Friday, December 25, 2009

A Blizzard for Christmas

Here at our little place out in the country this Christmas Morning our world is covered over with approximately a foot of snow. The news people kept repeating yesterday that this was the first time ever that a "blizzard warning" had been issued for this part of Oklahoma and there was much talk about traffic hazards and street closings and church services being cancelled and story after story on the news about travelers stuck at airports with no hope of getting to their destinations on time for Christmas; but this morning I have not yet turned on anything electronic except this computer and have heard no bad news and as I look out my window everything is quiet and peaceful and beautiful with not even a dog track to disturb the beautiful scenery. Looking out over all the beauty I am reminded of sitting in Mrs. Blassingame’s American Literature Class back at Ole HHS and the time we studied a poem called The First Snowfall by James Russell Lowell. I don’t remember it all but it opened with line something like:
The snow had begun in the gloaming
And busily all through the night
Has been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white
And that is just what happened here last night. We had planned as usual to have the kids and grandkids and now great-grandkids over to celebrate Christmas with thoughts of Jesus Birth, a good meal, and opening of presents, but no one could come due to the bad traveling conditions so Peggy and I had our own Christmas time together and that was Good.
I also remembered another line in Russell’s poem in which he sees in his mind the snow covering a grave in "Sweet Auburn". I don’t know if it snowed in Hodgen last night but I too am reminded of where Dad and Mother and my sister Myrna are buried and this is the first Christmas that I have had that I don’t have my Mother to share the holidays with..
I remember too another poem we studied in HHS. It was "Snow Bound" by John Greenleaf Whittier. Whittier like Russell describes a big snowfall and all the things that happen at his family’s farm. It was also a beautiful story. And then there is what is my most favorite poem I suppose about winter. It may very well be your favorite also. It is "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. I think I can remember most of it.
Whose woods these are I think I know
His house is in the village though
And he will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow
My little horse must thing it queer
Stopping without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The coldest evening of the year
He gives his harness bells a shake
As if to ask if there is some mistake
The only other sound is the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake
The woods are lovely dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep
I’m sure I botched a line or two but after all that was 50 years ago.
Well, I better go find the snow shovel and see if I can clear a path out to the road. I don’t think the Tulsa World was delivered today but I best go check just in case.
Merry Christmas to all of you.


At December 25, 2009 at 9:44 AM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

Very nice, Colin! You're so 'poetic'. I wish I had some of your memory cells. I can hardly remember that Mrs. Blassingame taught English, let alone any poems that I might have 'studied' back then. I AM impressed!

As I was coming up to your first reference, however, I was expecting Robert Frost's poem about snow (my favorite Frost poem). You didn't disappoint me, though, you saved the best for last. Thanks.

But, come on, didn't REALLY remember all of those lines from memory, did you? If so, then I KNOW I need to see a doctor.

Thanks for a wonderful observation this was like being there. Merry Christmas!

At December 25, 2009 at 10:51 AM , Blogger colin said...

Yes Chuck, I wrote it from memory, but don't be too impressed; I've forgotten much more than I remember. We regulary watch "Are you Smarter than a 5th grader". and it is amazing how much we forget. I'm convinced that they study a lot of things now that we didn't back at West Side. Last night they had a question about 3rd. Grade Geometry. Third Grade Geometry? Shoot I never heard of Geometry until we got to Mr. Woolbright in High School and Yes I didn't know the answer. ( I think Peggy did get right though)

At December 25, 2009 at 12:41 PM , Blogger Kathy Bain Dunn said...

Colin, I looked up the Russell poem, and I am amazed how 37 years of living since I first read it have changed its meaning to me. I saw several things that would have made this poem meaningful to you.

Title: The First Snow-Fall
Author: James Russell Lowell

The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
Came Chanticleer's muffled crow,
The stiff rails softened to swan's-down,
And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window
The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snowbirds,
Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
Saying, 'Father, who makes it snow?'
And I told of the good All-father
Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snow-fall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o'er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar that renewed our woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
'The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall!'

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her:
And she, kissing back, could not know
That _my_ kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow.

At December 25, 2009 at 2:37 PM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

Thanks, Colin. Your blog reminded me of a Christmas some 30 plus years ago in Heavener. We got about 15 inches of snow during the night and it all fell without a breath of wind. On Christmas morning I was amazed to see the snow stacked on the telephone and power lines to a depth of nearly a foot but only about a half-inch wide. I had never seen such a thing before and I never have since. The whole town was totally quiet and there were no vehicles moving anywhere. Jessie and I had two children then and we built a snow-woman over six feet tall. (We did a snow-woman so we could use her ankle-length skirt as a stable base.) Since then we have more snow here in Tennessee and all three children and I have built bigger and better snow sculptures (a dragon some thirty feet long, a dog nearly five feet tall, and many others) but never have we had such a stillness in which to work.

At December 25, 2009 at 5:15 PM , Blogger colin said...

Thanks Kathy, reading the whole poem again stirred some emotions in me as you imagined that they would.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home