Friday, December 03, 2010


This day began with a hundred geese that rose from the pond at dawn and flew eastward into the sun, the light gilding their undersides. Their cries roused me from sleep, stirring some ancient longing to flee the coming cold. I look out my window at the colors of winter, the buff colored grasses, the shadowed woods, the trees inked in black against a steel sky, and watch the sun paint it all with a gold that spills slowly over the bare tops of the trees and into my yard.


Except for a few days last week when the temperature dipped into the 30s overnight, the weather has been mild. October was a glorious riot of color and somber November has so far boasted temperatures into the 50s. I set off into the early morning with only a jacket. Great drifts of mahogany leaves line the road and here and there a few bittersweet berries glow orange. The pond is a pewter plate, empty now of geese until the afternoon. The mornings belong to the crow and the jay, the chickadee, and the flocks of little purple finches that winter over. The cardinal that sings me awake at 4:30 on summer mornings is silent now, though I’ve seen him at the feeder, he and his dun-colored mate, eating the sunflower seeds I’ve set out for them.

The roadside brush is showing its bones. Great tangled vines of bittersweet curl over leafless bushes. Milkweed pods have dried and burst. I stop to release a last bit of gossamer fluff into the wind, sending the attached seeds on their journey, wondering, as I watch them lift and disappear, where the winter winds might take me. There are times when my life seems as insubstantial as milkweed fluff and I, too, am at the mercy of the prevailing wind.

By noon, the sun is still only a few feet over the horizon and as it descends into the afternoon, the air grows cooler and the wind quiets. By five o’clock the sky is violet and then gray. Night drops its cloak over the day and stars are visible by suppertime. I close the curtains against the dark and listen to the geese gabbling on the pond. One day soon they will fly south instead of east. Despite what the calendar says, that will be, for me, the day winter begins.







Thanks, Hilary!

19 comments:

Judith said...

Very evocative.
This is the first year I'm so strongly feeling "some ancient longing to flee the coming cold."
Yes, we are all "at the mercy of the prevailing wind." Only most times of the year, we don't have to be as aware of it.

Brian Miller said...

ugh...we are supposed to get snow tomorrow...so it begins...lovely sky actually...

Hilary said...

What a beautiful day from start to finish. You speak magic with your words.

Teri said...

I agree with Hilary: your words are magic. Words like gossamer just evoke such an incredible picture in my mind's eye. No wonder you are a writer: you certainly have the talent. Winter: I'm not sure what I think of it so far. I do know that I have great visions of accomplishing something incredible when I wake up but then the grey skies overtake me and I am toast the rest of the day, thinking: "I didn't get much accomplished today."

Marion said...

"There are times when my life seems as insubstantial as milkweed fluff and I, too, am at the mercy of the prevailing wind." I loved this sentence; it is exactly how I feel.

I agree with your first two commenters...Your words are magic! I love coming here to read...every time I feel enchanted!

Pauline said...

Judith - I wouldn't mind not being here in January and February - they are my "head down, trudge through" months. Otherwise, I like winter!

Brian - it's cold and grey here but no measurable snow coming our way yet. Sigh.

Thank you Hilary! :)

Teri - live the Nike motto - just do it!

Marion- thank you :)

Dulce said...

Yes the winter we feel out of the official time... lovely post!
:)

Roberta S said...

A spill of 'gold paint', yes! 'Mahogany leaves', yes! A 'pewter pond', yes!

The simplest of nature becomes a dwelling place of exotic and lavish richness when described by a poetess such as yourself -- and it is more than my materialistic side that revels in that thought.

LauraX said...

beautiful words and images...I can feel your adventure of not just looking but "seeing" as you tell your story:)

Gary said...

I have nothing unique to add here because your words have touched those who have commented before me. You do indeed paint such beautiful images with your words. They bring me peace. That peace of taking a moment without feeling pressure to do the next thing.

herhimnbryn said...

Taking time to appreciate such moments comes with age, I think.

Bundle up, keep warm, walk once a day and draw the curtains at night.

Beautiful P.

Pauline said...

Thanks, Dulce

Ah, Roberta - your are your own kind of poet :)

Laurax, I try always to see.

What a wonderful compliment Gary - thanks!

I'm with you HHB!

Reya Mellicker said...

THis is beautiful. And yeah, the geese know when it's winter. They know.

Barbara said...

I'll bet you secretly can speak bird-talk. It wouldn't surprise me in the least!

Ruth said...

A beautiful piece of descriptive writing, Pauline. I was there with you all day, in nature, where I badly need to get out. I have been sick with a cold and haven't stepped foot outside in 3 days. I loved every word of this, especially "bittersweet" -- I love that plant and wish we had some here.

Meggie said...

You are such a gifted writer. You take me away from my 'real' life!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Congrats on your POTW from Hilary-- It's well deserved. This is a wonderful post.
Cheers, jj

Cricket said...

Very nice. Congratulations on your potw.

Milkweed and bittersweet... my Nana was fond of those. She liked to decorate with them. I'd forgotten that. I remember her stopping on the highway one night and sending me out to cut milkweed from a stand of it.

Winter began for me a couple of days ago, when I went to take out out the trash in my pajamas and really wished I had dressed first. It was 22 degrees. Brr.

Pauline said...

reya - as I write this comment, the geese are all gone. Snow is in the offing for the weekend. Yes, they know.

barbara - I wish I could!

Ruth - sorry you're sick and glad to be a "window."

Thanks Meggie! (Is taking you away a good thing?)

Thanks, Joanna :)

Cricket - thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed your winning post as well :)