In Praise of Snow: Photography & Two Poems (“Like Snowflakes” and “Awaken”) by Leslie Schultz

Winter Bicycle

I am not a rugged, outdoorsy, winter-camping type of person–not by a long shot–but I do find snow very beautiful. When I have lived in climates usually foreign to snow, I found that I longed for it, watched for it to fall.

Winter Observatory

In each snow-starved place where I’ve lived (the Oregon coast, Australia, Louisiana), I experienced one freakish, exciting, and memorable anomaly of snow-fall. When I lived in Portland, Oregon, schools were closed. Plows were brought down from Mount Hood but unpracticed drivers mounded the snow into the middle of thoroughfares, creating temporary barrier walls and hindering the flow of traffic. In the Blue Mountains of Australia, a family trip during the May school holidays (winter Down Under) found us shivering in thin sleeping bags in an uninsulated cabin, my brother coughing with what I remember as sudden-onset pneumonia, while stinging snowflakes whirled through the branches of the eucalyptus trees.  In Louisiana, where I lived for two winters during my graduate school days, a Christmas snowstorm hit while I, like many people in sub-tropical Lake Charles, were away; the plunging temperatures snapped the exposed pipes of most houses in the historic district.

Winter Burn Barrels

When I moved to Minnesota in the fall of 1985,  there was an unseasonably early snow on September 17. I had just come from Louisiana, and I remember shivering in a coat without buttons, going out to purchase a scarf and a pair of red gloves.

Winter House

Today, a veteran of twenty-nine consecutive winters, I still have a healthy respect for the power of snow to remake–if temporarily–our assumptions about the way our days will proceed. We keep a long-handled broom on the front porch (to push fallen snow off the cars) along with snow shovels, sand, and salt. I think letter carriers deserve hazard pay for being out all day in the cold, but I still thrill to the beauty of the falling snow, the transformations it leaves behind.

Winter Heart Tree

And, for me, one reliable side benefit of the season of snow is more time and inclination to write, and never so much so as this year. After decades in which prose held literary sway in my life–either non-fiction for clients or fiction commitments for me–this year, poems are arriving thick and fast. Recently, many have centered on snow and ice.

Here are two poems, the first written yesterday, the second written in 1980 while I was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin and published first in Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar: 1982 and in my chapbook, Living Room (Midwestern Writers’ Publishing House, 1981).

Winter Saturn

Like Snowflakes

A hush, a storm,
a gentle arrival—
poems come in their season,
transform the landscape
of my life—
ah, the dazzle
of that fresh page—white—
with slight patterns—
bird-foot, cat-foot, wind—
and the sculptures
of ink-blue shadows.

Leslie Schultz  (2014)

Winter Blue Shadow

Winter Tracks

Awaken

to find my house afloat,
pitched on an ocean
of foam-flecked fields.
My breath dissolves a porthole.
The barn is sinking.
Cows break waves with their bellies,
monsters of the deep,
leaving trails of wake.
The wind has died;
its roar is small as a hollow shell.
The prairie is lashed,
capped with white,
washed stiff as fence posts.

Leslie Schultz (1981)

Winter Trunk

Winter Arbor Vitae

Winter Mailbox Trim

Signature2

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4 thoughts on “In Praise of Snow: Photography & Two Poems (“Like Snowflakes” and “Awaken”) by Leslie Schultz

  1. Me, too! And what is amazing is that is in not the shadow of any structure, but just the result of the sculpture of the snowdrift and fall of the light that day. But yes! The hauntingly beautiful shape of the onion dome is here on the prairie sometimes!

  2. Leslie, I loved the poems!! The image of the ink-blue shadow on the photograph reminds me the Russian church onions…

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