Yesterday it was fifty degrees on the back side of the house where the sun hits the thermometer. I sat outside on the steps with my tea, flanked by big plow and shovel piles. Now big wet flakes are coming down and it looks like it’s going to be a day full of weather with the temperature dropping. I think I’ll stay put, watch the snow piles grow.
I like winter fine. It’s why I live up here. But lately I’m feeling hemmed in by those plow piles, by the ice on the driveway, by things I need to do piling up on the desk. It could be a productive day. The measurements I’ve heard about the gathering snow range from four inches to over ten inches. By upstate standards, that’s pretty average. There’s about a foot of work piled on my desk: two mss in progress plus research, plus bookkeeping, etc. etc. As always, there’s nothing for it but to get to work.
Meanwhile, an old poem from one of the Three Poets chapbooks:
MARCH BETRAYAL IN THE ADIRONDACKS
February melts away. The first
bird to sing of it is chickadee.
The radio guy says a robin’s in
someone’s backyard, but that’s
south of here by some.
The little melt revives the bees, beavers and maples.
Tempted with the risen sun,
I feel the false sense of warmth.
A dark shirt will warm my back
on the way to the mail at noon. But night
brings white ice. I feel my bones,
not my sap.
My sister calls from Maine to say
crocus are up. All I see
is the patch of brown over
the septic. Can’t ski
anymore, can’t rake either.
The shovels wait, knowing, by each door.
means deceit. When I crave
to bask, to flutter, to hatch, to fly,
it snows again on top of ice.
The pulse slows to crawl and
strives to race like a bad dream,
and again it snows on top of snow, on top of ice.
March is the torture of hope.
To the frozen heart the open cell
door leads to the waiting arms of the jailer.
Mary Sanders Shartle
(from Glacial Erratica: Three Poets on the Adirondacks, Part 2 by Elaine Handley, Marilyn McCabe and Mary Sanders Shartle)