These calloused men,
Bundled against the cold,
They walk on water,
Drop fishhooks into their souls,
Patiently fathom their depths,
In hopes of grappling with passions,
That lurk beneath the ice.
No birds sing on the winter solstice.
Our shortest day is not brightened,
Nor is our longest night heralded,
by the high-pitched voice of a winged enchanter.
The nights stretch so long,
they draw near enough to whisper to each other.
hushed amid these whispers, we go about our business,
knowing they threaten us with cold death,
even as they entrance us with the mystery of darkness.
Perhaps the birds are also hushed by these whispers.
Perhaps none dares speak too loudly, too joyously,
Lest they be struck down by the hand of cold.
Or perhaps they, too, know reverence for the dark.
But as the sun rises higher and higher,
Day by day,
The birds are emboldened,
One by one.
The first to challenge the cold with its song?
The bravest of the birds? The chickadee.
Each year, on some sunny January day,
A chickadee summons the courage to sing of the return of the light.
A David of fluff challenging the Goliath of frost.
For weeks, none dare join him.
Then, come February, the Blue Jays, in their police attire
Call out their metallic Kweedle, Kweedle, from the treetops.
Soon, they are followed by the cardinals,
Singing as bold and brash as their crimson plumage,
As though they were the ones to break the spell of silence.
Each winter, whether the days be frigid or fair,
Whether the ground be snow-blanketed or mud-bare,
These are our harbingers… not of spring’s arrival…
But that the giant of winter will be overcome, once again.
Together you say, “Let us explore this province of life.” So together you carve a path that wends through the land that has so enchanted you,not simply to pass through it, but to enjoy the terrain that walking the path reveals. And together you walk the path and share its beauties.
Then the storms come, the trees fall, and the way seems to be lost. But together you clear the path where you can, or choose to wend in new ways where obstacles persist. Or you allow the path to remain obscured, to become overgrown, until it is just a trace of memory.
So many memory traces, so much yet to explore on this path.