Icy chicken-wire fence
March doesn’t seem so mad this morning as it prepares to leave. The thick ice that covered every surface for days has melted. The tops of the trees were the last to shed their coating. As we returned from Cleveland a few days ago, we knew exactly when we reentered the ice-zone: the setting sun amplified the glisten-topped black stalks of trees. At home ice continued clinging to all the dried vegetation and coating the chicken-wire fence surrounding the garden. Five days after the Ice Storm of 2011, during cold but sunny days the treetops still sparkled. On the final frosty morning, little ice crystals caught the sunlight making for a star-studded field.
I’m as eager as the next guy for spring but this finale to winter could not have been lovelier. The hearty switch grass that bowed so low under ice has risen again. Its toothpick thin stalks stand tall and straight. The compass plant can’t get up but joins the thatch on the ground while its roots are already preparing to produce this year’s giant stalk with it turning yellow head. I’ll miss March!
THE ICE STORM OF 2011
If my driveway pilgrimage is like other spiritual quests, March resembles the “slough of despond.” Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, I’m discouraged; I can’t rise above the misery of the harsh weather and pervading deadness all around. Walking or just peering from my upstairs window at the flattened earth with its aging snow piles under sky of sullen grey, I share the lifeless aura of nature. “Rejoice in the day,” I tell myself, but my longing for a renewed Earth overwhelms me. Earlier on in the season, deep in a Midwest winter, I have no such angst—things are supposed to be that way. But in pre-spring (as my Dad once said, “We’re rational animals—but not very”), I let nature’s gloom creep inside my psyche. I dare speculate that “This is my Father’s World,” with its cheery line “he shines in all that’s fair,” wasn’t written in March in Michigan.
(written in 2008 in All Nature Sings: March, page 61)