Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Walking in a Winter Wooded Land

Woods in Winter
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O'er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river's gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater's iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.

Yesterday, we walked the woods. (OK, my "solemn feet" limped the woods. Again, my aches predicted today's weather.) We didn't encounter icicles or winds; unlike the day Longfellow describes in his poem, our day was mild.

Maggie ran flat out, pausing only to soak in the creek. For Christmas, a neighbor had given Maggie a new toy which she absolutely loved—sort of a squeaky toy squirrel on a rope. Maggie could chase it, pounce on it, play tug-of-war with it, throw it, etc. A perfect border collie toy! Maggie really wanted to take it on her walk—er, run—but I persuaded her to leave it in the truck while we walked the woods.

There is a beauty to winter woods: a wonderful starkness, an enchanted look. Longfellow's description does it more justice than my words can. This picture, taken yesterday, looks like a scene from fantasy, science fiction, or speculative fiction or poetry:

(This is for you, 'Nita! You know exactly where this shot was taken.)

From behind the vine, Maggie's eyes glow—an enchanted dog in an enchanted winter wood.

Longfellow's poem was written in the 1800's. To read James Thomson's 1726 poem about winter, click here. Warning, it's lengthy—but I love the last line: Pure flowing Joy, and Happiness sincere.

That's yesterday's walk in the winter woods.

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Blogger Debi said...

It looks like the Blair Witch Project.

I didn't even see Maggie there!

3:51 PM  

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