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QUINTESSENCE

Hush all the fields


NOW CLOSE THE WINDOWS
Now close the windows and hush all the fields:
If the trees must, let them silently toss;
No bird is singing now, and if there is,
Be it my loss.

It will be long ere the marshes resume,
It will be long ere the earliest bird;
So close the windows and not hear the wind,
But see all wind-stirred.

- Robert Frost, "A Boy's Will," 1913

An "Arctic blast" has swept in from northern Canada, blanketing the Northwest in snow and below zero temperatures. The storms are to continue on through the next few days, hopefully then to break into sun on Thanksgiving. As I write, the blizzard winds have ceased, and in their wake, a silence, heavy as the berms of snow banked against the house. The path worn by the dog chasing the gray squirrels that feast on the red fruit of the crab apple is erased. Blanketed under drifts of sharply angled snow.

Last night we shoveled in the bitter cold, bundled in hats and gloves, wooly mufflers softening our laughter as the dog ran under foot nipping at the edge of the snow shovels. The night sky was something to behold. Black as glass. Shards of ice scintillate in the vast dark. This the drift of distant galaxies? One falling star but one of a thousand diamonds lost. The dog is laughing now, his beard a carpet of snow balls. Our work done, the cocoa cups put away, the fire damped and boots drying by the door, the house falls asleep as the wind settles into the eaves. As the storm rages over our heads and the timbers of the house creak in the cold, I snuggle into the warm breath of love and think, This, this is joy.

The morning house smells of ginger cookies and warm oatmeal. The quail in the back yard search for seed, kicking the snow into sprays of white mist. Sun glints from the snow fields. The dazzling white blinds me as I pause, again armed with the shovel. I think, This, this is joy.

The days of gathering in the kitchen are upon us. We come together, preparing a feast of love, a feast for loving, a feast for thankfulness and the presence of grace. I count blessings, looking up as white-bellied geese skim the tips of the pines, beating away into an impossibly blue sky. Hush all the fields, and listen.

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