Christmas Special: The Snowman ~ Raymond Briggs

As this week is Christmas week, I will be doing something special on the days I post.  Today we will begin with one of my favourites and, what better way to start, than with a few words from the Author himself:

“I remember that winter because it had brought the heaviest snows I had ever seen. Snow had fallen steadily all night long and in the morning I woke in a room filled with light and silence, the whole world seemed to be held in a dream-like stillness. It was a magical day… and it was on that day I made the Snowman.” – Raymond Briggs

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Wednesday Poem: A Trenta-Sei of Mixed Feelings at the Early Onset of Winter~ Maryann Corbett

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A Trenta-Sei of Mixed Feelings at the Early Onset of Winter

with apologies to the shade of John Ciardi

As the first flakes are caught in streetlight-glimmer,
you gasp: Lovely! Your gasping throat still raw,
the truth grips like catarrh: a Midwest winter
beautiful? Like a left hook to the jaw,
the knuckled, scraping wait for spring’s mud-brown.
You bend your mind to months of hunkering down.

You gasp. Lovely? Your gasping throat still raw,
outward you bound to boisterous winter sports!
Thrill to the wind chill! (When will the fingers thaw?)
Joy! when the frozen stiffs stagger indoors!
(And what in this routine vaguely recalls
old saws that feature banging, and heads, and walls?)

The truth grips like catarrh: a Midwest winter
makes short work of its fairy tale. Snow-white
soils itself on plows. Ice-daggers splinter,
murder-minding the pavement. Ice-dams blight
cold attics. Traffic slogs and spins awry.
The bus slings up a wad of slush at an eye.

Unbeautiful. Like a left hook to the jaw—
except those fugitive seconds of pure peace:
Silence of evening shoveling, when you saw
that famous moonlight. Snow sculpting the trees.
Benches, fences slathered like wedding cakes.
Streetlights. Indigo dark, and the clean flakes.

The knuckled, scraping wait for spring’s mud-brown
craves every beauty bagged in the tangled mind
for cold-comfort. Sucks the marrowbone
of song. Tongues at old poems jarred and brined
like olives. Hears the orchard, shiver-thinned,
keen to itself: the sweep of easy wind….

You bend your mind to months of hunkering down:
You load the chafing dish. You light the sterno.
You heat the buttered rum. You cannot drown
your memory of those stanzas from the Inferno
at the tale-end of the terza rima spell
where Hell is cold. Where cold is the heart of Hell.

Maryann Corbett

Mid Evil
The University of Evansville Press

Sonnet to Winter ~ Emily Chubbuck Judson

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Sonnet to Winter

Thy brow is girt, thy robe with gems inwove;
And palaces of frost-work, on the eye,
Flash out, and gleam in every gorgeous dye,
The pencil, dipped in glorious things above,
Can bring to earth. Oh, thou art passing fair!
But cold and cheerless as the heart of death,
Without one warm, free pulse, one softening breath,
One soothing whisper for the ear of Care.
Fortune too has her Winter. In the Spring,
We watch the bud of promise; and the flower
Looks out upon us at the Summer hour;
And Autumn days the blessed harvest bring;
Then comes the reign of jewels rare, and gold,
When brows flash light, but hearts grow strangely cold.

Emily Chubbuck Judson

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Skating the Shaker Ponds ~ Dudley Laufman

Skating the Shaker POnds

Skating the Shaker Ponds

You know the Shakers have six ponds in the woods,
All within walking distance of each other
and from us as well,
Not to mention a seventh, mile and a half below.
All connected by ditches.

One day in December some time ago
before the snow came,
We had a spell of cold weather.
Mercury dropped to ten scratches
Beneath the hole for three nights running.
Morning of the fourth day
Snow was predicted by nightfall,
Fact was, the sky was yellow gray by eleven.
Gonna skate, gotta do it now.

Through the woods up to the North Pond.
Long and narrow, Glimmerglass smooth.
We skated the length in two minutes,
Off with skates and through some bony marsh
Onto Runaway, the largest of the seven
with an island to go around twice, then
Race down the middle to the dam.
Skates off and over a trail to the earth dam
east end of Fountain, putting in,
Skirting the shore to the spillway end.
Boots on and along the pine needled
woods road to the
Cluster of three ponds below the Village.

Snow starting.

Around the top one quick, then
Tip toe on skate points to the middle pond
where the swan lives year round now.
Over the dam dropping right onto the lower pond,
Skating into a snow swirl that skimmed the ice,
starting to stick to the shore.
We called it quits.

Inch of snow on the ground by the time we got home.
We buttered up hot rum and maple syrup
Sprinkled with cinnamon, sat by the stove saying,
We should do that again, take in Carding Mill too.

But we never have.
That was twenty years ago.

Dudley Laufman

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