I recall reading a poem where the poet wistfully stated that someday perhaps we could again contemplate falling snow in the manner of Japanese poets of yore, and not be distracted by all our modern concerns about road conditions and whether we remembered to put on snow tires, and what we will do if school is cancelled. For there is something to be said for the beauty of falling snow, especially the first flakes, falling when the final leaves are still on the trees.
Sadly, I find I can’t sit back and contemplate much. While the kale in the garden is improved by frost, the celery can’t withstand much freezing, and I have a good crop.
But how am I to find time for the celery, when my wife isn’t too happy about my great harvest of hot peppers, gathered last week after our first freeze and still scattered about her kitchen?
And how am I to find time for peppers with a business to run? Every day I write a list, but emergencies emerge, especially when you run a Childcare. Early childhood is actually one long emergency, as children are emerging into a world full of dangers and disasters. So that which is on my list doesn’t get done until it itself becomes an emergency. For example, I should check out the wood stoves when weather is warm, but I never get around to it until we start our first fire and the house fills with smoke. Then I have to frantically replace a stove pipe (40 years old and crumbling with corrosion) and sweep a chimney. Who has time to string up peppers?
The good side is that little children at our Childcare get to see a man work. Most Childcares give children the impression men evaporate at sunrise and materialize at sunset. At my place they get to feel the stiff wire bristles of a chimney brush, and see black flakes of creosote, and learn smoke can condense like steam can, and see me huff about with a long ladder over my shoulder, and understand men do work.
The bad part is that at my advanced age I’m not suppose to be huffing and puffing about. I’m suppose to wear a white suit and give orders like a fellow who owns a plantation.
How am I suppose to wear a white suit if I’m cleaning chimneys? Soot would spoil the fabric. As would dirt from the garden, and sap and sawdust from lugging firewood would be just as bad. About the only good thing about snow is that I could wear a white suit in it and not get it dirty, but white linen is not made for cold climates and shoveling snow.
I actually feel a bit like a rat in a wheel, and have to steal time to write, but when my wife sees me sneaking off to my word processor she sometimes gives me the feeling that a man’s main aim in life is to avoid chores, whereupon I tell her a woman’s main aim in life is to create them.
Then our eyes meet, and we know it is time for a break. With a three day weekend coming up, we need a day at the beach. So let’s check the forecast.
For those of you who like less precise temperatures, 16º Fahrenheit equals -9º Celsius. Winds will be from the north, gusting to thirty mph.
We will have the beach all to ourselves! Yippie!
Last spring I watched the final flakes falling
With the petals of an apple tree’s blooms
And wondered if I’d see the appalling,
Appealing white again. For our dooms
Are hidden from us. We can never guess
If tomorrow will come. In my mad case
It seems that the answer’s definitely, “yes.”
God’s willing I run a lap of the race
And feel snow in my face. On I will roam
With my beachcomber’s pension,with wild skies
and thudding surf a most beautiful poem
Even if I never ink the words that my eyes
See written by cirrus and hear in surf’s sighs.
The Timeless is peeking through time’s thin disguise.