Welcome Winter

In the bleak midwinter, frost wind made moan, 
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Very short days - daylight that is - usually brings about more than its share of activity. "Time's awasting" so to speak.  I stumbled on an interesting website (there is one for everything now) and Christina Rosetti's (remember the Rosetti family from English Lit? Dante, Christina, William and Maria and a mom related to Lord Byron?  That one?  Oh well. 

Ages ago a bunch of us took off to northern Michigan to ski after an early cold snap.  One of our crowd had a relative with a summer home outside of Mackinaw City, Michigan - essentially as far north as you can go before you run into the waters where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet.  60 years ago you crossed it by ferry and then they built the bridge in 1957 so the ferries only go to Mackinaw Island but I digress.  If you drove north and missed the last exit you crossed the bridge as there was no turn around and in the bleak middle winter there was just forward.  This is the view back across the bridge this morning on the 50th anniversary of our trek.

That morning there was too much wind for skiing so we had gone into town for food (a dozen of us consumed a lot of food) and would head out for skiing later in the morning.  The cabin/cottage was cold of course and right on the lake (Michigan).  A wood stove provided the heat as did a fireplace that was roaring as I remember it but it really wasn't meant for winter but part of the adventure of being 19 and out and away from home.

A few of us went for a walk at the shore to look at the waves, turning back fairly promptly because of cold, snow and blowing sand.  The area - that area of Michigan was settled a very long time ago as there was a fort built at the far end of the bridge.  This is the area of Pierre (Father) Marquette and Europeans were plodding around here from the middle 17th century onward.   It struck us all, and we talked about, that the cabin would have been considered a palace 300 years earlier - unimaginable comforts and shelter and what was an adventure to us, college kids, spending money on skiing of all things - and the beach in front presented the same view then as it probably did when trappers living near the fort came out for their daily catch in 1670 or so.  If you didn't save enough food or had a poor harvest to begin with this part of time, Thanksgiving, wasn't spent in excess but in hording and rationing food, a few good hunts before the snow got too deep and travel became impossible, a time before the ice locked everything in and you could chop a hole so one could ice fish and perhaps, just perhaps get something fresh to eat.

Most striking to me was the color of it.  You see it now and then with blowing snow and a low sun.  It isn't dark, just grey - the world through blunted sight.  All detail washes away at times like that. Trees are forms.  The water blends into the horizon and into the sky without a break.  In the bleak midwinter long long ago.