Restless in the Grip of Winter

     On windy days, when the sky is full of restless clouds, a dark bruise crowns the line of pines and winter bare branches that mark the shore. A purple watercolour blush, it bleeds up into an endless firmament where the cold gusts and driven clouds devour it whole.

     It would be easy to believe that January and February are only made of driven snow and biting winds if winter did not throw us a bone of a sunny day here while the earth sleeps.  

     The rare sun in a cornflower blue sky festooned with puffs of giant clouds that swim through the air like white vaporous whales is brilliant. The light of sun and sky and snow dazzles so that the eye can weep tears of joy or discomfort.

     Those days never last. What dawns bright is shaded by evening. Over night Old Man Winter howls around the house shaking the foundation and scratching at the walls with tree branches, ice stiff and brittle. Often the new day finds another layer of white covering the fields and trees.

     Down on the shore the waves continue their ceaseless motion, building up layer upon layer of ice. The spray rises in the air, misting fingers of beach tossed driftwood and creating bridges that reach far out into the lake. Round floes bob up and down in the surf, concave saucers formed by the motion of the water and fickle heat of a winter sun.

     Against the skies of blue grey, black vees describe the geometry of flight. The croaks of jays and the peeps of chickadees are hushed by a flash of the hunting hawk’s red tail feathers. Only the mourning doves call soft and low in the cold winter light.

 

Symphony

The Guelder Rose is green now in the final month of summer. The wind has swept up the blossoms and scattered them away like delicate flakes of summer snow. There beneath the Guelder’s green boughs, a small form lays quiet and still. Sodden and dark from the morning rain, the first hint of colour is muddied on the breast. The head reclines, one eye hidden, the other open to the sky. The gelid orb has frosted over a pale imitation of a ripening blueberry and a sudden glint of movement creates a startling illusion of life. Closer inspection reveals an ant making its way along the edge of the convex curve of that soft jewel.

 

The wind rustles the trees mimicking the patter of rain as the leaves brush against each other in the dark. The moonlight spreads across the night sky rippling the dark like sunlight on water. It leaks through the depths to find the hidden world below. The clouds are islands floating free overhead, the bottoms dark and the tops awash in platinum halos.

The rain and the insects have done their work, emptying out the fallen. The blueberry frost has been replaced by the vacuum of a blank socket stark against the white of bone. The delicate spine articulates a gentle curve of ivory jewels cradled in the soft bower of discarded feathers.

 

The terns glide across the surface and then hang over the water watching the waves below. Hurtling down they disappear beneath the green and then rise up, orange beaks full of flashing opalescent scales. A rust and green length of dead carp kisses the shore. The round hollow above the gill fills with the wash and weeps Erie’s tears as clasped in her bosom it gently rocks to an eternal sleep. Scatterings of diamond fossils, frozen in stone, line the path between here and there.

 

The waves hurry on towards the shore, cresting above the plane animating the grey expanse. Breaking on the rim, they breathe, expand and begin anew. Sinking into the sand, flowing back into the rhythm, forward under the cliff side and up into the air they change yet remain the same.