The Spirit of snow
highlights the love of line
the loving grace of trees in winter
bare and spiritual
the horses a gift of color
in otherwise black and white
December is my favorite time of year. In this month of darkness, in this the darkest month, the light of the human spirit shines forth in a fullness shown by so many, in so many ways. As the days grow shorter, houses and trees are decorated, and snow falls. In the hushed silence of the nights, lights shine in windows, and the beauty is shared by all. For this season of giving brings the festivals of lights: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza. Each tradition incorporates light in its ceremonies and decorations.
In December’s darkness we light lights. For we are beings of light. A light glows within each one of us. And, at the most basic level, we are beings of light because we are made from stardust. Perhaps that is why the stars hold such majesty for us– we are made from star material.
Einstein said: “A human being is part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe”– a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest– a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” We are all cut from the same cloth and our inner light unites us.
And in this holiday season we behold the night sky as shepherds did two thousand years ago on the birth of the holy infant, in a stable like the one down the road where my donkey friend lives. That night a star lit the whole sky to guide the shepherds, and on these deep, long, silent nights as we light our houses, our candles, our trees, let us look inside ourselves and find the glow that may guide us to The Light
A holy Hanukkah, a magical Christmas and the ecstasy of Sadhguru to all for the New Year! May we awaken from Maya and realize the wonders we are… for inside each of us burns the Sacred Light of the Universe.
with fast floating
sunlit white clouds
hides the land
and in the vernal pool
in their hernaculum
while frogs lay
dormant in the mud
I sit in sleepy
glad to be
in our little hideaway
in the woods
of our young dreams
if we will all
to another Spring.
My husband and I sit in our living room with all the little still-intact dairy barn windows showing flakes falling as if we are on ship at sea in a snowfall. Except for the high ceiling the living room has the feeling of a ship cabin, our converted dairy barn, and I think it is most beautiful when the snow is falling.
The glass doors at the pentagon of the far end of the barn gives us perfect view of the suet bird feeder. The bird feeder in winter is our television. We watch male cardinals, bright red in the stark white, feed and contend with the beautiful, bullying blue jays. And the more modest and gentle little juncos and sparrows touch our hearts with their humility.
Like many barns, ours was built near the road so we do get some traffic noise. But in the meadow out back beyond the marsh and stream, we are far removed from the road and from all. And when it snows, it is so beautiful in the quiet, looking at the animal tracks and feeling the spirits in the nearby now-graveless graveyard. Our secret little piece of Paradise. And to stand there in the silence, in the virgin white, and see the abstract patterns of the snow on the surrounding hundreds of trees is Divine.
Christmas and Winter Solstice blessings to all those who have visited Moonside and especially to those to whom I was unable to respond due to physical or mental illness, a HUGE THANK YOU!!
And to all… may you feel the joy of Christmas no matter what your circumstance, color, creed or faith and be blessed by health, happiness and peace in the New Year!
How horrid to be homeless
for creatures from the deep
A tribute to my beloved brother, Tony, who loved this song.
Winter is weary
and we are wary
of yet more snow
and ice to come
Photons of gold
the tail end of winter’s light
and far away
the tail end of the light of day
bright yet almost night
wafting with whispers
of a new season
a new reason
to the silence
of the trees
science knows not
the fog and the snow and the mist
the silent cathedral
in hushed tones
magically transforming all,
dressing trees in white,
These trees now gone,
on the old dirt path,
victims of a wilderness
lost to landscaping,
taming the wild
into manicured parks,
leaving many animals now
leaving a loss
of beauty that once reigned
explosions of blue
out of season
dusting of snow
of the approach of winter
a sugary confection
one is tempted to ingest
a similar temptation
as those tempted by coca.
Sap is flowing through ice and snow
When nature awakens in late March or early April, sap starts flowing in the trees and ice changes to water marking the end of hibernation. This is the grand opening of the wetlands and the pilgrimage to the vernal pools as David M. Carroll writes in his “Swampwalker’s Journal: a Wetlands Year.” A vernal pool is a body of water which fills up in autumn and winter and is swollen in the spring but often dries up completely by the end of the summer. Carroll describes vernal pools so beautifully: “It is at snowmelt and ice-out, the last sleets, first rains, and the earliest warming breaths of spring that they beckon wood frogs, salamanders, and spring peepers from surrounding upland woods, where they have passed the winter in rotted-out trees roots [a reason not to ‘clean up’ the woods], under layers of bark and litter, in small mammal tunnels and other hibernacula in the earth.” The melting snow heralds the march of the amphibians. “Vernal pool habitats hold a galaxy of small things that come to life the instant ice and snow turn back into water.”
Carroll walks the swamps, as the title of his book suggests, in search of mating salamanders and spotted turtles, bogs, fens and all wetland flora and fauna. He tells us that there must be a certain collusion of events– several warm days in a row followed by a darkest of nights with temperatures ideally in the mid-50s with rain preferably two nights in a row. And then the magical migration begins. The salamanders begin their “annual pilgrimage” to the vernal pond to mate.
My husband and I are lucky enough to have a vernal pond on the property next door to us and when Spring comes the sound at night from that pond makes us feel as if we are camping out next to a vast wetland. The music of the spring peepers plays through the night throughout the house, often starting overeagerly in the late afternoon. This manic symphony thrills us every year. It is the first sign of Spring for us. The quality of joyousness and the affirmation of life gladdens our souls. Going to sleep with that sound makes us remember what we so often forget, to give thanks to our Creator for His magnificent creatures.
Inspired by Carroll, one year we awaited the first dark, rainy warm night after a succession of warm days. In our rain gear, armed with flashlights we set out around 11PM to look for the march of the salamanders. We walked to the nearby pond. Nothing. We walked quite aways down a nearby dirt road that has run off but is not quite a vernal pond. We shone the flashlight this way and that. Nothing. We finally headed home disappointed and dejected and my husband started towards the front door when I let out a yelp. There in the doorway was a 6 inch spotted salamander in all its glory! We never found the march of the salamanders but we were greeted by one of these fantastic amphibians right at our front door!
This story, however, does not have a happy ending. In his epilogue to the “Swampwalker’s Journal,” David Carroll explains why it took him more than 7 years to complete this book. He writes that he became involved in saving some of the wetlands in his book and says sadly nearly all of his interventions have or will become “losing battles.” He describes the plight of the wetlands, bogs and fens as a “landscape of loss.” And he scorns our human selfishness as he writes how it “reveals explicitly the extent to which we think of ourselves as owning all living things, along with the very earth, air, and water in which they live, as if we possessed some divinely mandated dominion over all creation.” He warns: “As we will learn in time none of this belongs to us.” I read these words, knowing them to be true and I think of the soon-to-be-extinct bog turtle and other creatures with the same possible fate. I think of the spotted salamander who came to our door, as did Shelley, the snapping turtle who used to return to our drive way every year to lay her eggs. I think of the spring peepers whose joyous song heralds spring next door every year, and I fear for the future of them all.
Sitting in our living room, with all the little, dairy barn windows alive with falling flakes of snow, it is as if my husband and I were on a ship, floating on a sea of white. The living room in our converted dairy barn has the feeling of a ship cabin, and I think it most beautiful when the snow is falling.
The glass doors in the kitchen give us perfect view of the bird feeder, our television in all seasons. In winter we watch male cardinals, bright red in the stark white, feed and contend with the beautiful, bullying blue jays. And the more modest, gentle, tiny juncos and sparrows touch our hearts with their humility.
One winter, when the snow had covered the ground for a month or so and turned to solid ice, we watched, horrified, as squirrels clawed at the feeder and fought with one another for a chance to feed, making shrill cries of territoriality. The ground was too frozen for them to retrieve the nuts they had buried in the fall. They were fighting off starvation.
Waking up in the morning there is no need for a weather report as we see the snow piled high on the surrounding trees and see the sky through what used to be the hayloft door, now a cathedral window. The thermometer tells us how cold it is though we can feel the chill in the air. We gauge the depth of the snowfall by watching the squirrels running along the limbs of the trees, cleaning off the heavy snow. They seem friskiest just after a snowfall.
And if we are lucky, and the snow is deep enough, we get out our snow-shoes and climb up the hill out back to what we were told was once a Christian Indian burial ground. There are no markers left but the spot has the air of the sacred and it affords mountain views in winter. High on the hill overlooking the valley, it seems a perfect place for a burial ground. The snowfall makes it easier to walk the hill. In the summer the path is too full of saplings and underbrush to walk the “meadow.”
On our half of the meadow there is a squat fir tree which provides a great shelter for deer in a storm and the deer love the meadow. There are a few blown over trees. And as we snow-shoe we see all kinds of animal tracks which we attempt to identify.
Like many barns, ours was built near the road so there is some traffic noise. But in the meadow we are far removed from the road. When it snows, it is so beautiful in the quiet, looking at the animal tracks, and feeling the spirits in the graveyard. A secret, little piece of Paradise. And to stand there in the virgin white silence, and see the abstract patterns of the snow on the surrounding hundreds of trees, is a taste of the Divine.
“It is so interesting to see the marvelous evolution of complex matter from the singular consciousness of Spirit. How intricate it is, and yet so simple” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
All limited edition original photographs available in different sizes and