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Four seasons meditations

Meditations for four different months for Athol, Massachusetts (2002-2003).



The crystalline light of late January
filters down to us through cold air,
reflects off snow and ice, barely
warms our face. In the depths of winter,
it's hard to remember spring will come
one day. But in the mean time,
that cold clear light shows us
a landscape stripped to essentials.
We feel that we can see things
as they really are, not hidden
behind myth and superstition and
fairy tales. It is winter reality.


You can feel it now: the days are longer,
the sun higher in the sky at mid-day.
Something begins to emerge from winter:
rising sap drips from broken branches and
buckets appear on sugar maples; snow melts.
The yellow blossoms of witch hazel;
green skunk cabbage in silent marshes;
you can see little bits of it.
You can hear it: small birds singing
once again in the morning, and at night
the owls call out, searching for mates.
Let's not tempt fate by saying,
winter's as good as over. It's not.
But you can start to feel hopeful.
Something new is coming.


At nine in the evening, you can still
sit outdoors and read a book; the sun
just below the horizon then, but still
it sheds enough light to see clearly.
The light fades a little more; stillness
emerges from the trees and bushes;
not silence, but a stillness filled
with faint sounds of neighbors talking,
the girl jumping on the trampoline
across the way, the quiet chittering
of a few chimney swifts flying high above,
headed home, a faint rustle of leaves
as the evening breezes start up. Still
the sky has that faint tinge of blue
low in the west; a star now appears, or
no, a plane, thousands of feet above,
no sound of it down here, just
landing lights pointing who knows where;
now a star, and another; you can barely see
a bat begin her nightly hunt. The book
lies forgotten this midsummer's evening
in that stillness where dreams begin.


Towards the end of autumn, as days grow short
the sun never gets very high above the horizon.
Already the first snow has come, and all the trees
are bare, except for a few stubborn oaks.
If you haven't finished raking up the leaves
by now, it's too late. Give up for the year!
Late autumn is made for idleness: it's made
for sitting in the long, dark evenings;
for thinking of nothing and everything; for
memories. Do what's necessary, but nothing
more. Sit in idleness. Stare at long shadows.
That is how the long nights of late autumn
are meant to be used.