Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Of Storms and Silence

There's a tiny goldfinch in the center of fallen leaves. See it?
It was a calm day, this day before the next storm making its way up the eastern seaboard. The sun smiled down from a cloudless blue sky. A small breeze danced with falling leaves. Frost made the grass underfoot crunch as I set out to see what the geese on the pond were hollering about. As I crossed the road a bright yellow leaf fluttered over my shoulder. But wait... leaves don't chirp! I looked down. There at my feet, half disguised by a thick pile of oak leaves hunched a tiny yellow finch. Hardly daring to move, I lifted my camera and snapped a shot before the little bird fluttered its wings and lifted off. Though they seldom frequent my feeder in the winter, I read that they stay here year round, braving the cold and snow and bitter winter winds.

Leathery oak leaves brought down by hurricane winds.
Leathery oak leaves have been blown from trees earlier than usual and litter the roadsides. We've had some very strong winds lately and more are due tomorrow night. Just two weeks ago the maples and beeches, the birch trees, walnuts, poplars, and hickories held their colors high. Then came Hurricane Sandy; wind and rain tore the leaves down and flung them far and wide.

Cold weather has bitten the heads off the last of the season's flowers. I spent the day cutting dead stalks, mulching the rosebush roots, filling the bird feeders, turning the mulch that's been collected over the summer. It was so fine a day that I sat on the patio with my afternoon tea, basking in the sunshine that bathed that sheltered nook. Warmer weather will follow the Nor'easter and by Monday the temperature will climb toward the 60s. It will be a welcome treat before cold settles in for the duration.

Garden beds readied for winter.
I love this time of year. I like the gunmetal smell of cold air, the constant conversation of the geese on the pond, the stark pen and ink sketches of leafless branches against a pale sky. I love snow and snowshoeing, hot chocolate and holiday meals, sledding down slippery hills, standing under the Wolf and Snow moons of January and February while stars sparkle like white Christmas lights against a darkened sky. Most of all I like the quiet, the gentle hush of winter mornings, the deep stillness of long nights, the soft whisper of falling snow. To love winter, one simply needs to listen to the peace.

Branches inked onto a sky canvas.


Brian Miller said...

listening to the peace...smiles...and enjoying the gunmetal smell of the air....love the way you put that...we changed so fast....we had an indian summer going on that became winter overnight it seems after the storm....

Molly said...

I'm sure it's lovely....in fact I know it is, but Brrrrrr! Even here I'm already prepared with my flannel sheets, hot water bottle and the makings for hot cocoa!
Love your word pictures, especially the "gun metal smell of cod air" and the "pen and ink sketches of leafless branches..."

Hilary said...

Your little goldfinch buddy looks so sweet amid the fallen leaves. Your description of this season and winter almost make me look forward to it. Almost.

Anonymous said...

As much as I love my short, mild winters, you make me long for a long, snowy one.

"...the stark pen and ink sketches of leafless branches against a pale sky." Beautiful!

Pauline said...

Brian - sometimes winter silence is so deep you can hear yourself think

Molly - I don't mind the cold as long as I can come in out of it when I've had enough :)

Hilary - I was worried that it was a young bird that couldn't fly south but when I looked them up, I learned that many of the sunny yellow finches stay here year round!

Barbara - I'm a New England girl through and through. I've never minded winter and only dislike the ice that makes driving treacherous.

Marion said...

Oh, Pauline, I have missed you and your lovely, creative words and sentences. This post brought tears to my eyes...it sounds so much like the Cariboo, with its wintry silences. I miss it much more than I was prepared for.

The winter here will be mistier, softer, not so sharply defined. It will definitely be noisier, as well, haha! xx

Judith said...

If anyone or anything could reconcile me to the winter, it is you, Pauline, the poet of the seasons and all things natural.
How dare so-called "conservatives" claim that title when their ideology tramples tradition and heritage and values?
Anyone wanting to know what true conservatism is -- that is, cherishing and safeguarding the important things in life and nature --- should just read your blog and your poetry.

Tabor said...

I am glad that you like this time of year, can I send you my winter?

Star said...

Dear little bird. He found some warmth amongst the leaves perhaps?
It's probably your Scandinavian roots that make you to like the winter so. I am the same although my favourite season is Autumn.

Pauline said...

Marion - glad to see you are happily settled and posting again :)

J - thank you! I think there's something wonderful to be said for every season. I'm always looking for something beautiful about every day and so I tend to see something beautiful!

Tabor - looks like we're going to get plenty of our own, but thanks for offering ;)

Star - Some of my distant relatives on my father's side came here from Holland. Others came from Canada. Winter is harsh in both places so it must be in my blood...

June said...

I most assuredly do not love this time of year, but you do make some good points. I'd feel differently, I guess, if I could be out in the daylight hours.

I came here to read, and, as well, to thank you for your 11/6 comment. That's the most welcome sentiment I could ask for.

Murr Brewster said...

What is your goldfinch doing on the ground?

Here's a word for you: pleach. The interlacing of branches against the sky. And one of the many, many, many reasons I adore winter. Even though our winter is mild and wet and gray.

Friko said...

You have almost persuaded me, but then I remember the cold hands and feet, the trudging through snow and mud, the lifeless grey skies hanging over the valley, the shivering birds and the slippery roads.

Still, winter is coming and I can do nothing about it; perhaps I’d better resign myself to see only the beauty of it and enjoy the silence.

PS: Courgettes are zucchinis, we happen to use the French name.

Jean said...

Le silence .
C'est l'Essence de l'ĂȘtre humain .

Meggie said...

I fancy I feel the resting of plants too, in winter. Gathering strength and energy to ready themselves for next Spring.

Peter Bryenton said...

A good read for me as a couch zombie this morning, thanks. Gunmetal smell: very good.