Winter Woods

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We haven’t had much of a winter, so there has been very little time this season to enjoy the beauty of winter woods — snow-draped hemlocks, the monochrome world of white on dark-almost-black pines, the painting of tree trunks on the wind side of a storm.  But it finally happened last week — a snowstorm.

I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I skied twice on Thursday and twice again on Friday, and yesterday David and I went snowshoeing, our first time this year.  There was barely enough snow to need snowshoes, and the storm’s drapery had melted and run off in the warm temperatures and rain on Saturday, but it was still wonderful to be out, to be sinking into the lull that comes from one foot in front of the other among trees.

We took a quick side trail off our path down to a little gorge, where the Narrows Brook curls around a steep bank.  I always marvel at this spot, because it’s less than a half mile from my house, but I didn’t find it until I’d lived here for over 20 years.  There used to be a small wooden bench here, which has since fallen over and disappeared into the wetness of this dark but beautiful spot.  Eric and I would walk or ski or snowshoe here and sit on the bench.  This lovely corner of my world shows up in one of the poems from The Truth About Death.

A Trick

Now you are the gate in, as you were the path back
to my life when I saw you after my crash, minutes
of my life I will never remember, scars I didn’t notice
when you were alive. Your eyes have moved into mine,
we notice details – a twig on snow, lichen on an oak,
gray barely begun to be green, sap running again,
a predictable trick, the course of a brook through marsh
and meadow, around shaly cliffs of a hill of hemlocks,
gravity always in play, my fall from the bike, my lost
teeth, your death, my life, prizes we never expected.

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