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Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter at last: nostalgia

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Lately, my thoughts want to come out in poems. I don't know what has happened, it's never been like this before. I think I just long for an economy of words. I am also reading more poems than anything else. Mary Oliver. Rainer Maria Rilke. Rumi. Charles Bukowski. Mark Strand. Whatever Garrison Keillor offers in the daily Writer's Almanac. The poems you write. Or, if I read a book or an article, I read them in short bursts, as if a paragraph is a prose poem. I force myself to read a few Op Eds in the NY Times or BBC online. Have you ever read David Brooks or Paul Krugman with an eye to metaphor? OK, I just clicked on the Opinion page to find some good metaphors to show you what I mean, and guess what? Paul Krugman's piece today is titled: Block those Metaphors. I'm not kidding, it happened just like that, synchronously. Is he saying he doesn't want me to co-opt his column as poetry?

Anyway. When the snow finally arrived on the weekend, I felt at ease, at last. A poem-memory slid out. Also, because of the nostalgia, I turned the photos sepia. Don't get me wrong. I love the blue of winter, and I'll show you plenty of it in the months to come. But for this first snowfall, let me take you back . . .



Winter at last


When at last she comes
in the middle of December

Winter pulls our old toboggan of bamboo
by its curled bow

like a come-hither finger
“Sorry I’m late”

and in red and black woolens
I climb onto the vinyl pad

with three older brothers
me pocketed in the imperial front seat

of the curl
muscled by their weight behind

secure in their brotherly oar-like legs
shoving off the hill into the wild white

like Norse Vikings, my seven-year-old face
the brave winter-fairy figurehead






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66 comments:

Ginnie said...

Our snow came early here in Holland and then went, Sister. It will come back this week, they say, and maybe will be a poem for Christmas? I hope so. I can picture you and Don there on the farm now...a Farm for all seasons! Just keep writing your poems. Let them all come out.

Gwen Buchanan said...

You are poetry Ruth.

my15minutes said...

Lovely imagery; lovely memories.

Susan said...

I love your poetry, and the sepia fits very well with today's offering. I can just picture your little face scrunching up against the bite of the wind as you race down the hill.

Bonnie said...

Amazing synchronicity between your impulse and Krugman's title! Love your sepia treatment of the photographs - it meshes perfectly with your poem. I could visualize you there leading your flat bamboo boat and brothers into the unknown.

Hope you do not lose this urge to spill your thoughts out into soul-touching poetry. I feel somehow nourished by it.

George said...

Beautifully and lovingly rendered, Ruth. Such a wonderful poem, so spare and so evocative. I love the sepia photos. They add depth to the whole piece. Have a good week.

Ruth said...

Boots, I've watched your snow and the UK's with longing.

One strange thing this winter: no chickens wandering in the snow. I miss them.

Ruth said...

Gwen, thank you. I receive and resist what you say. But maybe it's what I feel for you: you are art.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Beth.

Ruth said...

Susie, I grew up playing with boys mostly. My brothers used to practice their wrestling moves on me! You'd think I would have gotten tougher . . .

:)

Thank you, my dear friend.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Bonnie. Truth is, writing poems nourishes me, and that is the main reason I do it. But you saying you somehow feel nourished by it is moving and motivating. I appreciate your kind comments.

Ruth said...

George, thank you, my friend. I wish we could sit and talk about sepia and how it first came as a dye from cuttlefish . . .

Thanks, I hope you have a good week, too.

Peter said...

Love those photos! The effects work really well with the lens you're using.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Bo! Thanks to you, Lightroom, and picnik.com.

Dutchbaby said...

Such a lovely image: you as a Viking figurehead in red and black on your bamboo ship. As you know, I became quite obsessed with Viking ships this year. I will add this image to the catalog of my inner eye.

The sepia tones are great for sending me backwards in time. The last two photos are so beautifully composed. I love the light dusting of snow on Don's rugged coat.

Ruth said...

Dear Dutchbaby, thank you. I must have been living in Norway after your beautiful Oslo-Nobel post and my own post about it too. And, yes! I had your Viking ship images in my head the whole of creating this post!

Gwei Mui said...

Photographs are wonderful!
The poem is gorgeous! I was taken back to when I was a kid sliding down a the snow covered hills in West Yorkshire in a converted orange box.

ds said...

I so love it when your poem-memories slide out. I've been thinking about tobogganing and sledding and so forth, too. Must be the chill in the air (we've no snow yet)...

I can see your little Norse figurehead face--Pippi Longstocking of the Moors, ready for anything. And the alluring, come-hither curve of the toboggan.

Whatever Mr. Krugman writes (am about to go find out), he won't hold a candle to you!

Love the photos too--snow is somehow "snowier" in sepia, you know?

ellen abbott said...

Beautiful photos and I must say I much prefer seeing in pics than in person.

Margaret Bednar said...

LOVE THIS! It just might be my favorite. (with a come hither finger) ... I will just never be this good at poetry, I really struggle for words - but then I am very new at it. The photos take my breath away and the rugged photo of your husband battling the elements is fantastic! The hat, of course, doesn't really warm his head and ears, but it looks smashing. And we thought guys were more practical and not so vain! LOL

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, the snow certainly seems to have hit the US now. Just heard a report about a football stadium roof collapsing under a freight of snow. Incredible!

cathyswatercolors said...

Hi Ruth, YOUr photos are stunning,especially the photo of Don.
Your poem brings back memories of winters past. My girlfriend and i would delight when the playground would freeze so we could ice skate. We also had an outdoor skating rink right up the street.
I remember when my kids were young i would take them to a park to skate outside and then feast on cookies and cocoa. Ahhh the beauty of winter and of course,SNOW DAYS! Is Don off? yay

Ruth said...

Gwei Mui, thank you so much. Well if you were back sliding in your orange box, then this was a successful poem.

Ruth said...

DS, I wish snow for you soon, if you wish it too.

I'm afraid I don't normally find Mr. Krugman poetic, although maybe economics could be considered ambiguous, like poetry. I mean, who understands it?

You are always far too kind to me, my friend. But I thank you with all my heart.

Ruth said...

Ellen, good that you are in Texas then. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Margaret, wow, thanks! for all of that.

Now about that hat. He was comfy in his jammies in the house. I asked him if he would kindly come out and pose for a picture. So he dutifully said yes, and started putting on his farmy best. The hat was there on the hook and he grabbed it. Not for warmth, but for the photo op!

:)

Ruth said...

Robert, that was something! The Minnesota Vikings dome, coincidentally. :) Our Detroit Lions have invited the two teams to come play in Ford Field tonight, and the tickets were free giveaways for a while. But I just read that they stopped giving them away after being bombarded . . .

Thanks for your visit, Robert.

Ruth said...

Cathy, thank you very much. I am eager to skate again. We keep talking about freezing the orchard (The pond isn't big enough) and having a party. Maybe the fire department could come flood it for us. I used to get frozen toes and fingers skating at our iced baseball diamond under the bridge in Grand Ledge.

Yes, a snow day for Don! Enjoy yours! They're the best, and well deserved by you teachers.

The Bug said...

There you go again making me want to rethink my winter blues. I don't know - it might work if my toes weren't cold RIGHT NOW in my wool socks. Sigh. :)

Helena said...

Beautiful images and poetry. We also have a winter wonderland over here and I love it. :-)

Montag said...

It is so cold that I am watching movies I've seen before with the audio off... forcing me to pay closer attention and seeing things I seemed to have skipped over before.

Pauline said...

goodness - your talent knows no end. Photos, words - I can just picture winter tugging your toboggan up the hill, apologizing briefly.

Jean Spitzer said...

Beautiful photos and poem.

I didn't grow up with the snow experience; it's exotic for me.

deb said...

exquisite.

words and photos .

you.


I went out in the long awaited winter last night under moonlight and tried to capture what I was feeling but no luck. Those bright starry velvet sky school nights when my brothers and I would play hide and seek until our pj's under jeans would freeze solid .


( I didn't use the flash, but the streetlights cast an odd orange glow )

Terresa said...

Winter and wonder, put to words.

Julie said...

Beautiful photos Ruth, we got a few inches here last nite. Your words for the poem are lovely. Julie in Holland...

Ruth said...

Dana, if the toes ain't happy, ain't nothin' happy. My toes and fingers get cold too, I think I got close to frostbite one of those sledding or skating times. So pretty out there, but so so cold, especially today: 10F.

Ruth said...

Hi, Helena, thank you very much. I can imagine how beautiful it must be in Finland now. Ahhh.

Ruth said...

Montag, I hope you won't be offended if I laughed out loud when I read your comment! The connection between it being this cold and you turning off the audio is invisible to me, and it seems like such a Montag thing, and I like it . . . a lot!! Oh the mysteries of Montag's extraordinary mind . . .

Ruth said...

Pauline, oh what a kind thing you said. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Jean, I don't know where you grew up. I think most people find winter scenes beautiful, but not everyone can take the cold. I understand that. I wonder how you would like it.

Ruth said...

Sweet Deb, those are precious images, both what you tried to conjure, and you going out in the moonlight.

. . . bright starry velvet sky school nights . . . pj's under jeans would freeze solid. ! ! !

Ruth said...

Hi, Terresa, thank you. Welcome home from your beautiful travels.

Ruth said...

Julie in Holland, thank you for your kind words. Wow, even more snow there. What a season! I told Boots what you wrote, and she said they haven't gotten it yet, but it's coming.

Friko said...

"the brave winter fairy figurehead"

Wonderful, dear Ruth, a gorgeous little gem.
Winter and poetry go together. We spend so much more time just staring, sitting and staring, thinking thoughts, remembering, smiling and remembering some more.
Sometimes we are sad, sometimes we are glad for the memories, but always there is poetry.

The whole winter world is a poem.

Margaret Bednar said...

Did you see my post on the "Christmas Schooner"? Just thought you might enjoy it as you live in Michigan. And if there is a theatre performing it near you, it would be one to consider seeing. Very nostalgic and the music is beautiful. And it is a slice of history.

Julie said...

Beautiful poem, Ruth. I love the images and the feeling it gives me when I read it. The photos are amazing, too. The old fashioned look of sepia is awesome. Thanks for the wonderful winter trek you have given us this week!

Barb said...

Your photos are exquisite! I like the sepia tone which does lend itself well to your memory poem. I can picture you in the Imperial seat, cheeks reddened by excitement and cold.

rauf said...

Every picture is a poem Ruth. i wouldn't like to stand there like Don. i am not made for cold Ruth. snow is scary to me. And winter costs money. i can get away with heat but not cold. You can beat the heat sitting under a shady tree. But cold goes everywhere. Scientifically cold doesn't exist. It is absence of heat. Heat is energy. i think i can bear the cold thinking of that. People say it is a state of mind. But minus 30 degrees is not a state of mind Ruth.

Aapa likes to read Paul Krugman's column in our local news paper. She likes his language. you know i don't read news papers Ruth. i seriously doubt if he is aware of the very existence of our local News paper. She says he has won a Nobel prize, i never knew that.

'No smoking' is not a metaphor and i smoke thinking that it could be a metaphor.

Oliag said...

How lucky you have been lately, Ruth! To have snow in abundance and to be capable of expressing it in poem and photo so exquisitely.
I love your photos, the touch of color that remains in Don's coat just draws my eye in...They are all beautiful in sepia and I think sepia is so very hard to do well...
I love your poem too...Winter has not yet arrived here...well cold has but not snow...and I have "a mind of winter" and no snow to play in...

Ruth said...

Hello, Friko. Thank you very much. I agree with you about winter and poetry now that you've said it, but I hadn't made the connection. I think winter is also the same reason I seem to be constantly hungry and eating a lot. Some old instinct for survival. :)

Ruth said...

Hi, Margaret, I couldn't find it, though I found your wonderful sledding post. Which blog is it in?

Ruth said...

Hi, Julie, I'm glad you enjoyed some of your own Michigan winter here this week. It must be fun getting to know a new country with its warm winter traditions.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Barb. We have a spectacular hill at our family cottage, a double hill actually. You can start at the top of one behind the cottage, and if you're good and careful, you can slide down, level off past the cottage, and hit the next hill down and slide right onto the lake -- avoiding all the oak trees of course!

Ruth said...

rauf, you are used to 30-35C, I would be terribly worried if you came to Michigan in the winter. Guess what? I just heard about a student from Lesley's school, College for Creative Studies in Detroit, who created a coat that turns into a sleeping bag. It's made from old army blankets and Tyvek, the white paper stuff they wrap around newly constructed houses before the siding. Very lightweight and so warm you would sweat indoors. She started it as a project for class, something for the homeless in Detroit. Now it has been picked up by Carhartt. She devoted $2000 of her own, she wants to give them away to those who need them. You can imagine how miserable it is on the streets of Detroit right now. I hope she gets them manufactured quickly. So exciting.

I completely forgot that Krugman won the Nobel for Economics. He is very much against the latest extension to the Bush tax cut bill. I am impressed that Aapa reads and likes him. But then, she is an accountant and understands economics far better than I do. I read and struggle to understand. I want to understand economics without taking a class, rauf. When Don took his economics class in college, the first day the professor announced: No one understands economics, let's just get that straight right now.

EEEEEEE.

Ruth said...

Oliag, thank you for your kind words. I am crazy about sepia and would make everything that monotone if I could. But then I recognize it would be boring all the time. I hope you'll get snow soon. Rhode Island must be beautiful in the snow, well I've seen photos and I know it is. I think you do winter sports too, in your fit dancing self. :)

Margaret Bednar said...

Sorry, I should have said the Christmas Schooner post can be found in my Art Happens 365, dated 12-12.

Ruth said...

Margaret, oh, I see it now, thank you. It's wonderful to have such a meaningful tradition in your family.

Loring Wirbel said...

We're allegedly getting our first snow (very, very late, as Winter proclaims in your wonderful poem) this evening or Thursday, though it's been promised before, and our four to six inches will look measly next to Michigan's foot. Very cool sepia picture of Don.

Ruth said...

Dear Loring, I know yours come and go quickly sometimes. I hope it will be beautiful and not cause any grief, and I especially hope it comes!

Thank you, I like the picture too. He duded up for me for this little photo walk. You know the walk, but not in winter.

Arti said...

Thanks for the inspiration... I tried using some 'antique' effects on my winter photos on my current post, not fully sepia. But of course sepia is so effective here on Nostalgia. I've been appreciating metaphors as well lately. Our language will be impoverished greatly if they are indeed blocked. (the article is sober though) Your Dickens post is rich and dense. I'll have to come back and reread it some more. Thanks for all the time you must have spent on preparing these posts, Ruth.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Arti. We need metaphors and art more than ever in these hard times.

Your current post on Snow Country is so profoundly beautiful, it has set the tone for my day: simple and deep and lovely.

Vagabonde said...

You do have a gift with words – they flow so well out of your pen. Your pictures are lovely too – in sepia they do have that nostalgic mood. We had snow for several hours this week but it went away quickly. Today, a beautiful sun, mostly blue sky and going up to 50.

partialview said...

Each time I visit your blog (I notice that the frequency is increasing steadily), I come back and take a look at these pictures here. They are pure poetry. Especially the one with the gentleman's profile and the snow on his jacket and the expression and the sepia mood... Brilliant.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

The photos are absolutely wonderful. For some reason, I can't get my eyes off the one of the snow on the thorns. Perfect stillness, yet so fleetingly transient. The nostalgia it evokes seems to go so well with the spirit of the lovely poem, bustling with stiking images: the oar-like legs, the curled bow like a come-hither finger, all reflected in the seven-year-old face of that brave winter-fairy figurehead. Great stuff.

Jeanie said...

The first photo with the barns is a stunner. It reminds me of my grandparents' barn at their farm. Nice treatment on the photos. As always, I feel bettwer just for visitng here!