chocolate is a verb

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Tag Archives: snow

found poem: a pale wind

the day after

2016-12-09 snow feetBellingham, Washington, isn’t known for snow. Memorable storms are rare enough that residents recall them by year. More typically we get a couple of doses each year accompanied by an icy blast of Arctic chill.

After a region-stalling storm prediction in October (the storm never materialized), the weather-callers have been reluctant to over-promise this week except to say that driving could be hazardous. While higher elevations received a snow-angel-worthy dumping, low-lying Bellingham got a scant half-inch overnight. The temperature is creeping up over freezing, rain is predicted, and life will soon return to winter-normal: wet.

But this morning, a wonderful quiet surrounds the house, and the locals — juncos, sparrows, chickadees — are busy with their flitting and foraging, exploring the sheltered margins of the yard and the places where fronds of spruce, juniper, or pine offer a moment’s respite from wind and cats.

found poem: because

found poem: you

trying

dwarf pieris and elkhorn cypress
It’s trying to snow, but the sky is lazy, the ground dusted white, the air sprinkled with barely tangible flakes. In the gray light, the greens are darkened to nearly black and the golden evergreens (juniper, hinoki) look jaundiced and burnt.
Still, there are moments of grace: cotoneaster stripped of everything but its brilliant red berries, pink-budded dwarf pieris and elkhorn cypress (Thujopsis dolobrata) nodding neighbors, chickadees hopping among the bare branches of the crabapple.

found poem: I’ve been

funny…

THE TOBOGGAN…

It’s snowy…

THE DAY…

for reading…

early light…

plum buds in snowAt 4:30 a.m. I open my eyes and see a strange light shining through the window onto the east wall. Sitting up, I discover that the nearly-full moon has settled into a cleft between hillside trees to shine into my bedroom, across a surprise snowscape, for the last few minutes before moonset. In the moon’s glow, the ground shines upward and every twig is limned with light.

the snows…

Snowy Owl Copyright © 2011, Alan D. WilsonYesterday, the snowy owls. At home, a few snowflakes fall into the partially sunny morning, then stop. We drive north, lunch in a nearly-empty Mexican restaurant. Just across the border, the snow begins in earnest, blowing hard at the car, sticking.

Just as quickly, it’s over, scraps of blue sky, raggedy clouds, storm moving across the wide Delta in dark columns. At Boundary Bay, wind, chaotic sky, but no rain or snow.

We see whitish lumps far out toward the water, but even with binoculars can’t quite distinguish them from bleached logs or plastic bags. Then, glancing down at the tumbled logs just below the trail, round white heads. Two. No, three. Perhaps 40 feet away, watching, unperturbed by the fans, the paparazzi, the dogs, the overflying bald eagles. The spotting scope brings them close. We watch. The doll-like swiveling of their heads, the slow and complicated closing of their eyes, which look like watching eyes even when they’re closed.

We walk on, our own eyes learning the language of owls, now seeing them there, and there, and there. Mostly they sit in the lee of logs, watch, sleep, preen, but some perch on snags and a couple fly on wide white wings, one gliding impossibly, on and on, not more than four inches off the ground. Magnificent.
—–
photo copyright © 2011, Alan D. Wilson

Recipe for snow…

snow recipe, 1

snow recipe, 2Folded among the recipes in the back of the RECEIPTS box was this little note in my grandmother’s handwriting. My mother’s mother was a wonderful grandma, but a less-wonderful mother, and in those opening words, Take out Electric Mixer, I read a hint of her condescension toward my mother.

I remember Lux flakes, the box under the bathroom sink, the dry, pearly-white, soapy-smelling “tiny diamonds” that slipped and slid in your hand. I can almost hear the radio announcer’s booming introduction of Lux Radio Theatre, and the ads for Lux, a sort of banter between the actors and the announcer.

Teweles (too-lees) was a lifelong friend of my grandfather’s who, some years after my grandfather’s demise at age 52, became my grandmother’s second husband. Though there are photos of us together and I was nearly 4 when he died, I have almost no memory of him.

More lasting is Badger Brand note paper, which served well for a number of my childhood drawings. I like the homemade design, the letters hand-drawn, the squeeze on Milwaukee, the stretched phone number, with its prefix and four digits.

And at the end, that appended note, checking up, in a time — 1940s, I’m guessing — when a mother’s $15 check was extravagant, could buy something, and a daughter might not have been quite grateful enough.

20 degrees…

2012-01-18 coastal radarI hear a thump on the patio window where nothing should be thumping and discover a chickadee, flapping desperately around the enclosed space. It probably sought a moment’s respite in the narrow slot on top of the swinging door into the back yard, then turned left instead of right. I open the big door; the bird flits away.

It’s not snowing, just blowing. White gusts from the northeast sweep up billows of the night’s powdery snow. Rhododendrons and daphne leaves clutch tight and dark, a junco hops in the plum tree. In this mild, benign place of rain and green, islands and Salish Sea, this is our hurricane, our flood. It rivets us, like the crashed cruise ship in Italy, and we become sudden fans of weather, snow, historic records, predictions. We discuss microclimates. We quote Cliff Mass. We close early, cancel meetings. We worry about the people who live outdoors, about our friends with travel plans. We worry about frozen pipes. We eye the wood pile, wonder about the etiquette of shoveling the sidewalk, look more frequently than usual out the window.

We forget, for the moment, the enormous swaths of the planet that live with this and worse for six months of the year. Places where 20 degrees is balmy.

We are dazzled by the spotlight of headlines shining on us, by the concerned calls and e-mails, by the gorgeous snow-globe photos populating Facebook.

Then we check the thermostat, have another slurp of coffee and get down to the day’s work.
—–
coastal radar image

visitor…

deer prints in snowWhen I went outside this morning to see whether, by some miracle, the newspaper had arrived earlier than usual, I discovered that a visitor had come and gone. After most of the night’s snow had fallen, along the front of the house, up to the front door, then away, down the path to the sidewalk. One visitor. Small hooves. No note.

pretty…

cinder blocks in the snowOvernight, a little snow added to what was left of yesterday’s and this morning everything looks pretty, sugared, frosted. The holiday and snow conspire to discourage all but urgent car travel, and the urban sledders, snowshoers and cross-country skiers have the street mostly to themselves.

The snow is coming down, confused by a light breeze. Near the house, the flakes seem almost to hit the window, then turn and lift, hover and finally land.

A flock of tiny birds, perhaps 30 of them, flutters into the plum tree to peck at the snowless undersides of the branches, each little bird hanging, hopping, pecking upside-down until someone gives the signal and they dart away to their next snack, a scatter of silhouettes against the pale gray sky.

the third Sunday in January…

cotoneaster in the snow
Having dawdled away most of the morning, I glance out the window, where winter’s first snow is floating down in fat, moist flakes.

signs of spring…

apple tree and hydrangea in the snowJust when it seems that spring may be settled in — daytime temperatures rising, grass in need of mowing, apple and plum trees blooming, tulips opening — the weather pulls a sleight of hand: snow.

Fat flakes stream down to give everything one last coating of winter. Ninety minutes of December, then the dripping begins.

morning light…

Snowdrift swirls across the road, off the roof in a swift cloud. Last night’s dusting dry and scant, lifted by the icy wind to vanish into the morning sun. Rhododendron leaves darkened and folded tight against the cold, spring held off for yet another day.

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