Friday, December 12, 2014

"Being There" for Christmas

the mystery of Winter fog
the mystery of Winter fog
Photo by J. Harrington

The temperatures above freezing are a treat. The cloudy, overcast skies, not so much. Next week I'm planning on some trips to spots along the St. Croix River to take pictures and see if there's open water. Others have already set a nice pattern for me to follow. Some very nice photos of the Minnesota River's ice formations can be found here. Then there's Greg Seitz' recent piece about the Wonder of Water in Winter. For reasons I can't quite pin down, his photos make me think of what I felt like when I was in grammar school, just starting to explore the woods and waters around my home. It was a feeling of fun and excitement that I now recall with very fond memories. One of my all time favorite writers, Gene Hill, has captured a "grown up" version of those feelings in the passage below:
"But the truth, to my way of seeing it, is that those who love the bits and pieces of being there—the sweetness of a singing lark, the way one whitetail can suddenly fill up a clearing, the fearsomeness of a sudden storm, and the almost unbelievable sense of relief when we’ve gotten out of a very sticky situation—have to have a sense of the magic of it all, a belief in the intangible and unknown, and no small degree of unquestionable wonder."
a stream to explore
a stream to explore
Photo by J. Harrington
The kind of "Being There" that Hill writes about doesn't fit neatly under a tree at Christmas, all wrapped in paper and ribbons. If it did, I would wish for nothing more, or less, than a multitude of Being Theres for those of us who love the outdoors and those who share that love with us. Those shared feelings beat socks, ties and slippers all out and are only enhanced by being accompanied by a puppy, dog, friends and family.

Christmas Night

By Conrad Hilberry 

Let midnight gather up the wind   
and the cry of tires on bitter snow.   
Let midnight call the cold dogs home,   
sleet in their fur—last one can blow   

the streetlights out.   If children sleep   
after the day’s unfoldings, the wheel   
of gifts and griefs, may their breathing   
ease the strange hollowness we feel.   

Let midnight draw whoever’s left   
to the grate where a burnt-out log unrolls   
low mutterings of smoke until   
a small fire wakes in its crib of coals.

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