After a lifetime of winter (the Adirondack mountains, Vermont, Minnesota) I can do without -40 windchills, insta-frozen nose hairs, ice and the mummification required to step onto the front steps with shovel in hand, but I could never do without the change of seasons. Spring, summer, fall, winter: I don’t know how life is experienced by people who live in places where nothing much changes, weatherwise. I only know what it feels like to wake up and step outside and smell the air and look at the sky and listen to ice melting or birds singing or wind in the leaves, to see that first maple leaf flutter red to the ground in the fall or that first pussy willow budding in the spring, and how it hurts my heart. Not hurts, exactly, but that’s part of it. Stretches my heart. Fills my heart. Reminds me that time is turning, for all of us —In the darkness of the barn their woolly backs were full of light gathered on summer pastures–and how nothing ever really goes away. Every summer is held deep in the heart of every winter.
Sheep in the Winter Night, by Tom Hennen
Inside the barn the sheep were standing, pushed close to one
another. Some were dozing, some had eyes wide open listening
in the dark. Some had no doubt heard of wolves. They looked
weary with all the burdens they had to carry, like being thought
of as stupid and cowardly, disliked by cowboys for the way they
eat grass about an inch into the dirt, the silly look they have
just after shearing, of being one of the symbols of the Christian
religion. In the darkness of the barn their woolly backs were
full of light gathered on summer pastures. Above them their
white breath was suspended, while far off in the pine woods,
night was deep in silence. The owl and rabbit were wondering,
along with the trees, if the air would soon fill with snowflakes,
but the power that moves through the world and makes our
hair stand on end was keeping the answer to itself.
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