A Mind of Winter

Every year that we get an early snow, this happens: I get low. I feel robbed. Fall is not finished. The Tamarack are still flaxen. The mornings are still bearable without a down parka and boots. I can still take brisk walks on terra firma. The lakes are still fluid and I am too.

And then Mother Nature decides to go as Snow for Halloween. My kids jump with glee and beg me to take them up the ski mountain for their first snowball fight. And I do. But the smile on my face is more the smile of someone looking at a good friend who has to leave town for better work. You know they have to go, but you love them. You will miss them. You are better for having them around. Today was my 18th time feeling this way. Wallace Stevens got it better than I ever could in his poem, “The Snowman.” Every year I re-read his poem, and every year he reminds me that there is much to receive in the “nothingness” of winter. The empty is full.

The Snowman

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, City Hits, Little Hymns to Montana, My Posts

10 Responses to A Mind of Winter

  1. wow! this poem always makes me shiver…and the photos are an excellent complement…bravo! RT

    • lauramunson

      I know. Me too. I don’t think I understood it until my first winter in Montana. Now I do. There is abundance where we least expect it. It’s the expecting that gets in our way. Glad you liked the resource list and thanks for stopping by! yrs. Laura

  2. I didn’t actually know that Wallace Stevens wrote poetry. I love the poem. Winter is a season that I truly miss! Thanks Laura, for the poem and the photos.

  3. Ellen Liauw

    See I have the opposite problem. We are about to go into Summer… I love spring but every few days the heat starts to rise before I’m ready. I know how hot and uncomfortable Summer gets and I start to dread it early. I don’t know what a hard winter is like but I know what an oppressively hot summer is like. I have the same fears… no more walks during the day, driving/walking anywhere is horrible, not being able to sleep at night because the Southerly refuses to blow the heat away, waking in the morning groggy realising that the temperature did not drop in the night and we have another stinker on the way. I think we both dislike extremes. The extremes of a long cold winter for you and the extremes of a long hot summer for me.
    I like reading your posts, you are on the other side of the planet, a lifetime away but I read your thoughts and I can see a shared humanity. I don’t know if it is a female thing, a mother thing or maybe reading your posts reminds me that kindness, creativity, thought and reflection exist. Living in a status/appearance obsessed capital city can make it difficult to connect with others on a human level. People are so afraid to show weakness or honesty, reading your work makes me feel better. :)

    • lauramunson

      My dad always said that people are the same everywhere and I believe he was right. May you have much shade this summer, Ellen! yrs. Laura

  4. That does suck. Does it make you feel any better to know I’m sweating like crazy and cursing because I had to turn on the gd AC! I want fall – yet have 75 degree weather and outrageous humidity. My hair is huge.

    • lauramunson

      Luckily the 80′s are back in so your hair should be happy even though you’re not. In Missoula at Festival of the Book. Writerly Woodstock. ox Laura

  5. Laura, although we haven’t had snow yet in my part of New England, I still know how you feel. It’s a “leaving time” here on the pond, although I’ve been lucky to have some visitors stop by on their way to someplace else. I adore the Wallace Stevens poem, and your photos are beautiful with it. I hadn’t read the poem before, and I’m so glad you were the one to bring it to my attention. I’ve been stuck on a Yeats poem: “The Wild Swans at Coole,” and I just wrote about it over on my blog.

    Here’s an idea: let’s meet for some virtual coffee over the snow this winter. How about it?

  6. Laura, are you taking all these photos? If so, have you ever thought about photoJOURNALISM? Great shots!
    I’m a summer girl – and I am still hanging on to the 70 temps.

    • lauramunson

      Hi, Stephanie. I love to take photos, but have no training. It’s just something I love. Am easy on myself about it because my writing is such my passion. You are very nice to mention it though. The visual is very important to me. yrs. Laura

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