring again.

    Mind your step! Don't fall!

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    Replies
    1. Robins! Now that is a sign. (Of course, the coming snow is another sign.)

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  3. I'm sorry winter has been such an ordeal for you and others up north. Here on the Gulf coast, we had a couple of nights of below 32F and a couple of days when everything shut down due to an ice storm. Other than those unusual events, winter here is a treat compared to your neck of the woods. Of course, we do not get to build snowmen, buy snow tires, shovel sidewalks, or go sledding. We did have small children riding down ice covered hillsides while they were sitting in laundry baskets. Innovation counts for something.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, it's all right--what amazes me is that people lived in my house in 1808, when it must have been frigid!

      I've done the laundry basket sledding with my kids, back when I lived in Chapel Hill. They had a great time.

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  4. I do love being inside on such snowy days, and of course have missed that for a good long time, living as I do in arid and warm Southern CA.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Robinka--

      Wish I could send you the current snowstorm!

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  5. Sorry you have been having such a dreadful winter! At least you are staying warm and safe, and hopefully finding some beauty in all that white stuff as you look out. (I've missed it this winter.) Lovely to have all those birds!

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  6. Hope those birds are staying puffed and warm...

    I suppose it's not all that different from the usual upstate winter--just colder more often, and more slippery. Duckwalking time, penguinwalking time. Still think it is pretty to see snow on the ground and sliding past the windowpanes.

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  7. And thank you to Prufrock News for the link! Hello, Prufrock readers--

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.