CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree…
Joyce Kilmer’s Trees was one of the first poems I ever memorized, partly because we sang it at Lucretia Mott Public School # 3 in Indianapolis, partly because it was short and simple, mostly because it rang true to me.
I learned the incorrect version, of course, since we sang it. Kilmer closed it with: Poems are written by fools like me, but only God can make a tree. The song version says: Poems are made by fools like me…
I knew more about poems than trees, though, living in the inner city of Indianapolis. It was only when we moved to a farm near Oakland City, Indiana, when I was ten, that I really began to understand trees, and to appreciate them.
My father was a good shade-tree botanist. He was an outdoorsman. He knew animals and plants. He could name trees.
On the farm, I learned to love trees and plants, except for the ones I had to hoe in the garden, but I rarely learned their names. I learned the ones everyone knew--maples, oaks, willows, apple trees at certain times of year. I never learned to tell a hickory from an ash, though. All that was really important about a tree, it seemed to me, was the shade.
The summers in southern Indiana were long and hot and humid. Life was physical and sweaty. We carried water and fire wood in and out. We heated water on a wood stove and washed clothes in a wringer washer and hung them on a line. We hoed and canned vegetables. We had no air conditioning. We did have electricity, but only one old-fashioned slow-moving fan.
In our front yard, we had shade trees—big maples. The front yard was open on all sides except for the house. There was almost always a breeze. When the heat became too much, I would flop down on the grass in the front yard, in the shade of those leafy maples, and feel the breeze.
We are moving back to sit in the shade of those trees, where the leaves come early, full of promise, and linger late, resplendent in their many hues. But as the first spring buds appear on trees here in the Upper Peninsula, I realize that I shall miss the trees of winter, when long black limbs stand stark against the snow and lowering winter light.
Trees are beautiful in spring and summer and autumn, in the fullness of their leaves, but in winter, we see the trunk and the limbs in their bare splendor. In winter we see the permanent beauty of what allows the seasonal beauty to spring forth.
John Robert McFarland
I don't know why blogger decided to separate the two Kilmer lines at the start of this post, or use a different font for the second, but it is an interesting look...
The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP], where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]
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