Morning in Winter

The ears wake first, opening to the songs of birds: titmouse, cardinal, the jay’s cry. They are close to the house and they are in the woods; they are streets and blocks and arm’s reach away. In the cedar, in the dogwood, the beech. It’s time to feed, maybe time to nest. Morning is the birds’ world first.

Then the eyes, opening to the shrouded window. Fog again. Branches, dun and depthless, converge; birch and crab apple and the nameless wonder at the top of the driveway all stolid and indistinct. Trees are always patient, wrapped today in warm gauze and, just here and there, bearing beads of lifeless dew.

Here is your winter.

No one would agree, but I would have it white again, grey-skyed or blue. I would have it all tamped down with cold, the scrape of ice and cars warming their powdered hum in the driveway. I would have sleds and red cheeks and a second reason for tea, a world sealed with snow limning everything, making the world distinct. I would have how snow makes living more acute and the cold air filling your lungs.

But outside is fog, is birdsong, is warm enough that I slept with the window open. The sun doesn’t break through, but it swells the air and fills the fog; and the dun branch, that bead of dew just there take on a subtle shine.

It’s a new mercy this morning and every morning, and it would be mercy if it were all coming down rain.

The weather, the branches, the light– everything always a metaphor.

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