“Half on wing, / And half on foot, they brush the fleecy flood, / Conscious, and fearful of too deep a plunge. / The sparrows peep, and quit the shelt’ring eaves / To seize the fair occasion.”
We refill the bird feeder every afternoon. When I step inside, the pine warblers are the first to return, sometimes ten or twelve at a time. The squirrels scavenge on the ground below for seed fallen on the snow. Then the mockingbird, a red-headed woodpecker, blue jays and cardinals. Their feeding looks frantic. When the sun is out, you see a cloud of seeds and husks – falling leftovers for the squirrels. Weeks ago, a hummingbird and butterflies visited the front garden.
“In such a palace poetry might place
The armoury of winter; where his troops,
The gloomy clouds, find weapons, arrowy sleet,
Skin-piercing volley, blossom-bruising hail,
And snow that often blinds the traveller’s course,
And wraps him in an unexpected tomb.”
We haven’t lost power but as of Tuesday, more than 4.4 million people in Texas were without electricity. Neighbors have frozen pipes. One, with three boys under ten, has a frozen toilet. Another helped wrap our pipes and loaned us a space heater to keep the pipes to the sink in the back bathroom from freezing. We've been without water since Tuesday afternoon, like several million others in Texas. I wear a jacket indoors and sometimes gloves. Mid-afternoon the temperature peaks in the mid-twenties. In some areas, it drops to ten or fifteen degrees overnight. Another ice storm is predicted. This doesn’t happen at this latitude.
“The night was winter in his roughest mood,
The morning sharp and clear; but now at noon
Upon the southern side of the slant hills,
And where the woods fence off the northern blast,
The season smiles, resigning all its rage,
And has the warmth of May.”
Not likely any time soon, but a guy can hope.
[All quoted passages are taken from Book V, “The Winter Morning Walk,” and Book VI, “The Winter Walk at Noon,” of William Cowper’s book-length poem The Task (1785).]