The View from Mattie’s Pillow

Grey flannel skies today, flat light all across the sky, fine snow falling. This morning, when I went to feed the horses, flakes so fine I couldn’t see them at first, sifting down, a light dust of white on Sam’s white back, a veil of it over Mattie’s black one.

It’s warmer now and there’s more light than when I started these posts in January. Today in the Effie Kokrine class, we read a poem from Joe Enzweiler’s A Winter on Earth in which he wrote of the light on snow as “burning.” When I asked the kids what he meant, they said, maybe the snow is melting. After a few tries, I realized that the poem starts with “February 1” and, for us, that time a little over three weeks ago, when the sun first began to cast coppery light over the morning or evening snow, when it didn’t quite reach full light or make anything gleam much less melt, is distant memory. Now we’re on the ever-accelerating swoop into light that fills the days and crowds out night. In less than a month, the equinox. We’re ready to forget winter before it’s really over.

Some friends of mine have finally gotten me to sign up on Facebook.  It’s a heady feeling–conversations between people who know each other but are scattered across the world. Looking at photos of horses under palm trees or reading about the weather in Australia reminds me both how narrow my Alaskan view can seem and how exotic to others.   Joe, who is my poetry hero, has resisted technology for as long as I’ve known him. When friends visit from Outside, I often take them to his house; the Alaskan cabin-dwelling poet, a cliché, but in Joe’s case his house, his poetry, his woodworking, his rock-wall building, his conversational flights of fancy are integrated, all of a piece. But now Joe has a laptop. I’m not sure how to take this.

The light is fading from the day. I’m about to leave off writing and go out to throw hay to the horses and head to a gathering of friends with a loaf of jalapeno cornmeal bread from Lulu’s. I’m grateful for the technology that lets me write this, for you reading this–a gift to any writer.   I’m grateful, too, for the mundane chores the horses require; they ground me to things it’s easy to forget, the way we forget how the light shone on the snow only three weeks ago.

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