It felt great to have a few warm March days after a very cold February. It was warm enough to finally bring in the Christmas lights that I strung around the yard during the last warm days in November. All the electric cords were buried under inches of snow and ice for months. John Greenleaf Whittier memorialize winter’s bite in this poem.
by John Greenleaf Whittier
All day the gusty north-wind bore
The loosening drift its breath before;
Low circling round its southern zone,
The sun through dazzling snow-mist shone.
No church-bell lent its Christian tone
To the savage air, no social smoke
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
A solitude made more intense
By dreary voiced elements,
The shrieking of the mindless wind,
The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind,
Of ghostly finger-tips of sleet.
Beyond the circle of our hearth
No welcome sound of toil or mirth
Unbound the spell, and testified
Of human life and thought outside.
We minded that the sharpest ear
The buried brooklet could not hear,
The music of whose liquid lip
Had been to us companionship,
And, in our lonely life, had grown
To have an almost human tone.
Many large groups of snow geese fly north in March. I live in the great middle-of-the-country flyway and get to hear their calls and watch them pass overhead. The flocks have some dark geese in their ranks that look like dark silhouettes in the sky. In researching snow geese, I learned these are unusual blue geese that look like shadows in the snow-white flock. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Snow_Goose/overview
The spring bug bit me for sure, but it was too early to work on the yard. The lawn showed signs of green as snow receded. The garden was still under a snow blanket. I planted a pot of lettuce in an unheated garden shed, placed it in a south window, and after a few days of sun through the window the seeds sprouted. A pot of spinach survived all winter in that space. In a few weeks, a salad.
I spent too much time sitting at my desktop or laptop during the pandemic year. I took classes, attended meetings, and participated in work groups via zoom on the laptop. I’m writing this blog entry on my desktop computer. However, I believe it’s possible to find ways to finish projects without sitting in front of computer screens.
Spring had special meaning this year after a year of Covid seclusion. I emerged from my home this spring like a tulip pushing through cold soil to feel the sun on my face.
March arrived like a lamb delivering a warm spell perfect for basking in warm sunshine, reading, and re-reading books I love like the books listed below that influence Twila Hansen, storied poet. She was Nebraska State Poet for five years and has many publications to her name. Randal Eldon Green interviewed Twila Hansen recently. In that interview he asked Twyla about books she considers important. https://helloauthor.substack.com/p/interview-with-twyla-hansen-2021?fbclid=IwAR2ZvPuk8aBcThJU80DjsSypujeIAICP6mCvOh7zrx9AjErTjUPp3auso6U
In no particular order, here are just a few books that have influenced Twila Hansen:
- American Primitive – Mary Oliver
- My Antonia – Willa Cather
- Giants in the Earth – O. E. Rolvaag
- Silent Spring – Rachel Carson
- Old Jules – Mari Sandoz
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
- Black Elk Speaks – John Neihardt
- The Unsettling of America – Wendell Berry
- A Sand County Almanac – Aldo Leopold
- Cottonwood County – William Kloefkorn and Ted Kooser
- The Solace of Open Spaces – Gretel Ehrlich
- Teodoro Luna’s Two Kisses – Alberto Rios
- Above the River – James Wright
- She Had Some Horses – Joy Harjo
- The Immense Journey – Loren Eiseley
The list of books that have influenced me is similar. During the winter of 2020, I read and reread Black Elk Speaks by John G. Neihardt. I am deeply interested in and impressed by Black Elk’s vision dream. I used time in Covid seclusion to craft a quilt with many elements from the vision applicated to a unique visual field.
I enjoy making quilt tops but usually take them to a professional quilter to do the actual quilting, as I have done with this quilt.
This is the finished quilt completed in March 2021.
Spring merges into summer quickly on the Great Plains. Temperatures range from minus twenty-five in February to ninety-five in early June. I wrote this poem to commemorate Black Elk’s vision, my quilt, and drought gripping the west in 2021. Today there is rain.
RAIN MAKER by Lin Marshall Brummels Summer heat, awake late, reading Black Elk Speaks, how Neihardt’s daughters’ record the sage’s words, for their father, Black Elk named Word Sender. My quilted dream version presumptuous perhaps in comfort of home these many years after John G sat around Black Elk’s campfire for months to hear him. Sleep evades as high pressure builds, I yearn for the right words for this poem, get out of bed, physically search for inspiration, find a drawer full of hair ribbons like rainbows Black Elk saw on mountain top after he called for rain, sky darkened, rain came, earned him title Rain Maker. Today Thunder Gods from the west sound off, warriors riding matching black horses, carry spears flashing lightning, bring much needed rain.