Sunday, January 30, 2011


O beautiful hour, masterful state, garden gone wild. You turn from the house and see, rushing toward you on the garden path, the goddess of happiness.

Franz Kafka, Zurau, 1917

You want stillness?

Out in the deep snow this morning I could hear the chickadee's call from 100 feet off. Flatline zero degrees. In a tamarack, one of the few in the valley, one I planted 35 years ago. 75 feet tall. The bird's busy signal of a call.

Listen even closer and hear the river barely bubble beneath too much ice.

Our snowshoe track we use every day has its simple trail leaving the back door and winding through the woodlot, hill & dale, and while up there we pick up another log or two from the cord of rock maple & beech and under each arm bring it home. The wood cache is midway and at the highest point, so it's almost downhill when returning with the firewood.

A neighbor caught us working and nearing home with the wood and asked what we were doing. We told her, melting smiles as we all talked. A very cold day. Snow banks between us.

The plumbing hasn't worked right in the house since last summer, but between us and a plumber friend we thought we had it licked. Always find a plumber that doesn't mind cobbing together a new trick, especially for a very old house. Old houses never sleep! However, for the moment, all the cobbing ain't doing the trick. And if it's coming from the well the well is way way under snow, but not really — I keep the well head available. Still it all looks way way under snow.

We stopped counting how many feet we've had from the sky.

Ten years ago we thought about a snowblower and that's as far as we got. Something about grabbing a shovel, and we own six shovels for just snow. I still own one I bought forty years ago when tools lasted forever. Now we don't even last forever.

We're shoveling a 200 foot driveway, and pathway to the back door. This doesn't count the other pathways, both porches, stairway, and all the roofs to move. One part of me says so-what, shutup, enough of this heroic stuff already, live silently as you have and stay at your work. The other part of me says ~ nah, life is good (even if it is bad), celebrate, and let the chips fall. Invite everyone in.

I'm happy to say the roof we installed last summer is a beautiful pal. Snow can't stay on it. And this is the winter snow is staying on steel roofs. When I was putting the steel roof down I noticed just how slick it was. Dangerous then, a service now.

There's plenty of firewood. Kokomo (Cutie Pie) is feeling better; if anyone is wondering why all the music on the Birdhouse I'm actually restraining myself. I could set on favorite tunes day and night. That's what you get working outdoors, building a sweat, coming back in and stripping off and drying an hour by the woodfire and listening to a song, or two. Even if nothing is playing but something is in your head. You want to share it. I add one more song. Clothes are dry, get back outdoors, it's waiting for you.

For close friends ~ Sweetheart had a dream a few nights ago that I found Janine herding cows on a fine grassy steppe high outside an Alpine village! Don't you love it. There is a long history of Sweetheart's dreams and Janine. She only told Janine.

We are making many booklets, too, like cookies. All these poets we love. Cookie-sheeted and on the kitchen counter by a warm lamp. If we love you, we print you, or we at least try to. Though if we haven't printed you it doesn't mean we don't love you.

Oh yeah, we shut the tv down in August. What we're saving (the crooks) we just paid for that steel roof.

Stay warm!

photo © bob arnold