by Jeff Steinberg
“You live here year-round?”
I was asked for the umpteenth time
by another incredulous tourist.
“How can you stand the winter?”
I thought about telling him of
the special magic of this place.
Those sacred mysteries which
reveal themselves only after the tourists have gone.
The somber greyness of December skies,
enhancing the rich conifer greens
and speckled yellows and ambers
of those leaves stubbornly clinging on.
Only to find themselves at once
swirling in a grand open-air ballroom,
reveling to the melodic strains
of a sudden gust of wind.
Or how the waning afternoon sun,
upon reaching just the right spot,
will cast a sepia-like incandescence even
Maxfield Parrish would be want to capture.
How an eagle circling high overhead
pierces the serene stillness with its screech,
undiluted by the squeals of throngs
of summer interlopers
desperately scrambling to cram
the entire Door County experience
into the two-and-a half days they’ve
allotted for accomplishing the task.
How the sun creates
on black and boat-less waters
a vast and starry night
in the middle of the day.
And how the rise and fall
of summer crowds are now
the rhythmic ebb and flow
of crackling icy waters
tapping against deserted docks
their Morse code secrets,
answers to ancient questions
for only the most ardent listener to hear.
And how a freshly fallen blanket
of snow, reflected in the moonlight
like a million tiny diamond flecks,
becomes a canvas of Divine artistry.
How acres of now barren orchards,
naked sentries standing watch
over the white crystal charges at their feet,
are encroached upon by none
except perhaps that determined fox,
listening for the mouse burrowing
almost imperceptibly beneath the snow.
The tiniest scratching heard by him alone.
And how our sacred places,
temporarily usurped for
frivolous photo-ops by the masses
return once more to quiet reverence and Grace,
Blessing us with perfect stillness
through which God whispers
our most precious secrets and inspirations.
All of these things and more
I thought about telling him.
But in the end, “Oh, it’s not so bad.”
is what I offered.
Perhaps it’s just as well he doesn’t know.