Art, Poetry, Music, and Nature for the New Year
Sunday, January 24 2021
The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2
I am categorically summer-oriented: sunshine, warmth, green growing things. Donald Hall thinks otherwise. December, January, February, March—even November cloud and April thaw—are to be cherished. Writing from his grandfather’s farm in New Hampshire, I like to picture the one-time Poet Laureate writing this after spending the morning responding to ten or more fan letters: he wrote so many letters per year (4,000 on average) that the The U.S. Postal Service created a zip code just for him. I find that charming. A short biography and some of his poetry can be found at the Poetry Foundation. In Seasons at Eagle Pond, Hall writes:
“In New Hampshire we know ourselves by Winter—in snow, in cold, in darkness. For some of us the first true snow begins it; for others Winter begins with the first bruising assault of zero weather. There is yet another sort, light-lovers, for whom Winter begins with dark’s onset in mid-August. If we wake as we ought at 5:30, we begin waking in darkness, and dawn turns throaty with the ululations of photophilics, noctophobics, some of whom are fanatical enough to begin lamentation late in the month of June when dawn begins at 4:32 a.m. and the day before it arrived at 4:31:30…
…Some of us on the other hand are darkness-lovers. We do not dislike the early and late daylight of June, whippoorwills’ graytime, but we cherish the gradually increasing dark of November, which we wrap around ourselves in the prosperous warmth of woodstove, oil, electric blanket, storm window, and insulation. We are partly tuber, partly bear. Inside our warmth we fold ourselves in the dark and its cold—around us, outside us, safely away from us; we tuck ourselves up in the long sleep and comfort of cold’s opposite, warming ourselves by the thought of cold, lighting ourselves by darkness’ idea. Or we are Persephone gone underground again, cozy in the amenities of Hell. Sheltered between stove and electric light, we hollow islands of safety within the cold and dark. As light grows less each day, our fur grows thicker. By December 22 we are cozy as a cat hunkered under a Glenwood.”
May we fold ourselves into the dark, warming ourselves in islands of woodstoves and electric blankets, O God of throaty dawn. Amen.