Winter of extreme prejudice

Winter used to be the time when I wrote most of my poetry. There was something about a relentless, glittering, deadly season that fired up my anxieties to a pitch were poetry or catatonia were the only options. I recall lines like:

February mornings, it’s death outside the door, 25 below.
Tea water freezes in the kettle. The dog’s breath floats
in puffs above the hearthrug and crystallizes on the window.

"Ice," wood engraving. Artist: Greg Lago, Clayton, NY

“Ice,” wood engraving. Artist: Greg Lago, Clayton, NY


We could die here if those clouds hold snow.
Spring could find us like Spanish coins,
storm-flung on the beaches of Cuba,
hung from the ears of women for luck.


When the ice goes out in the night, all at once,
like a hammer through a plate-glass window.

For the last number of years though, winters have been puppy chow in the North Country–starting late, ending early, and having a certain lack of murderous enthusiasm in between.

But this year, finally, we have a winter of extreme prejudice, an old-time horror show of a season. And you know what? I can’t say I like it.

Anxiety just doesn’t float my boat like it used to. I look up at all that ice up on the roof, and it nags at me. I look at the Adirondack chairs frozen into the side yard permafrost and think–poor husbandry of resources.

Fortunately, my nerves were soon soothed. We had a bit of a thaw, and with a sound not unlike the end of the world, all that ice came off in a single sheet and crushed the Adirondack chairs to kindling. No more worries–mischief managed.

I guess I’ll have to look elsewhere for topics poetical. The polar vortex is dead to me.


12 Comments on “Winter of extreme prejudice”

  1. If you only lost your lawn chairs you are lucky. We had a skylight ripped loose and out metal chimney is bent. I hear that some people lost masonry chimneys to ice sliding off their roof. Winter of extreme prejudice indeed. Aside from ’98 this is the earliest I’ve ever been sick of winter.

  2. Pete Klein says:

    The things I hate most about winter are rain, freezing ran and thaws.
    It should never go above freezing between Dec. 1 and April 1.
    I welcome snow and below freezing temps any time of the year.
    If it were not for 24 hours of darkness, I would love to live far enough north to get the weather I like.

  3. Jane W says:

    Thumbs way up for this one. By the time I got to the crushed Adirondack chairs I was laughing out loud. Thanks for brightening up my day!

  4. Lovely words and crystal clear-and-cold images. They warm my ears and eyeballs with humor.

  5. Iamhere says:

    “chosen”….as for our path…where …when…how…and with whom….
    out come is as what is…..
    acceptance is a new spring….
    resentment is a call worst than death???????
    I have chosen the the North Country…..

  6. Mark Scarlett says:

    Your apt response to our winter so far brings to mind the dire conditions described by Robert Burns, whose sufferings through the “Little Ice Age” of the 1780’s he described so aptly in “Winter: A Dirge.” If he cannot truly enjoy the “heartless day,” he prays, at the least, for the blessed relief of resignation.

    The wintry west extends his blast,
    And hail and rain does blaw;
    Or the stormy north sends driving forth
    The blinding sleet and snaw:
    While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
    And roars frae bank to brae;
    And bird and beast in covert rest,
    And pass the heartless day.

    “The sweeping blast, the sky o’ercast,”
    The joyless winter day
    Let others fear, to me more dear
    Than all the pride of May:
    The tempest’s howl, it soothes my soul,
    My griefs it seems to join;
    The leafless trees my fancy please,
    Their fate resembles mine!

    Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
    These woes of mine fulfil,
    Here firm I rest; they must be best,
    Because they are Thy will!
    Then all I want-O do Thou grant
    This one request of mine!-
    Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
    Assist me to resign.

    Better than resignation, some of us in Rossie look forward to the even happier reward that winter brings with the celebration of The Great Bard’s birthday on January 25. The thought hereabouts warms the cockles of even the coldest heart. 🙂

  7. Nancy G says:

    My day needed brightening, too. Your Adirondack kindling story deserves to be shared with my 3 North-Country-brought-up sibs.

  8. Kim Bouchard says:

    Thank you, Dale! I just found time to read the blog and like Jane, laughed out loud with a slight whimper. My Adirondack chairs are also embedded in a couple of inches of ice– in my garage! Woe to the freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw cycles of Xtreme northern climes for all of us with garages downhill from the road…

  9. Anita says:

    Dale, you made me laugh out loud as well! Thanks, I needed that.

  10. connie says:

    During the Monday thaw, my garage flooded – about 4″ deep in water. During the night the door froze down – solid. Finally got it open yesterday and it’s staying open till the next thaw. Winter’s neither fun nor pretty anymore.

  11. Evelyn says:

    Our sincere condolences on the loss of your Adirondack chairs. Anyway, as you say, you’ll have kindling.

  12. michael owen says:

    The Polar Vortex LOL. It’s like education, think no child sucks? Rename it Common Core. Don’t like Global Warming? Call it Climate Change…or a Polar Vortex.

Comments are closed.