Monday, January 28, 2008


Desert Places

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it--it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less--
A blanket whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars--on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert spaces.

Robert Frost

Winter is a struggle for me. It is the time of year when it is easiest to dwell upon my own desert spaces within me. Spring, summer, fall all bring with them opportunities to fill myself in the joy and beauty of nature. But when winter comes and that blankness seems to fall across the land, it also falls in me.

I do my best to keep it at bay. I have my little interests and my daily escapes, into books, or handiwork, or entertaining friends. But the little shocks of horror that come when I glimpse the stretches of expressionless blankness come more frequently in winter. The silences that in spring are drowned in rushing streams and in summer are eclipsed by the buzz of the locust and in fall are masked by the crunching of leaves underfoot are allowed to ring in the silence of falling snow. And the emptiness that is filled in spring with new green grass and in summer with riots of flowers and in fall with the blaze of the turning leaves is in winter echoed everywhere by white blank snow and a grey blank sky.

But although it is harder in winter to resist the desert places, it is not impossible. It is just necessary to look harder for the beauty to escape them. One morning, I went out after a snowfall, and I expected a world of blank whiteness. What I found instead was a world of color just awaiting my eyes, should I trouble to see. And I saw the snow at dawn was clear blue, not white. And the vibrant red of the crabapples and the solid, reassuring brown of the branches were all willing to be seen.


lizardrinking said...

I love this photo. It is striking, and your eye and heart have captured it well.

Wade said...

i agree with rose. the poem, your words, the photo... perfect.

i like standing in snow silence. if i am very still, i can feel Spring poised just below the surface, waiting to break free.

anglophile said...

That is a poem in itself, Wade. Today the snow is melting and it reminds me that if I just wait, I soon will see the tips of crocuses breaking through the soil. If I am patient enough.