Joel Glanzberg is the father of a young son. He writes how together they watched the sun begin its low angled circuit above the clear skies of New Mexico.
The other morning, my son and I bundled up and went for a walk before the sleepy winter sun came up over the mountain. Being three, he is up early every day and wakes me and his mom. I was grumpy this day and knew it was time to get outside. Nietzsche joked that in winter we all worship the black god of the stove, bowing before it as if in adoration, waiting for some enlightenment. It is so easy to huddle inside when it is cold and dark outside. It usually just makes me darker inside. So out into the cold grey dawn we went. Down the lane to the river, to where we turned east, upstream toward its source.
The stream was flowing hard from the snows melting at lower elevations and ice hung in thin sheets over still pools. The birds were up and about, fluffed up against the cold, flying about looking for breakfast. Everything was crisp with frost that crunched beneath our feet and sharpened my dull morning mind.
We played with stones, broke ice, studied remnant autumn leaves, and played with all the manifestations of water, both solid and liquid. One of the best parts of having a kid is getting to be like one again…but why do we need that excuse to be intimate with the natural world and feel the wonder?
It made me remember my own mother chasing me and my brother out of the house when we’d been inside too long, getting morose and antsy. Now it is my son getting me up and out. The world is beautiful and presents herself to us, ripe for the taking, but we are too often too busy or distracted for the harvest.
As we wound up along the tall cut bank where the swallows build their mud nests in the summer, we remembered how they fill the air with their swooping flight. We heard the sharp call of an eagle and looked up to see him, close and dark just over the tree tops, circling with the ravens who fussed at him. Lines of cars wended their way along the road, oblivious to their surroundings…as I too often am.
This golden and the redtailed hawk who visited us on our path home solidified my sense of the wonders I miss insulated inside cars, buildings, or the narrow confines of my life. Even the delicate patterns frozen on the willows told the same story. It made me want to tell myself and all my friends, “go outside, look around, it will clear out the dust and cobwebs in your head, bringing the clarity of cold. You cannot hold your breath all winter long.”
Grey and snowy today
the fire blooms
on my young son’s
he stares into the flames
a bear beside him
slippers on his feet
the house around us all
nestled in this valley
held and held
in layers of warmth
the snow gently drifting down
quiet and soft
– Joel Glanzberg