by Wendell Berry
Suppose we did our work
like the snow, quietly, quietly,
leaving nothing out.
There is so much to learn from winter. From the snow. Its quiet persistence and the way it accumulates where it may.
I've been reading the Wendell Berry poem for years, with admiration and a bit of envy. One of my goals these days is to write a short poem that says and means as much.
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”
- Joseph Campbell
"How one walks through the world, the endless small adjustments of balance, is affected by the shifting weights of beautiful things."
- Elaine Scarry
Walking through the snow, forging a path through fresh snow, especially, one is constantly adjusting one's balance. One's footing is uncertain, insecure, and yet, if you can find a certain rhythm, this helps. You learn about the properties of snow as you walk, for each snowfall has its own unique densities.
A winter walk is quite different from a summer one. There is often more solitude, and yet, because of the paths that have been trod and which the snow makes visible, one also feels accompanied. On sunny days, the reflections on the snow are quite blinding and I find myself trying not to squint. I want to be alone in winter, even more than I do in summer.
I love birch trees, especially in winter. The soft smoothness of their bark. In winter, they can really be seen. The black markings and spindly branches seem to speak, a type of calligraphy, or code.