Here we measure seasons by small changes in temperature and for one, heavy rainfall.
We are the calendar reliant, otherwise left to look at the moon and count to ascertain roughly
what month it might be, but we now live in a solar calendar world so our lunar efforts are necessarily doomed to failure.
And holidays are different here, Christmas has no snow, so we decorate our palms and perhaps have inflatable snowmen or reindeer, and hang icicles from our gutters as a reminder of what winter is for so many other than us.
Once the winter stars wrapped in their cloudy shroud shed frozen tears, unwilling to come out of hiding. We searched for them in vain, knowing our failure, retreating to the warmth of home, only to repeat the failed effort on so many other nights.
Now, here, the winter stars are usually fearless, some drowned by the moon, but she waxes and wanes and they reappear, the brightest never fearing the chilled sky. We stare at them in wonder having forgotten for so many years just how beautiful they can be in their glory.
I have carefully peeled back the skin of a hundred snakes and left their twisted forms curled around mesquite as so many skirts. Canadia geese follow carefully worn paths across an October sky undeterred by storm clouds giving chase from the west. A wolf wanders down from the tree line to the edge of the highway. She can taste the approach of winter, bitter on her tongue, her coat grown thick, watching for a buck to be thrown to the gravel shoulder by a passing truck. In my closet I have a pair of boots, nothing more than simple cowhide.
First Appeared in Amethyst Review (Canada), Vol. 8, No. 2, Winter 2000
God sits at his easel, brush in hand and thinks about the butterfly alighting on the oak. This man would rather paint the nightmare of hell, but he has been cast out and his memory has grown dim. He remembers being a small child amused by the worm peering from soil in a fresh rain and how when he split it, both halves would slither away in opposite directions. Now he rocks in the chair and watches night fall and shatter on the winter ground.
First Appeared in Medicinal Purposes: A Literary Review, Vol. 1, No. 6, Spring 1997.
In the early morning, before I open the blinds, before the sun approaches rising, I imagine the chill enveloping everything outside, October slipping quickly toward November, to the possibility of rolling snake eyes, to snow.
Winter always came that way, unannounced, and at least by me, unwelcomed, the last of the crimson, flame orange and ochre leaves dragged to the earth and buried ignominiously.
But I know when I do open the blinds, even while the sun is still in its celestial witness protection, I will see the shadow of the palm trees and know that here we measure winter on a wholly different scale.
An elk stands at the edge of a placid mountain lake and sees only the clouds of an approaching winter. A black bear leans over the mirrored surface of the lake and sees only the fish that will soon be his repast. The young man draped in saffron robes looks calmly into the water and sees a pebble, the spirit of his ancestors. I look carefully into the water looking for an answer to a question always lurking out of reach and see only my ever thinning hair.
FirstAppeared in Green’s Magazine (Canada), Vol. 29, No.1, Autumn 2000.
The quieter you become the more you can hear. — Baba Ram Dass
Orion lies over the wharf staring at the moon, dangling like an unyielding eye, barring sleep while below the waves wash onto the shore, licking the pilings and tasting the sand, a calming roar broken only by the barking of the harbor seals. It is not a night for hunting the bear has fled over the horizon preparing for the coming winter and the hunter tires from the chase. A gull nips at his heels, and plunges back into the swells, he must be content with the odd fish and scraps from the strange ones who mass on the wharf each day and retreat by night until there is only the hunter and the goddess and two young men curled into the sand. I stand on the balcony and stare at the hunter wishing that sleep would come, that the white eye would blink, but the waves wash in and the harbor seals bark and the stars beat a slow retreat.