the earth turning to darkness

When I woke this morning, I wondered why my bedroom was so bright — at just after six a.m. Snow! Oh, the capricious weather. Earlier in the week, we drove home from dinner with friends in mild rain, frogs leaping out of our headlights. But overnight it snowed and this morning I went outside to see the world made mysterious. I could hear the high sound of birds — golden-crowned kinglets, I think, and probably the same little cloud I saw yesterday in the firs by the deck — and I thought of owls, the one which flew low over our car the other night, in rain, but now probably waking for good hunting.

P1100958And now, later, I also think of John Haines, the Alaska poet (1924-2011) who wrote as convincingly of winter as anyone dead or alive. Whose memoir, The Stars, the Snow, the Fire: Twenty-five Years in the Northern Wilderness I bought as soon as it was published in 1989 and loved every word. Who wrote about owls —

at dusk from the island in the river, and it’s not too cold, I’ll wait for the moon to rise, then take wing and glide to meet him. We will not speak, but hooded against the frost soar above the alder flats, searching with tawny eyes. And then we’ll sit in the shadowy spruce and pick the bones of careless mice, while the long moon drifts toward Asia and the river mutters in its icy bed. And when the morning climbs the limbs we’ll part without a sound, fulfilled, floating homeward as the cold world awakens.

The light has shifted from the brilliance and mystery of this morning to something cold and brittle. And cold! Just  now I put on boots and went out to see the sun beginning to slide behind small hill between us and Georgia Strait; it glowed as pink and gold as new fire. Late dawn, early sunset: we are sliding towards the solstice and today it feels very near.


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