I have always liked winter. When I was a child in California, winter was when the rains came and the hills turned green instead of brown. I liked wearing sweaters and wool more than I liked sundresses.
The thing that I have come to love best about winter is the bareness of the trees. In winter the architecture of the world is easier to perceive. I have always seen a parallel between the world in winter and human life in times of stress and difficulty.
I did not always take comfort in that revelation. When I was young I focused on frailty, on loss.
For the winds are bitterly icedAs a young person I perceived (often falsely) the failure of friendships to survive stress. I mistook temporary solitariness for abandonment.
between trees that,
having lost their summer leaves,
are no longer seen as intertwined,
but only tenuously touching a few brittle twigs
here and there;
solitary in a gray world that prevents
even the insubtantial companionship
of a shadow.
December 11, 1972
Over the years, however, I have come to cherish winter as a time of bareness and spareness. Living as I have now for many years with woods and forest all around, winter is a time when the world opens up, when secrets are revealed. Having seen more of human life, and where once I saw bleakness and abandonment, today I see strength, resiliance and people reaching out. It is in the hard and cold times that people draw together, offer each other support.
nature drops her disguises,
forest opens to sky,
rock cliffs are bared,
sheltering leaves fall away,
wind whistles through
tenuously touching twigs.
Walking the forest floor
one sees further, more clearly,
steps more surely
among rocks and fissures.
November 2, 2008
It is interesting to me that I used the phrase "tenuously touching" in both poems - an unconscious echoing. But there is a tenuous drawing away and a tenuous reaching outward. It is the latter I perceive today.