Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Writing

Hal Borland is one of my favorite authors. He lived a mere five or six miles from my home but I didn't find that out until he passed away. I often walk down the dirt road where his farm is located, trying to see what he saw through his eyes and through his words. My Sunday morning writing partner is also a Borland admirer. Here's her prompt for today's effort.


Balancing the Year.
"The short days are upon us. It will be another week before the Winter solstice, but the day's change now is slight. Daylight, sunrise to sunset, will shorten only another two minutes or so before it begins to lengthen. The evening change, in fact, has already begun; the year's earliest sunset is past; but sunrise will continue to lag on through the year's end....We come to a long Winter night when the moon rides full over a white world and the darkness thins away. For the full-moon night is as long as the longest day of Summer, and the snowy world gleams and glows with an incandescent shimmer.
Year to year, we remember the short days, but we tend to forget the long nights when the moon rides high over a cold and brittle-white world. Not only the moon nights, but the star nights, when it seems one can stand on a hilltop and touch the Dipper. Who would not cut wood and burn a candle for a few such nights a year?" - Hal Borland, Sundial of the Seasons, Dec 16

PROMPT: Have a conversation with Hal, responding to his statements.


My Conversation with Hal

Hal. The short days are upon us.

Me. I’ve been noticing. I sit with my book of an afternoon or I glance out the kitchen window and darkness is swallowing the blue so I check the clock and it’s only 3:45 and I think, “Already?” Of course full dark doesn’t descend until 4:45 or so but the daylight gives way to dusk far earlier at this time of year. The earliest sunset was on December 8th, almost two weeks before the solstice.

H. It will be another week before the Winter solstice, but the day's change now is slight. Daylight, sunrise to sunset, will shorten only another two minutes or so before it begins to lengthen.

M. And that’s why this is my favorite time of year. The change is negligible but consistent – it’s more than hopeful, it’s a certainty that the earth is turning once again toward spring.

H. The evening change, in fact, has already begun; the year's earliest sunset is past; but sunrise will continue to lag on through the year's end....

M. …and that’s okay with me. I like to waken in the predawn hours and watch the light spread across the sky. Even on snowy days like today, the light creeps up the edges of the earth and spills in my window.

H. We come to a long Winter night when the moon rides full over a white world and the darkness thins away. For the full-moon night is as long as the longest day of Summer, and the snowy world gleams and glows with an incandescent shimmer.

M. I’ve been out of doors on such nights when the earth seems to hold its breath and the only sounds are of my own breathing and the pulse of my own warm blood. I walk the moonpath then, ever watchful for night creatures – owl, fox, coyote. Only once have I seen an owl, ghostly, silent, gliding from its perch in a tree I passed.

H. Year to year, we remember the short days, but we tend to forget the long nights when the moon rides high over a cold and brittle-white world.

M. Not all of us forget. You don’t. I don’t. There are times I would have been happy to meet you in the cold stillness and stand looking across the moonlit snow, knowing that this was as right as the longest of summer days, this time of rest, of dormancy, of renewal.

H. Not only the moon nights, but the star nights, when it seems one can stand on a hilltop and touch the Dipper. Who would not cut wood and burn a candle for a few such nights a year?


M. There is a sharp satisfaction in being both inside and outside on such nights. The cold is bracing, shivery, even cruel. To return to the warmth of a house where a fire burns and a candle stirs the darkness is to know heaven in two realms.

8 comments:

Wisewebwoman said...

"where a fire burns and a candle stirs the darkness".

I love the idea of the candle. Beautifully written. I'd never heard of this author. Must track some of his work.

Thanks!

XO
WWW

Molly said...

Beautiful. This time of year, even here, we get some nights when the moon is riding high and the stars sparkle in the cold navy-blue of the winter sky. I'd join you two on that hill to drink it all in, as long as the cottage, with it's welcoming fire, wasn't too far away...

Brian Miller said...

smiles....what a fun conversation...there is joy in being both inside and out on days like that...i like to look deep in the vastness of space....on nights like that....

Tabor said...

What a good exercise and you have handled it well keeping with the feeling of the first paragraph. You make me want courage to head out on a dark night.

Out on the prairie said...

Very nice, just coming in from a 18 degree hike so welcomed the warm house.

Michael Manning said...

Nice post. I'll have to check out this author!

A Cuban In London said...

I agree with the first poster. Your language is beautiful and your imagination intoxicating. A very creative post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for you and your family.

Greetings from London.

Pauline said...

Thank you, WWW. Hal Borland wrote several books and nature essays that have influenced the way I look at the world.

Molly - no fire in the cottage but it's cozy nonetheless. Come visit!

Just so, Brian!

Tabor - I live in a safe enough neighborhood and I have woods accessible just across the yard…

OOTP - I appreciate my warm cottage especially after a cold hike!

Thanks, MM. Let me know how you like him?

And the same to you, Cuban. And thank you for the comment - it warmed my heart…