Winter’s End, Poem by Howard Moss

Magnolia Monday

Sharing a poem that acts as a salve to this winter’s bleakness.

I found “Winter’s End” by Howard Moss on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. My father used to tune in to Garrison Keillor’s radio show, so I have memories of listening to Keillor tell stories. This poem was published by © Atheneum in New Selected Poems. Spring starts March 20.

Winter’s End

Once in a wood at winter’s end,
The withered sun, becoming young,
Turned the white silence into sound:
Bird after bird rose up in song.
The skeletons of snow-blocked trees
Linked thinning shadows here and there,
And those made mummy by the freeze
Spangled their mirrors on cold air.
Whether they moved — perhaps they spun,
Caught in a new but known delight —
Was hard to tell, since shade and sun
Mingled to hear the birds recite.
No body of this sound I saw,
So glassed and shining was the world
That swung on a sun-and-ice seesaw
And fought to have its leaves unfurled.
Hanging its harvest in between
Two worlds, one lost, one yet to come,
The wood’s remoteness, like a drum,
Beat the oncoming season in.
Then every snow bird on white wings
Became its tropic counterpart,
And, in a renaissance of rings,
I saw the heart of summer start.

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Learning About Lapland

Image source: Orange Smile

The first time I posted about Lapland was when my daughter Morgan contributed animation to a very cool six-and-a-half-minute video. Available on Vimeo, “Santa is a Psychedelic Mushroom” explores Laplandic folklore surrounding the origin of Santa.

Another daughter, who is currently studying abroad, spent the weekend in Lapland. She flew from Madrid to Helsinki and from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, with the goal of seeing the Northern Lights. She and her friends crossed into the Arctic Circle by riding on a giant sled pulled by a snowmobile! Fun!

Cool Lapland Facts:

  • Arctic Circle “The Arctic Circle is a circle of latitude that runs 66°33′45.9″ north of the Equator. It marks the southernmost latitude where the sun can stay continuously below or above the horizon for 24 hours–these phenomena are known as the Midnight Sun in the summer and the Polar Night (“Kaamos”) in the winter.” https://www.visitrovaniemi.fi/love/arctic-circle/
  • Midnight Sun “Because almost all of Lapland lies above the Arctic Circle, summer means that the sun (or more accurately daylight) doesn’t go away for between two and four months, depending on how north you venture. In northernmost Finland, the sun just circles in the sky all day and all night. Farther south, the sun may dip behind the fells or trees, but the sky remains bright.” https://www.lapland.fi/visit/only-in-lapland/land-of-the-midnight-sun/

  • Polar Night “Polar night happens only in the far north and south, and only during the magnificent Arctic winter. Sometime around late November, the northernmost reaches of Lapland get their first taste of polar night when the sun struggles more and more every day to rise. Until one day it doesn’t. Instead, the horizon simply glows for a few hours at midday. Virtually all of Lapland sees polar night by the solstice, December 21. As the snow piles up, January and February offer stunning polar night and polar twilight vistas, as the blank white landscape reflects the deep warm colors of midday. In late January, the sun finally returns for a few minutes above the northern border, marking the end of true polar night in Lapland.” https://www.lapland.fi/visit/only-in-lapland/polar-night-colors-magical-time/

Unfortunately, there was too much cloud cover so my daughter didn’t see the Northern Lights. Maybe another time. And maybe I can come!

Hon, have you seen the Northern Lights? Where did you travel?

Traveling to see the Northern Lights on a giant sled pulled by a snowmobile.

Campfire in the Arctic Circle.

Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes

Image source: Kalyn’s Kitchen

When the temperature dips below 20 degrees F and we’re covering our faces not because of a virus, but because our cheeks may freeze, hot comfort food is in order! I’ve posted recipes for Vegetarian Chili and Beef Chili, but Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes is my new favorite warm-up-in-cold-weather recipe. I made this Turkey Chili in a crockpot, but it can be cooked on a stove. Have extra? Freeze it for another-ummm–chilly day. Do you make Turkey Chili? Do you add sweet potatoes? Have suggestions for other ingredients to add?

Stay warm, hon.

Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans tomatoes (I used one can diced tomatoes and one can crushed tomotoes)
  • 1 (16-ounce) can red kidney beans
  • 1 cup water or 1/2 cup beef broth and 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder (adjust if you like things more or less spicy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder (yup–cocoa powder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper

Directions:

1.  Brown ground turkey.

2.  Place browned turkey and remaining ingredients in crock pot, stirring to blend.

3.  Cover and cook on low setting 6 hours.

Don’t have a crock pot?  Don’t worry.

1.  In a frying pan, saute ground beef and onions until soft.

2.  Drain off fat.

3.  Transfer mixture to a large pot.

4.  Add remaining ingredients.

5.  Bring to a boil, them simmer, covered, approx. 45 minutes. Chili’s ready when sweet potatoes can be sliced easily.

Yield:  Approx. 8-10 servings.

Hosting for the Holidays Hot Cocoa Bar

Image source: Southbound Bride
Image source: In Fine Taste

Sweater Weather!

As soon as it gets dark at 5pm and morning frost hardens blades of grass, I crave a hot drink every night. Hot chocolate is my favorite winter aperitif, so when researching ideas for an upcoming magazine article on creative hosting ideas, my favorite idea was–you guessed it–a Hot Cocoa Bar!

Easy Kids Activity: Why not ask older kids and tweens to participate? Set up a separate table with a wintery tablecloth or a cleared countertop. Supply mugs and spoons, mix-ins and containers, and labels and markers, and let the kids set up the display with a place saved for the hot cocoa. After you add the hot drink, they can be in charge of introducing the Hot Cocoa Bar to the rest of the guests.

Perk of the “job?” They get first dibs!

Supplies and Ingredients:

  • mugs, saucers, spoons
  • carafe of cocoa or hot water and powdered cocoa
  • containers with or without labels
  • mix-ins such as cinnamon sticks, chocolate shavings, peppermint sticks, toasted coconut, crushed toffee or whatever are the fan favorites
  • whipped cream and marshmallows

Note: Depending on diet preferences, ingredients may be parve (dairy free), gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan.

Happy hosting, hon!

Lucy, the Snow “Bunny,” a Joyful Video

Lucy looking for her ball in the snow.
Lucy looking for her ball in the snow.

Some”bunny” loves the snow!

Whenever it snows, I tell Lucy, “You should live in Alaska!” Though ice crystals form on the tips of her fur, she self-insulates. Her puffed up fur keeps her body warm and making her paws look three times their normal size. She hops in the snow, herds anyone who sleds, and “helps” us shovel.

Want to see pure joy? Click “Snow Puppy” or hit the play button below.

Thanks for watching, hon!

 

Happy On a Hill, Short Video

Me and Lucy.

Me and Morgan.

Me and Hannah.

Welcoming Winter!

“I have this theory that people make an implicit decision as to whether they’re going to stay young and curious and interesting and interested, or whether they’re just going to let themselves age.”*

Living on a hill has its advantages and disadvantages. Disadvantages? Balls roll away, mud and ice makes it especially slippery, the garden’s on a slope, and climbing back up the hill in snow is a workout. Advantage? Being “the sledding house!”

I created this video after a blizzard in 2015, and it always make me smile.

Click link to to watch the one-minute video:  Snow Day/Blizzard 2015 

* Quote by Mitch Rothschild, Chief Executive of Vitals, a website that connects patients and doctors, from a 1/25/15 article in The New York Times.

**music on video, Paul Hardcastle-The Jazzmasters “See You in July”

Heartwarming Snow Day Letter

Liquid Copper, Curly Girl and Me.
Hannah, Morgan and me.

Hon, you know I love snow, especially when it blankets the ground, decorates the trees, and beckons us outside. Crisp, fresh, snow-in-the-sky air makes me so happy. There’s a certain scent before it snows and another when it’s crunchy under our boots. At home, we sled. On a mountain, we ski. This year, the first big snow is a gift to our pandemic-weary spirits–a call to go outside and play. Somehow, a letter from the superintendent of  Jefferson County Schools in West Virginia found its way to my in-box.

It’s fantastic!

 
 

 

Alien or Ice?

Photo care of foxnews.com

Have you heard about the enormous revolving circle of ice that mysteriously appeared in the Presumpscot River in Westbrook, Maine? Turns out there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this winter wonder. I found this Jan. 15 article by Karen Zraick in The New York Times informative and oh-so-funny!

A giant ice disk churning in a river that runs through the small city of Westbrook, Me., set off fevered speculation on Tuesday.

Was it an icy landing zone for aliens? A sign of impending doom? A carousel for ducks? (A handful were, in fact, enjoying the ride.)

The Boston Globe wrote that it was “like some type of arctic buzzsaw,” and residents hurried to the edges of the Presumpscot River to catch a glimpse.

Scientists say that ice disks are an unusual — but entirely natural — phenomenon that occurs when a pile of slush freezes in an eddy or a piece of ice breaks off from another and begins to rotate. As it turns, hitting rocks and water, the sides are shaved down.

Steven Daly, an expert in river ice hydraulics at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., said his agency generally got just one or two reports of rotating ice disks in the United States each year.

They’re not usually this big, though.

Kenneth G. Libbrecht, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., who has studied ice physics, said that most ice disks he had seen were in the 20- to 30-foot range. Local officials estimated that the Westbrook ice disk was about 300 feet across.

“It might be a world-record size, if anybody were keeping track,” Dr. Libbrecht said.

Tina Radel, the marketing and communications manager for the city, filmed a drone video after Rob Mitchell, a local business owner, alerted her to the remarkable sight on Monday. After posting it, she spent Tuesday fielding calls from reporters around the country.

It’s been an overwhelming reaction,” she said. “People are loving it.”

In fact, The Portland Press Herald noted the ice disk had Westbrook buzzing “almost as much as when city police spotted a giant snake eating a beaver in roughly the same location in June 2016.”

 TIME OUT!!  A what was doing what?! 

You can’t just go on with the article and leave this small detail hanging. I’m so distracted by the image of a giant snake eating a beaver, I’ve momentarily forgotten about the ice disk. I have so many questions: there are giant snakes in Maine? Just how giant is giant? Do snakes usually eat beavers? Were there no mice, chipmunks, take-out? Did the beaver’s family react? Did the beaver’s family continue building their dam or did they evacuate pronto? Has anyone seen the giant snake since? Were people worried for their small children and pets? Did the snake get a Twitter handle like the Short Hills Bear? (a young, male black bear eluded attempts to catch him, making him into a local celeb) Did the snake become a meme? I obviously need to more info!

Ok, I’m taking a breath…back to the ice disk…

Mr. Mitchell, who owns an air-conditioning business and another property on the riverfront, said that he, too, had never seen anything like the ice disk in 25 years in Westbrook.

He added that its size was changing — while it was bigger in the morning, it had shrunk by Tuesday afternoon, when the sun was strong and temperatures hovered in the mid-30s. (The forecast called for lower temperatures and snow later in the week.)

One constant: The ice disk kept moving, counterclockwise, at the pace of a brisk walk.

“It’s perfectly regular and uniform,” Mr. Mitchell said. “I don’t think you could engineer a machine to move it as smoothly.”

Update: Another landing spot for UFO’s/resting spot for ducks is forming. Check it out here: Giant Maine ice disk stops moving as another one forms

Icy Art

Lucy and I never know what we’ll find on our walks.

It snowed. It rained. It froze. 

My daughter asked, “What’s something both beautiful and terrifying?” Hubby said a lion. I said a tarantula. Today, when walking Lucy very carefully, I thought ice. It’s beautiful yet, also, terrifying for many people.

So, here’s to the beauty of ice…

….and to it melting quickly!

Branches outlined in ice.

Water frozen while flowing.

A rock covered by  an Impressionistic stippling effect.

Foam frozen in a pattern.

Ice and dirt create a puppy’s face.