Baron Wormser on Snow.

If there is such a thing as a mutable eternity, it is snow falling in the woods.  I am thinking of a windless, steady plummeting.  Nothing is moving except for snowflakes.  You can hear the snow faintly ticking on the pine needle branches.  You can hear it descending–a soft sift of air….Every surface receives the snow in its way.  A large, fallen curled maple leaf collects the snow in its center.  A boulder’s stored heat resists the snow at first, then its surface turns wet as if it were raining, and then, with un-boulderlike delicacy, a thin frizz accumulates.  On top of the garden gate a fragile white skein begins to perch.  Little, almost derby-like hats grow on the garden fence posts.  The mown grass around the house fills in gradually.  The stiff, frozen blades seem like little heights.  Then the snow, as it mounts, receives itself.  Another landscape is created, and for months we live in that landscape.

We don’t live in the woods, but close enough.  It’s the silence, how the snow muffles everything, except for itself–soft sift of air— 

And then, once the snow has stopped & the cleanup completed, the cold clobbers you day after day, and that landscape is like a taunt, until it seems as though you’ll never be warm again. 

 It’s only January 6, and yet we’ve already had more snow than we had all last winter.  Can you tell I’m ready for spring?

Living Deliberately.

I’m reading Baron Wormser’s (former poet laureate of Maine) memoir (I guess strictly speaking it’s a memoir, though it’s not so narrowly me-me-me), The Road Washes Out in Spring, which is about the 20-odd years he lived with his family in the woods in Maine without electricity, running water, or any modern conveniences whatsoever. 

(It’s also when he began writing poetry.  Perhaps there’s a correlation, but he points out that he happened to have a few days alone when his wife took their 2 kids for a family visit, so he tried his hand at writing poems, and it turned out that he had something to say.) 

I’m enjoying it quite a bit, though it meanders, so my attention wanders, and I think what I’d really like to have on hand is a book of his poems.  Also, while he explains the appeal of roughing it very well, and is also quite open about how difficult it is, and his reasons for living this way are refreshingly non-polemic–well, I’m having flashbacks to my first winter in my house (the one I finally managed to unload this summer so I could move to these bucolic hills).

 From the ides of January till the ides of April that year, I had no running water.  I did have heat, which is the only thing that kept me sane–no running water means no water–no hot water, no cold water, no toilet, no shower, nothing.  That was bad enough.  But can you imagine waking up every frigid Maine winter morning and having to stoke the fires, before you can do anything else?  And having to use an outhouse in sub-zero temps, in the dark??  (He mentions early on that this is always the detail that is the dealbreaker.) 

 They live elsewhere in Maine now, and I’m pretty sure, wherever it is, they have toilets.