Tag Archives: winter

A Winter Night’s Vigil

[a poem by ~burning woman~ ]

Deep in another long Winter’s night
when the stars sparkle as if covered in ice
that’s when I let myself, my heart, grow soft;
w
hen I dare to hold my world gentle
to my breast and give such assurance as I can
that all is going to be just fine.
Don’t worry, I whisper silently into the cold,
don’t cry in your pain and hunger.
Don’t be afraid, I speak more forcefully,
when you feel so very sick; when your body fails.
I know your pain for it is mine also.
I know your hunger and thirst, by the same token.
I know how cold you are this night
and the fear that haunts your every breath
haunts my visions and my dreams also.

Though of small comfort let me tell you this,
that this is a time of anticipated travail.
Tis a time of crossing, not a time of ending.
This for you, and for me, is our beginning.
Skeletal, we come from the desert, you and I,
already we’ve survived and overcome so much.
We did not come here to die, my beautiful one
but to transform these bodies of death.
No longer shall we beg for a crust of bread
or a place to sleep safe from storms and mobs.
No longer shall we wear the chains of slaves
or watch as they kill our children for profit.
Wake up, come, stand up and walk with me
looking neither to the left nor to the right
a few more steps, my lovely one, and it is done.

 

Do Scarecrows Dream in those Fields of Yore?

                                                          [a short story by Sha’Tara]

I’m thinking about those scarecrows alone out there in the fields of yore, abandoned to the extremes of winter storms, half buried under snow drifts, no birds to speak to, to speak of.  Must be pretty lonely, huh?

Yes, it is quite lonely.  I happen to be one of them.  The one thinking of scarecrows also.

The last wagon with the last team, wallowing under a heavy load of straw rolled past some weeks ago now.  It didn’t stop to pick me up. I don’t blame it.  Or the horses for not stopping.  It was late, getting dark and horses cold and hungry.  As were the people, the makers, the creators, those strange creatures that try to make us look like them so we’d be very, very scary.  As long as the illusion lasts, we are indeed scary individuals, all dressed in their hand-me-downs, pretending to wave our arms.  Sometimes they even nail a stick to our arms so we look like we have a gun.

It’s full winter now.  My second in this field.  I have lots of time to think, alone in the snow, my feet frozen into the ground, icicles dangling from my golden straw fingertips.

Do scarecrows dream?  When I was young, my outfits not quite so ratty, my head in better shape, I could actually dream.  I was told in a dream that winter was a great time to meditate on my purpose in life, that I’d be too busy come spring and summer to do much thinking.  My problem is, having a head stuffed with old newspapers and assorted rags that my information and ability to think is somewhat straitened.  You try it, you’ll see.  Still I was able to record or remember that dream.

Thinking?  Yes, I do try.  What else is there to do?  I don’t feel very much of anything.  The scenery doesn’t change and I can’t turn my head.  I’m not sure that what I hear I actually hear.  Could be something I imagine. I’ve never managed smell though I know about it.  A young bald eagle sat on my shoulder once and he was repeating some lessons he was learning.  “Soar, stare down, smell, dive, cling, kill, tear into.”  Eagle talk, I suppose.  I’m just glad I don’t smell like anything so he didn’t use me for practice.

Here I stand, my left sleeve from an old faded red shirt torn open to the elbow, waving in a stiff northern breeze, my brown fedora hat with the hole in the top partially covering my eyes, my coat slipped off the left shoulder and my right arm dislocated and dangling at right angles down from its elbow.  I guess I make a pathetic figure, unless you’re also a scarecrow but I’d be willing to bet if I had anything to bet with that you’re not.  You’re probably one of our creators in fact. I could say a thing or two about your skills at creativity but I don’t have that authority.  I’ll just think it.

The sky is darkening again.  There’s going to be another blizzard tonight, I can tell, if I had anyone to tell to.  The cold has granulated the snow and its hisses by as if it were angry at something.  Maybe it is.  I don’t see the point of getting angry, everything dies in the end; the snow melts, however much it hardens itself in little ice balls and my skeleton of cheap reject wood will rot.  They might burn me.  That’s a thought.  It’s so cold right now that burning doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.  I didn’t know until now that bad ideas made any sound.  I’m learning something new every day, even when I’m just thinking.

Day after the blizzard.  There’s more snow in the field, all in shiny icy waves where the wind cleared the crust and the low winter sun strikes its surface.  It’s pretty, even if I’ve seen this a hundred or more times.  The wind has gone south, where it seemed so intent on going last night.  I hope it finds what it was looking for, or chasing after.  I don’t speak wind so when I asked it didn’t answer.  It just moaned around my body and tried to tear my clothes off. That’s the wind for you.  No sense of decency.  But I feel pretty proud of myself, I hung on and only lost one suspender button.  My coveralls are still holding up.

Hey, how about that.  I distinctly hear some chirping to my right.  Closer now.  I feel a presence or more than one on my shoulder.  Snow buntings.  Hi little guys, I try to say to them, I’m so glad you are back this year.  Are you OK?  Finding enough to eat under the hedgerows?  You aren’t cold, are you?  If you are, you can huddle under my hat for a while.  I’d like to hear about your adventures in other fields, if you’ve met any of my folks?  I rattle on like this and I think, as much as I can think, that they hear me because they huddle under my hat and go to sleep.

Now I remember.  I was supposed to meditate on my purpose in life.  Only I don’t know what meditating involves.  I think it’s beyond me.  Anyway, my purpose, that’s simple enough.  In summer, pretend to scare away the crows.  Not that I want to scare anything away, quite the opposite, but that’s what they made me for.  In winter, shelter little birds. Otherwise watch, listen, observe and store it up in those old newspapers.  Who knows but someone who knows how to read may take my head apart some day, read through those old newspapers  and learn something from me.

That’s an interesting thought, don’t you think?  I mean, if there was a you and you were here to listen to me and think with me.  I’ll just pretend.  Pretending is OK when you’re completely happy and fulfilled.

Sincerely, Racso the scarecrow from the eastern half section. Sorry, I don’t have any other address.

Take my Hand, Daddy! a short story by Sha’Tara

By way of intro to this short story, first I wish to say “thank you” for all the likes on the other stories, essays, etc. as they tumbled into this place.

I’ve been very busy lately on a volunteer job in the interior of B.C. (Canada), a place called “Rock Creek” where a wild fire roared through a year ago and burned down several homes.  So I went with my friend Vic Janzen, who is with “Mennonite Disaster Services” to help complete a house the organization had taken on in conjunction with “Habitat for Humanity.”  “We” (that is, MDS) supplied the labour and Habitat supplied the materials along with whatever the uninsured home owners could provide.  So the house was built, and this is what it looked like when we left yesterday.  A very pretty, basic, utilitarian house any family would be happy to live in.  If you look closely you can see the scorched dead pines all around the property.  (The pile of bags is insulation to be blown into the attic later.) 

IMG_0148-e-resized

Rock Creek MDS and Habitat house.

And now, the short story: 

Take my Hand, Daddy!           [a short story ~ by Sha’Tara]

Imagine a winter afternoon of this northern hemisphere, by a small town nestled almost silent among dark, brooding mountains.  The sun slips behind a mountain top and a shadow covers the waters of a wide river rippled by a bitter east wind.  A couple of golden eyes land and begin their usual systematic team hunt, diving, surfacing, diving.  These little ducks know their world well, choosing areas near enough to shore to take advantage of gentler, swirling currents, allowing them to dive faster and capture their prey, small fish also using the constantly reforming whirlpools to find food.

The edge of the river is forming ice now, not deep nor wide, but the bite of winter frost is not only in the air: it penetrates into the dark, fast moving waters.  The shore at this place, now cut through by the harsh shadow of a mountain, is made up of round rocks, large at the edge of the water, an edge normally under water – but this is winter solstice and the river is at its ebb.  Further up the shore the rocks change to large round gravel, then up the banks, into smaller, looser gravel.  Remnants of a recent snow fall tuck themselves behind and between the stones and form a dirty white blanket full of tears and holes among frost-burned grasses along the higher banks.  Such a stage leaves no room for doubt as to the time of year being dramatized.

There is a small parking area here where I sometimes stop to eat my lunch, read, or just observe the passing of a time-slice and whatever event it may contain.  I like the quiet of the place and on this day, the weather being bitterly cold with high clouds keeping the air moist, few people care to stay around.  A couple of cars drive in but there is nothing exciting or colorful enough to keep anyone’s attention for long and the damp cold drives them away again.  The pair of ducks, the male a ball of sharp black and white patterns, the female of a uniform brown, are a bit perturbed by the few onlookers and choose to be safe, moving their theater of operations farther away from the shoreline.  

The sun has almost crossed the mountain top and the shadow slides across the river, revealing a lighter shade of water as the incessant chop refracts the slanted, weak, gold-tinged middle-afternoon sunlight.  Far to the east however, no clouds have yet appeared and the sun has unlimited vistas to illuminate.  The higher mountains throw off the glory-glow of their snow-covered spires to grace a clear icy-blue sky.  

There is a wide gravelly path that leads from the parking area down to the river’s edge. While it remains in the gray shadow cast by the mountains, a very large man wearing a black woolen toque, a heavy dark-red mackinaw jacket and faded jeans tucked into unlaced brown work boots begins to descend along the center of the path.  To his right walks a tiny girl child, wearing what looks like dark blue cord pants tucked into white boots.  She has on a pink parka and a pair of pink mittens with small pompoms attached dangling from the coat’s sleeves.  As the couple begins to walk over the loose gravel, the child gingerly extends her short arms to maintain balance.  The heavy-set man, hands pushed deep into the folds of his mackinaw, seems totally unaware of his tiny companion, lost, it seems, in his own thoughts.

The little girl struggles to follow him, obviously with great effort.  Finally, barely able to stand, she extends her left arm to the large man, the reddened fingers of her hand splayed to express her need for help. 

In my mind, the image freezes there, as if someone had pressed the pause button on the TV’s remote. 

The man ignores the child, the child holds out her hand, confident that the man will be moved to help her.  In that slice of time, I sense a re-enactment of billions of such events over history.  I feel the energies involved; the times when they worked and when they did not.  The abandoned, and the re-united.  The dead losers and the restored winners.  I see mankind’s drama endlessly moving up and down, like the tides.  I feel my own helplessness, kicked out of the drama to find my place among the spectators of which we are too many.  

Does the man stop to take the child’s hand?  Does he pick her up in his arms to carry her to an easier place where she can walk without help?  Does he realize it is too cold to be walking there, at that time of day, with a child, and does he return to wherever they came from?  

All I heard in my mind was the child’s extended arm saying: “Take my hand, daddy!”