Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Like Honey in Her Cup

The north wind brushes snow away from ice on the river, and clouds of displaced snowflakes swirl through the air like confetti. Light flickers through nearby trees and everything sparkles: river, snowdrifts, whiskery branches and frozen grasses. The scene is uplifting for a crotchety human in January. She longs for light, and the sunshine is like a shawl across her shoulders as it comes and goes through the snowflakes and the mist over the river—it's like honey in her cup.

Where the current is strong, the river has not yet frozen over, but the weather is bitterly cold, and it won't be long until the waterway is frozen from one shore to the other. There are reeds on the far shore, their stalwart toes firmly planted in the frozen mud, and their desiccated stalks swaying in the wind. When they can be seen, the spikes outlined against the sky are pleasing, their artfully curling tops eloquent of something wild and elemental and engaging. So too are the frosted fields and trees and power lines, the cobalt hues of snow and sky, the veil of cold mist hanging over everything.

We name them reeds, bulrushes or reed mace, tule, cattails, cat-o'-nine-tails or swamp sausages. We tuck them into floral arrangements, weave them into baskets, pound their rhizomes into flour, make paper out of them, or sometimes (as she was doing this day) just perch on the shoreline and watch them crackle and flutter in the wind. Members of genus typha are always pleasing, but most of all (I think) when they are hanging out in the frozen waters of their native place.

This week, there were no caroling birds by the river, and there was silence for the most part, but she remembered the river laughing in springtime as it thawed, summer's herons motionless in the reeds at sundown, armadas of floating leaves in September. She smiled, thinking of Vladimir Nabokov's memoir, "Speak Memory". On another day, that might have been a good title for this post written in the icy depths of winter.

The world around her is a manuscript written in wind and light. How on earth is she going to fit sky, wind, river, landscape and dancing snow into one 5 x 7 image?

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