Monday, December 21, 2009


It is the winter Solstice - shortest day of the year, longest night. This is a summer picture of light on my sunroom floor. It will be months before the sun again shines at an angle which gives me these kind of shadows, but from this day forward, we begin tilting towards the light. Today the sun rose at 8:24 a.m. and set at 4:30 p.m. which means 8 hours and 6 minutes of day, 15 hours and 54 minutes of night. No wonder I am searching my files, looking for pictures of light, no wonder the little stone angel in my backyard is facing the east and warming a little bird in her hands. She is actually missing one wing and a halo, so she is kind of stuck here, with the rest of us, watching shadows change, doing mental math with minutes of sunlight. We have only a little fresh snow on the ground. Until recently it has been too cold for snow, but today, at noon, the sun was shining at just the right angle to make the new flakes sparkle. We look for light where we can find it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Forty Below Zero

"A hell of a night for a walk," the man I meet on the sidewalk says. It is dark and cold and we are both covered in so many layers of clothing that we would not know each other, even if we had met before, which we probably have. Both of us are walking fast, fast enough to make our own heat. The stars are crisp and the snow is, too. When winter like this sets in, I measure the temperature by the kind of squeak beneath my feet. It is very squeaky tonight. The closest I can come to taking a picture of cold like this, is the frost on my front windows. Still, I am walking each night, just me and the man who thinks it is hellish. Which it could be, were it not for the infinite sky - Orion striding southward, the moon a waning crescent, the crunch of my feet carrying me quickly through all this darkness. As I walk, a children's poem by Oliver Herford, sings in my head and I speak it out loud, the words muffled by my scarf:

I heard a bird sing
in the dark of December,
a magical thing
and sweet to remember.
We are nearer to spring
than we were in September,
I heard a bird sing
in the dark of December.

Later, in the night, sleeping, I dream of that bird - a shadow of a bird, really, perched on the bare branches of one of the trees I walk beneath each night. It is cold, but he is singing and I am walking. I cannot hear his song, my ears are covered, but his beak is open, cloudy puffs of song float from it, and I know he is singing, "WE ARE NEARER TO SPRING THAN WE WERE IN SEPTEMBER. . . "

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just Enough Snow

It is winter now, just enough snow to brighten the darkness. It is cold enough for boots and scarves and cold enough for the ice on the outdoor rink to be frozen solid. Last night, from two blocks away, I heard the skates and hockey pucks - the sound sharpened by the night air. The sound of Winnipeg in winter. The sun rises is so late now that I usually miss it, but some days, when I am lucky, I leave for home early enough to catch it setting, or at least to try. I used to be able to walk each morning facing the sunrise, each evening the sunset - such a wonderful way to begin and end each day. I miss it so much. Now I drive to and from school, not as wonderful, but I am not alone - wire guy Buddha is always with me, meditating on my steering column. And the sky is always there, too. I just have to look a little harder.

Summer View From My Kitchen Window

Summer View From My Kitchen Window
I am already more than a week into my summer holidays and just beginning to settle into this greenest of seasons - so glad to be at home with my windows and my light. I am just learning how to post these blogs, spending too much time in front of my computer, not enough time with the sky.  The morning began with thunder - an hour of pouring rain and thunder!!  Long after sunrise, the sky was still dark and ominous, but then suddenly the sun broke through. I put on my garden shoes, grabbed my camera, and went out to the flowers . . .   

After the Rain

After the Rain
After all that wild weather, the day lily leaves were covered with such quiet raindrops . . . 

After the Rain

After the Rain
One side of my yard is lined with leafy peonies - the grandmother of all flowers - pink, white, deep, deep red.  I have been deadheading the flowers all week long, but this one, just opening, survived the storm. I have lived in my house for nearly twenty years; these peonies were here long before I moved in and with any luck will be here long after I am gone.