Friday, March 25, 2011


It is difficult to get up during a blizzard at the end of March and go to work. This is true. My workplace, where most of the people (nuns) live right where they work, does not have snow days. So on Wednesday morning, Steve drove me the mile to work in the 4WD Subaru, and it was fine.

We all feel quite put upon, and the people in Chicago and Pennsylvania who woke up to an inch of slushy snow have nothing on us. We got about seven inches, and with the temperatures staying below freezing (well below at night, in the single digits), it's not going to suddenly disappear. The broadcasters, who were in full "flood watch" mode, are still putting out reports, but the crests are delayed now, and in a way, this might slow down the flooding or make it less severe--or more, depending on who you listen to.

One thing I like about a late snow like this is that the birds have returned. I feel for them, but figure they must have enough resources to get through a slight setback like this. I mean, spring IS coming. It's a geological certainty. 

In the meantime, we get to listen to the birds in this still-white, silent world. We can see the sand hill cranes, which returned last week, in stark contrast to the frozen wetlands. And in the morning when I look out the window, I see all the tracks of little creatures making their way down our prairie paths.

There will be no more cross-country skiing for us, so the birds and small animals and deer get the landscape, and they seem to follow the trails we made. It gets the imagination working.

Here is a poem I wrote about 5 years ago, when my apartment looked out on a small lake. It is about cross-country skiing, and it's true that when I'm skiing I still am always looking for signs of animals or hidden animals.  It was written earlier in winter, but the tracks made me think of it today.

Why I Cross-Country Ski

I am out here for the two deer
who hide behind the smallest scrap of yellow:
the mother stands and watches me,
from this distance so like a dog
until she prances, and even then--
until her child bounds toward her,
hooves to haunches with his quick heart.

Last week on an inch of powder
I saw their sweet tracks circling
objects poking through the lake,
their tiny regular footfalls meandering.
I know somewhere they lie down
and the snow hollows a bed beneath them.
I think they are not bothered by cold.
It may be they like this season best of all.

1 comment:

Connie said...

Oh my goodness, what a BEAUTIFUL poem, Susan. It's like a prayer. Thanks for sharing it. Enjoy your Friday at home!