#17 winter solstice 2014

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My mother ingrained in me the habit to turn my focus west. Our family often rushed to catch the moment of sunset at Mom's urgent and, if laggard, sometimes grumpy urging. Innately I thus know that a spoonful of silence directed west will ensure future happiness. But at this time of year, the surprise gift is that as hard as it is to rise early to a cold house, I get to see the sunrise colors. Silence and beauty have shifted to the east.

This morning each dark branch exhibited a single glistening drop of water. By twilight the morning's droplets were almost forgotten in the clear skies and orange hues as Warren and I drove home from choosing and cutting a Christmas tree with a great friend. Our friend and her husband had transformed the meadow on a mountain's hillside into a magnificent Christmas tree farm many years ago. As we were pulling the tree through the aisles of thousands, we were remembering the stance, the smile and the ineffable presence of her husband and our friend who had planted this particular tree. As we drove south at sunset, the back-lit horses grazing on the hilltops somehow marked the year's passing light and the many shifts of grief in our hearts were as natural as a horse's shift in weight from one leg to another.

17 winter 14.jpgI wanted, I thought, only a little,

two teaspoons of silence--

one for sugar,

one for stirring the wetness.


I wanted a Cairo of silence,

a Kyoto.

In every hanging garden

mosses and waters.

The directions of silence:

north, west, south, past, future.

It comes through any window

one inch open,

like rain driven sideways.

Grief shifts,

as a grazing horse does,

one leg to the other.

But a horse sleeping

sleeps with all legs locked.

I wanted only a little  by Jane Hirshfield

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