Out Divine Corners Way
by Jonathan Shimkin
The big storm blew through Sunday night into Monday morning – Martin Luther King Day – roaring with such intensity it woke us several times. It was like being in a wind tunnel, as, in some sense, we were: situated on high ground, with a natural windbreak of woods to the west, which helped to channel the wind around our cottage and down the slope of bare fields and lawns extending to the north – more of a wind corridor than tunnel. The trees and houses that stood directly on the open slope acted like the reeds in a woodwind instrument, adding their distinctive creaks and trills to the general cacophony. A set of wind chimes on our porch tinkled like mad until it was blown off its post. We found it in the morning, on the ground, covered in snow.
In this way, we were privy to “the sound of the wind… blowing in the same bare place” that Wallace Stevens’s snow man once heard. The sound announced the full force of winter’s arrival and let us know that it was time to cultivate a mind of winter to meet it.
The snow that fell was heavy, wet, and eight or nine inches deep. It gave all the plow guys pause, the type of snow that defies hydraulics and damages equipment. Late on Monday, a stalwart neighbor showed up with a small plow and managed to carve out enough space for us to move vehicles around in piecemeal fashion, like tokens on a checkerboard. By mid-afternoon a light rain had started falling and we were grateful to gain some leeway before the tall drifts and plowed heaps froze overnight.
This wasn’t the kind of snow you want to go out and frolic in; it weighed everything down. Last summer our garden had put forth collard greens of such stature – the size of small trees – that we left them standing at end of season; now the fan-like leaves were wilted and the stalks drooped like the stretchy vegetation in an early Disney cartoon. The collards looked comically doleful in the snow, while the fir trees bristled with glee in the frigid air. We surveyed the reduced palette of winter: the vegetation and grasses ran the gamut from dun to rust and back again, with bands of green between; the nude branches of the trees etched against the grey sky in the finest degree of lineation, making intricate designs that repaid the attention one gave them, with interest.
The wind moderated itself during the course of the Monday, to bouts of gusts and bluster; whatever wasn’t so weighed down that it couldn’t sway, swayed. Atop a nearby silo, an American flag flew with a horizontal tear across its middle, right at the lower edge of the blue canton. The wind set the flag’s two halves fluttering independently, in erratic fashion, and it looked like some sort of medieval pennant, asserting its sovereignty over the world below.
Jonathan Shimkin, writer and editor, may be contacted at email@example.com, or via his website: jonathanshimkin.weebly.com.]