Biography Writing Teaching Appearances  

On the Plains, January 2010

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A close-up (below) of snow:  glittering jewels of crystals. I never played in this stuff during my childhood.  The closest comparison I have is the ocean sand that stuck to my ankles, that found itself in elbow creases and between toes.  Snow was not in my experience until adulthood and this winter, especially, I am having a good share of it.  Here in the Great Plains sand does exist but right now it is under translucent jeweled layers of cold.  


A good part of the rose bush (the one I photographed in a previous entry) in our front yard is buried.  The faded but hardy petaled bloom is nowhere to be found.  We've had over a foot of snow since my last entry and the temperatures continue to remain below freezing.  

rose bush.jpg

This geographic area feels still, like being inside a snow globe:  the earth and those in it forever contained.  When I am outside removing the snow from the walkways, the drive, the sound of my shovel against the pavement feels insolent--shattering the rules of winter silence. No loud dancing, festive sounds here but more of a monasterial contemplative air.  So I take intermittent breaks, take pictures, observe the plants in-between my rude snow shoveling. I imagine what it must be like in other parts of the world right now where it is summer and the people are barefoot, their bodies dancing in steamy fecund gardens, while I photograph the Milkweed (below).  Its pods once softly full with cotton-like filaments that attracted red and orange-winged Monarchs, now hang literally frozen from dead stems. The plant and crown are alive, but what you see here is dead.  

milkweed in winter.jpg

The sideoats grama (below) is also caught in a kind of time warp or embalmed state.  I am amazed when I see pictures of this same spot just a few months ago--knowing that by March, April, definitely May--all of this white and cold will transform into buds, green, blooms, dark earth opening.  Perhaps I once again write about this because I continue to marvel at the way this area of the world behaves, negotiates the seasons, even welcomes and seems so comfortable with these excessive changes in temperature. There is a beauty to this funereal viewing.  

sideoats gramma prairie grass.jpg

Below are two pictures of the same plant this past October and now:

spring show.jpg

winter show.jpg

Some of these plants will not return.  They are dead or will eventually die, their seeds taking up the places they have left behind.  I keep returning to the poet H.D., this time to her poem, 

"Wash of Cold River"  

Wash of cold river
in a glacial land,
Ionian water,
chill, snow-ribbed sand,
drift of rare flowers,
clear, with delicate shell-
like leaf enclosing
frozen lily-leaf, camellia texture,
colder than a rose;

that keeps the breath
of the north-wind--
these and none other;

intimate thoughts and kind
reach out to share 
the treasure of my mind,
intimate hands and dear
drawn garden-ward and sea-ward
all the sheer rapture
that I would take 
to mould a clear
and frigid statue;

rare, of pure texture,
beautiful space and line,
marble to grace
your inaccessible shrine.  

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