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Winter

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.

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