Category Archives: Poem

March Snow

Let me write about snow before it melts away with the coming of spring.

Sled on a snowy day, Huntley Illinois

Sled on a snowy day in Huntley, Illinois

I like snow!  I’m not a golfer but I spent a good part of of my childhood at the Northfield Golf Club because it had the nearest sledding hill.  My friend, Amy, and I would drag our sleds or snow saucers over to the golf course hill, just east of Prairie Street in Northfield, Minnesota.  Covered in boots, snowpants, parkas, mittens, and ski masks, we immediately hit the slope as if it was our job to smooth the entire hill into a cohesive, slippery mass.  We carefully walked up the same part of the hill each time so as to preserve the best runs.  Other children came and went, but we were the most devoted sledders, often staying till after dark.

The owners of the golf course put up with us, even when we tromped into the club house to use the restroom.  I remember coming out of a stall with my ski mask on as a startled woman said, “Oh, honey, the little boy’s room is across the hall.”  I must have looked more like an ice-encrusted abominable snowman than a little girl!

Even as an adult, I am always on the lookout for a good hill.  When our children were little, we had a slope behind our house that we enjoyed in winter.  It was nothing, though, compared to what one Minnesota family did in their backyard!  They engineered their own snow slide as if it was a winter water park.  I understand why people in D.C. recently defied the ban on sledding on Capitol Hill.  It’s a hill and it has snow.  What else is it for?

Some of us like the cold, white stuff we get for a few months of the year.  Here’s Robert Frost’s appreciation of snowflakes raining on his head:


The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given me heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.

Winter walk

Winter walk

Yes, the fresh, sparkly snow can shine through our shadows of glumness.  When I start dwelling on the blooper reel of my life, ruing, to use Frost’s word, all my dumb mistakes, I need to reboot.  Snow does that.  It offers a clean slate and a shot at redemption, as Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) wrote in these stanzas of her poem, March Snow:

When winter dies, low at the sweet spring’s feet

Let him be mantled in a clean, white sheet.

Let the old life be covered by the new:

The old past life so full of sad mistakes,

Let it be wholly hidden from the view

By deeds as white and silent as snow-flakes.

Ere this earth life melts in the eternal Spring

Let the white mantle of repentance fling

Soft drapery about it, fold on fold,

Even as the new snow covers up the old.

The end of winter used to be considered the start of the new year in some cultures.  Hibernation is over.  New life begins!  It makes sense.  As for me, until the snow is all gone, I’m going to get out there and enjoy it.

Good skiing weather

Good skiing weather

The Bird That Hit the Window

I gave the bird some water in hopes it would recover.


Bird half conscious on the deck,

Hit a window.  Broke its neck?

No!  It moves and stands alone.

I take a photo with my phone,

Send it to my daughter Emily.

She’s the birder in the family.

Hi, sweetie, think it’s Sparrow?

“No, Mom, beak’s too narrow.”

Pipit has a narrow bill.

“But it has a slimmer build.”

I see brown spots on its neck.

“Cannot tell from your pic.”

Warbler, Finch, Nuthatch, Thrasher?

Junco, Creeper, Chat, Gnatcatcher?

So many bird names I could blurt,

But she must get back to work.

After many guesses offered glibly,

I go consult the book of Sibley.

Not one to fret about proper names for each plant and animal I see, I nonetheless find that it helps me pay attention to details when I use The Sibley Book of Birds or some other resource as I try to identify something.  Puzzling it out can be gratifying.  It also helps me develop new habits.  Novelist Harold Brodkey wrote in his memoir, “At one time I was interested in bird watching, and I noticed that when I saw a bird for the first time I couldn’t really see it, because I had no formal arrangement, no sense of pattern for it.  I couldn’t remember it clearly, either.  But once I identified the bird, the drawings in bird books and my own sense of order arranged the image and made it clearer to me, and I never forgot it.”

I was glad to discuss this bird with my daughter, even in the limited way of texting on a cell phone, so I could learn about it.  I was gladder still when it recovered enough to rustle its feathers and fly away.  I will remember the thrush and its brief visit.

Thrush song:

Of the Earth, By the Earth, and For the Earth

Dr. Seung Heun Lee offered “The Prayer for Peace” at the opening ceremony of the General Assembly of the United Nations on August 28, 2000.  Since he invoked the name of this blog, I share an excerpt here.  Eleven years later, having experienced in the U.S. the ravaging effects of the 9/11/01 attacks, his call for a revolution of the human spirit seems even more fitting.  Here are some of his words for healing our world.

with gratitude together we rise

“I offer this prayer for peace

To declare a revolution

Of the human spirit.

I wish to announce that

It is now time

For all of us to spiritually awaken

And become enlightened,

For the time of the enlightened few is over,

The age of elitist enlightenment has passed.

For how long do you seek to wait for prophets

To come down from mountaintops

And tell us what to do?

We all must become enlightened

To recognize our divinity,

To raise up our consciousness…

We must ourselves become the enlightened ones.

We must realize our Oneness.

I declare that we must all become ‘earthlings’

Of the Earth

And not of any religion, nation or race,

But of this Earth, for this Earth, and by this Earth

To create a lasting peace

On Earth.”

Bodhisattva of the Earth

Snow in October


I knew it was coming.

I just didn’t expect snow so early—

before the leaves all fell,

though I knew it was autumn

in Minnesota

where snow is inevitable,

where death, as everywhere,

is inevitable.


When it came for my mother,

she dropped one night like a leaf

into her sheaf of newspapers with half-finished

crossword puzzles,

a week past her Libra birthday.


My sisters and brother and I

buried her up north on a snowy slope

in October.

We dressed for dignity,

not the weather,

our thin shoes sliding toward the grave.


Dog vs. Duck, Bay Lake

Dog vs. Duck, Bay Lake


by D.H. Lawrence

One might talk of the sanity of the atom,

the sanity of space,

the sanity of the electron,

the sanity of water–

for it is all alive

and has something comparable to that which we call sanity in ourselves.

The only oneness is the oneness of sanity.