Winter?

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The birches and hardwood saplings are bowed again, weighted by another load of ice that slim trees can’t hold up.  Along Canterbury Road, the route we walk most and often our way into the woods, there were trees still hanging over the gravel a week after the heavy wet storm in November and many of them finally broke, young trunks snapped to expose white wood. There is debris all over the old roads we walk in the woods and we’re using the broken branches of maple and lilac we picked up in the yard as kindling. The world falling apart in sticks.

IMG_3447Today it’s ice-bowing time even more so.  The snow last night, overlaid with sleet then freezing rain then rain coated the world with up to a quarter inch of ice and now the birches aren’t just bowed over the road, they’re blocking it.  Our neighbors that live further down Canterbury Road have created a woven path to drive around the ice-laden crowns of the trees now bent all the way to the road.

I’ve just finished reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, a book I wouldn’t have read except it’s for my book club, and isn’t that what book clubs are for, to cause you to read books you otherwise might not?  Aside from The Poisonwood Bible, a novel I remember as exceptionally good, I’ve never cared for Kingsolver’s heavy messaging in her novels, how her stories and characters serve a larger statement about some sorry state of the world rather than trusting that describing the trajectory of one life will resonant for others who’ve been on wholly different paths.

IMG_3457And Flight Behavior is no different.  The story of Dellarobia, accidentally named after a cheesy crafting product when the name could have come from an Italian sculptor or scripture, which says plenty about the hardscrabble circumstances of Dellarobia’s life that land her dissatisfied to the point of desperation until she finds a mountainside of monarch butterflies displaced from their usual Mexico winter habitat due to weather shifts caused by global warming.  As heavy as the story could have come off, it works as a novel.  Yes, the warnings about climate change are a bit much, and Kingsolver lays on the symbolism pretty heavily, but I recognized Dellarobia as an interesting person I wouldn’t otherwise know, so I stayed with her story and was not dissatisfied with how it was handled.

IMG_3462On this miserable day of icy snow, which ruined the ponds and lakes for skating (my skating friends and I have been on a pond, the lakes would have been perfect in another day) and doesn’t leave nearly enough snow for skiing, it’s easy to feel the hard reality of climate change.  There seem to be fewer and fewer good years for skating and skiing. Didn’t we used to reliably skate by Thanksgiving, the lakes freezing before the heavy mid-winter snows came?  Snow that when it came always seemed ripe for skiing?

I don’t think I have it wrong.  Something definitely has changed.  That doesn’t keep the ice-encased world from being beautiful, and so today it was a walk, weaving under small trees bent over every road we walked, looking at buds encased in ice, inching our eyes up trunks to  where a tree had broken, immersed in the new world, which is the world every day.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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4 Responses to Winter?

  1. Sharon says:

    You speak truth, Grace – thank you.

    • Grace Mattern says:

      You’re welcome. I’ve enjoyed reading what you’ve had to say about this latest round of nasty weather.

  2. Wow Grace – I really resonate with this one. I also find Kingsolver’s work heavy handed. What I love about this post is you coming to understand that ice, bent-over trees and fungi are a part of the landscape as well as the skating and skiing without proselytizing. Great piece of writing and honesty. Thank you for this. I know how hard it is sometimes to put what we love so much in a more unbiased perspective. You did a beautiful job here. Very inspiring! Andrea

    • Grace Mattern says:

      Thanks, Andrea. Your positive feedback is great to get and inspiring for me. Love that you’re doing small stones again.

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