“A Winter Eden”
A winter Eden in an alder swamp
Where conies now come out to sun and romp,
As near a paradise as it can be
And not melt snow or start a dormant tree.
It lifts existence on a plane of snow
One level higher than the earth below,
One level nearer heaven overhead
And last year’s berries shining scarlet red.
It lifts a gaunt luxuriating beast
Where he can stretch and hold his highest feast
On some wild apple tree’s young tender bark,
What well may prove the years’ high girdle mark.
Pairing in all known paradises ends:
Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends,
Content with bud inspecting. They presume
To say which buds are leaf and which are bloom.
A feather hammer gives a double knock.
This Eden day is done at two o’clock.
An hour of winter day might seem too short
To make it worth life’s while to wake and sport.
As a graduate of Middlebury College, Robert Frost has always held a special place in my heart. He was Poet Laureate of Vermont, and taught at the Breadloaf School at Middlebury for 42 years. Everyone is familiar with “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”, but his poems that look into the heart of nature are my favorites. They can be bleak, yet hopeful. Never flowery, always honest, always true.
Last year we lost our beloved Molly, seen enjoying the snow in the photo above. She was a “luxuriating beast” but never gaunt. Even in her later years, Molly had bursts of playful energy. She demanded my attention. If all I wanted to do was relax with a glass of wine, she would bop my leg with her nose. If I did not respond, she would bop my wine glass – not hard enough to knock it over, just enough to rock it a bit. If I was so withdrawn that the wine glass trick did not get me to play, she would bop the cat. She was a fat, furry anti-depressant. Molly’s first reaction to snow was to bolt outside, run in tight circles spraying snow everywhere, and then barrel roll. She was pure joy! Snow was new and exciting to her.
As a gardener, I have learned that snow makes my garden a completely new space. Snow covers messes, highlights structures, puts a bright sparkle on the muddy, brown places. It also restores moisture in a slow drip that goes deep down to the roots of thirsty plants.
On this first day of winter I wait for snow (a rarity in NC) and the perspective it brings – a clean contrast of dark and light, a protective blanket over the sleeping plants – and I will honor Molly by running outside when the snow arrives, spinning with the memory of Molly’s tireless joy, knowing that my Winter Eden is preparing for spring.