Dad’s aluminum cane is covered with blue-and-white flowers. Its use around the house is no longer optional. I thought he might like a more “manly” or “classy” cane, and suggested we procure a genteel wood cane. “I don’t think so,” he declined. Later in the evening he explained, “In my own mind, a wooden cane embodies permanence, and I am not ready for this to be permanent.” I suddenly understood, and apologized, not having meant to suggest his permanent need, only the enjoyment of something refined. Thus esteemed, he acknowledged that he is not likely to turn back the clock and not need his cane. I admire his courage to look the future in the face, to stare hard at its reality. I admire his long fight for a flourishing life. His fighting spirit has not dimmed. He will win the prize—indeed, has already won.
While I don’t care for the cold of winter, I find that winter walking reveals unparalleled beauty despite the leafless trees, and brings unique pleasures and insights, such as those discussed in this poem. And winter mornings are quiet. So, as much as I prefer the warmer seasons, I still enjoy bundling up and heading to Rabbit Lane for pre-dawn winter walks. (For more discussion of winter walks in the snow, see the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog, Chapter 8: Tracks in the Snow post.)
I LEFT THE HOUSE
I left the house
to walk a long walk
through the uncertain silhouettes
of morning’s pre-dawn dim,
and found that
Heaven had graced Earth,
with a covering of snow,
soft on the hard, frozen earth,
pale gray in the lingering starlight.
On the farm road,
tire tracks sliced and sullied the snow,
leaving long, undulating ruts
I quickly chose the ease of the rut.
Then I found the tracks of
other travelers—mice, rabbits, a raccoon—
meandering, veering, crossing,
as necessary or desirable.
Then I, too, left the pre-established path,
and made my own way through the snow.
The frozen crust crunched and gave way
under the weight of my boots;
each step sent up a small crystalline cloud;
white snow caps clung to my toes;
my legs protested with burning fatigue at
the effort of resisting the rut.
The snow turned from gray to white with the fading of night,
tinged with the pink of impending sunrise.
In the undisturbed snow beside the rutted tracks,
the sun’s first rays revealed an infinity of microscopic prisms,
sparkling brief flashes of rainbow color.
In the distance behind,
the house waited patiently for my return.
–Wherever I am, I find that the road stretches both ahead and behind.–
From the airport lighthouse shine alternating beams of white and green light, ghostly sweeping columns in the crystalline air against the undersides of low-hanging clouds. Here, walking in this desert, I imagine a lighthouse perched on a craggy rock cliff, overlooking ocean waves beating themselves in ferocious crashes against the rock, and ships with trimmed sails rocking, taking on water, close to sinking, with frantic, frightened sailors looking to the light as to a savior, the only thing in the world they can cling to, trust in. Continue reading
–Never betray inspiration with hesitation.–
Sleepily down Church Road I walked, past an unmarked dirt lane traveled most often by farmers on tractors. Somehow I had tumbled out of bed and out the door. I would much rather have continued my slumber under warm covers. Crisp darkness and the ripe fragrance of dew upon cut hay greeted me as I stepped onto the covered porch. I could see only silhouettes in the lingering darkness: old trees planted by farmers perhaps a century ago; the Oquirrh mountain range; cattle chewing mechanically on coarse grass. Continue reading
Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road tells the story of a humble country dirt road, of its human history, of its natural beauty, and of its ability to bring insight, understanding, transformation, and healing to those who walk it. The book contains stories and poems, music and nature observations that will amuse and inspire. Rabbit Lane helps us to slow down and pay attention to the beauty around us and within us. The prefatory poem, Silent Spring, honors the vision and hope of Rachel Carson, author of the 1962 classic book by the same name, for a world filled with the music and beauty of nature. Enjoy each of the many chapters, stories, poems, and songs as you walk with me on Rabbit Lane.
not silent quite.
the growing hum
Roger Evans Baker is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road. The non-fiction book is available for Kindle (full color) and in print (black-and-white) at Amazon. Rose Gluck Reviews recently reviewed Rabbit Lane in Words and Pictures.