To the Thawing Wind


Today is the birthday of Robert Frost (1874-1963), who is probably best known for his thoughtful, evocative poetic observations of rural life, inspired by his years of farming in England and New Hampshire: Mending Wall, The Road Not Taken, The Pasture. Frost’s poetry is not necessarily easy reading, although it seems accessible at first glance, drawing the reader in through a seemingly conventional, anecdotal surface. But often in his choice of subject matter and his carefully crafted blend of meters and language styles one can see that he is not exactly a 19th-century romantic pastoral wander-through-the-daffodils kind of guy.

Less often quoted are his darker poems on themes of abandonment, estrangement, and the bitterness of loss, poetry reflecting Frost’s own difficult life journey. Losing his father to tuberculosis at age eleven, then his mother to cancer; laboring, unsuccessfully at first, to farm and write and support a family (later supplemented by teaching and the eventual success of his poetry); seeing his sister committed to a mental hospital; outliving four of his six children, who succumbed variously to cholera, childbed fever, and suicide; and outliving also his wife, who died, like his mother, from cancer—these are weighty burdens for a man already struggling with depression, which seems to have run in the family for generations.

Although such a series of tragedies could bring on depression in the most resilient of characters. Which makes Frost’s achievement all the more remarkable: not only that he found profoundly inventive and powerful means of expressing human despair, in a voice both intimate and universal, but that he could also convey deeply felt, unsentimental appreciation for life’s beauty and joy. Not only to endure, but to make of pain a shared work of art to illuminate the soul and expand the vision: that is a birthday gift for everybody.

Come with rain, O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate’er you do tonight,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit’s crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o’er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.

For another Robert Frost poem, and a picture, please see A Snowy Evening.

Today is also the birthday of poet Alfred Edward Housman, and for a bio, picture, and poem, please see Loveliest of Trees.

This image is available as a high-resolution print on 8.5″ x 11″ archival paper.



According to tradition, today is the feast of the Annunciation, the day on which the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce an unexpected little surprise that was to arrive on Christmas Day…EXACTLY nine months later. Unlike most of the rest of us moms, Mary was apparently not fated to go into premature labor or run weeks past her due date, thus alarming midwives, spouse, and relatives.

In Sweden, this day is celebrated with waffles. You may ask why we celebrate the pregnancy 2000 years ago of a nice small-town Jewish girl with a medieval Dutch cake? Well, as the story goes, in Sweden, the Feast of the Annunciation is called Vårfrudagen, or “Lady Day.” Which is similar enough to Våffeldagen, “Waffle Day,” to cause a little confusion on March 25th and launch an annual tradition. It’s a confusion we are happy to perpetuate in our household, despite its being the middle of Lent. It IS the Annunciation, after all.


This image is available as a high-resolution print on 8.5″ x 11″ archival paper.

The Song of Wandering Aengus

For Valentines Day.


I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

—William Butler Yeats


This image is available as a high-resolution print on 8.5″ x 11″ archival paper.

Beach in Winter


With our furnace dying, the temperature dropping, and the prospect of an unexpected major purchase looming, I am wondering if a vacation is in the cards for us this year. Yet I am dreaming of the beach. (I’ll bet that ocean is cold today.) But our chilly household temperatures are nothing. Today is the birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and for a picture and a story about SERIOUS weather, please see A Long Winter.

This image is available as a high-resolution print on 8.5″ x 11″ archival paper.

New Year’s Resolution: Wishes


So many choices! The world offers a bounty of ready-to-grant wishes large and small, from cooking a meal for that sick family to shoveling the neighbors’ front walks to delivering a stack of blankets to the animal shelter. And I know my husband has a long list that includes filing (ugh) and decluttering (sigh) and paying more attention to him (some wishes are fun to grant).

For another resolution, please see Share.


New Year’s Resolution: OoM


You can’t open a newspaper or peruse the new book shelves at the library without coming across yet further evidence of the many benefits of meditation: stronger immune systems, lower stress levels, greater serenity, improved relationships… world peace! May this be the year.

For another resolution, please see Declutter.


Advent IV: Wrapped in sleep

Here is a verse we sometimes say during Advent before dinner, or as part of our homeschool lesson opening exercises. 

Now the twilight of the year
Comes, and Christmas draweth near.
See, across the Advent sky
How the clouds move quietly.
Earth is waiting, wrapped in sleep,
Waiting in a silence deep.
Birds are hid in bush and reed
Flowers are sleeping in their seed.

Through the woodland to and fro
Silent-footed creatures go.
Hedgehog curled in prickly ball
Burrows beneath the leaves that fall.
Man and beast and bird and flower
Waiting for the midnight hour
Waiting for the infant’s birth
Down from Heaven, onto Earth.

—Ann Ellerton

This image is available as a high-resolution print on 8.5″ x 11″ archival paper.