This I Will Savor

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Malign these days as you will, but I know how fondly I will think on them when the thermometer turns upside down.

When we are 64 days into summer instead of winter, in those dogs days not fit for man or beast…I will think about yesterday.

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Yesterday at 8 a.m. as the snow fell through the quiet treetops, and the only sounds in the woods were two sets of footsteps and an occasional chickadee marking time.

Yesterday, as we followed deer tracks through the filigree of white lace branches…

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…and back along the main trail in such delicate disguise.

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Yesterday, when the pale gray sky offered little contrast, the woods no color, save for the loyal grasp of beech leaves.

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But in evidence everywhere, god’s architecture, her sacred comings and goings laid bare.

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So, soon the verdant skyline, I know…but I will savor this vista every moment until then, with no apology or second thought.


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Photos ©2015, Jen Payne

Woods in Winter

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Woods in Winter
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

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O’er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

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Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

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Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river’s gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater’s iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

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Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

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But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

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Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.

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Photos ©2014, Jen Payne

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Winter’s Here!

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“Now is the solstice of the year,
winter is the glad song that you hear.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Have the lads up ready in a line.

Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Join together beneath the mistletoe.
by the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.

Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Praise be to the distant sister sun,
joyful as the silver planets run.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out those bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Ring on, ring out.
Ring on, ring out.”

Ring Out, Solstice Bells, Jethro Tull

IMAGE: Winter (I) – Mikalojus Ciurlionis, 1907

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A Winter Walk

The path never changes. Its mood always does.

Evidence of many travelers.

Such is the way of water.

Ice age.

A winding path.

With blue as contrasting color.

A Hobbit trail.

At the west side of the pond.

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©2013, Jen Payne

*the frost performs its secret ministry

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

— Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Frost at Midnight

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Photo ©2011, Jen Payne.

– Read all of Frost at Midnight here.

Joyful Solstice!

“The sun at length rises through the distant woods, as if with the faint clashing, swinging sound of cymbals, melting the air with his beams, and with such rapid steps the morning travels, that already his rays are gilding the distant western mountains. Meanwhile we step hastily along through the powdery snow, warmed by an inward heat, enjoying an Indian summer still, in the increased glow of thought and feeling. Probably if our lives were more conformed to nature, we should not need to defend ourselves against her heats and colds, but find her our constant nurse and friend, as do plants and quadrupeds. If our bodies were fed with pure and simple elements, and not with a stimulating and heating diet, they would afford no more pasture for cold than a leafless twig, but thrive like the trees, which find even winter genial to their expansion.”

– Henry David Thoreau, A Winter Walk

Wishing You a Joyful Solstice!

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– To read Thoreau’s complete essay, A Winter Walk, click here.