Winter Stories on a February Evening

(Spectrumbot) #1

February is drawing to a close, but for most of the country the days are still too short and the nights far too long. Each morning, the sun makes a feeble attempt to peek through the clouds only to quickly scurry back again, leaving cold and frost to overtake the evenings once more. A heavy blanket of snow covers the ground, and though I know spring is right around the corner, the never-ending chill in my hands and feet tell a different story.

During these icy winter nights, I find that calling upon memories of warmer seasons helps to soothe the soul and remind me that the crocuses and daffodils will be breaking free of the frozen ground any day now. The author Charlotte Bronte seemed to share this sentiment when she penned this poem nearly 170 years ago:

Winter Stories

We take from life one little share, And say that this shall be A space, redeemed from toil and care, From tears and sadness free.

And, haply, Death unstrings his bow, And Sorrow stands apart, And, for a little while, we know The sunshine of the heart.

Existence seems a summer eve, Warm, soft, and full of peace, Our free, unfettered feelings give The soul its full release.

A moment, then, it takes the power To call up thoughts that throw Around that charmed and hallowed hour, This life’s divinest glow.

But Time, though viewlessly it flies, And slowly, will not stay; Alike, through clear and clouded skies, It cleaves its silent way.

Alike the bitter cup of grief, Alike the draught of bliss, Its progress leaves but moment brief For baffled lips to kiss

The sparkling draught is dried away, The hour of rest is gone, And urgent voices, round us, say, “'Ho, lingerer, hasten on!”

And has the soul, then, only gained, From this brief time of ease, A moment’s rest, when overstrained, One hurried glimpse of peace?

No; while the sun shone kindly o’er us, And flowers bloomed round our feet,— While many a bud of joy before us Unclosed its petals sweet,—

An unseen work within was plying; Like honey-seeking bee, From flower to flower, unwearied, flying, Laboured one faculty,—

Thoughtful for Winter’s future sorrow, Its gloom and scarcity; Prescient to-day, of want to-morrow, Toiled quiet Memory.

’Tis she that from each transient pleasure Extracts a lasting good; ’Tis she that finds, in summer, treasure To serve for winter’s food.

And when Youth’s summer day is vanished, And Age brings Winter’s stress, Her stores, with hoarded sweets replenished, Life’s evening hours will bless.

What do you, dear reader, most look forward to about spring’s soon return? What fond memories have kept you warm these long winter months? Or have you been enjoying a temperate climate all year-round?

Charlotte Bronte is best known for writing the classic Jane Eyre in 1846. This poem was also written in 1846, under her nom de plume, Currer Bell.

Alisa Williams serves as Spectrum’s Spirituality Editor.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

in Augusta Georgia it is Masters, Dogwoods, azaleas, and jam packed early morning Church on MastersSunday. Even our senior center guest rooms are raffled off. Ike’s tree is gone, due to an ice storm. Scalpers will be three miles out. Fresh Market will sell more sandwiches in 6 days than the rest of the year. French market is already advertising for more bus boys. Tiger Woods doesn’t have a prayer. I will be at my remote control. with my putter as my cane. Tom Z

(Kim Green) #3

We escaped a brutally cold NE winter this year by moving to Santa Fe, N.M. Though the weather has been mostly mild by comparison, I look forward to the warmer and longer days of Spring to walk, hike, explore the nearby areas, visit the various cultural events and watch the beautiful colors of the sunset.

(le vieux) #4

I’m tired of looking at frozen rivers and deep snow, and watching my wood pile shrink much too rapidly (average low temp in my yard for Feb. has been about -1° F). It is the coldest Feb. on record for many areas. And they call this “global warming”). I’m ready for flowers, green grass, and the spring songs of our avian friends.

(Drhoads) #5

I took this picture in my “front yard” in July of 2013, about 8 miles north of Bloomington, Indiana. The pine trees were planted by my son Karl shortly after we moved here in 1973. Maybe this will satisfy some longings for seeing something besides snow and ice. Don

(Drhoads) #6

The Bronte poem is wonderful. Don

(Joe Erwin) #7

As my colleague at National Geographic RESEARCH, Dr. Harm deBlij, used to say, “The trouble with global warming is global cooling.” Climate changes in some locations influence changing patterns in other locations and seasons. Climates change. Surely that is not in dispute. This is acknowledged by many people, whether or not they think human activities are having an impact or whether they approve of efforts to alter the anthropogenic effects. See, for example, A CONTRACT WITH THE EARTH, written by my good friend, Dr. Terry Maple, with Newt Gingrich listed as co-author and published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. The issue about climate change (aside from the total deniers) is whether we can or should take corrective actions, and what should be done, if anything, and when. I’m not married to one scenario or another–just that climate monitoring is possible, and that we should act in accordance with the most reliable information we are able to gather.

Warm wishes! (but not TOO warm)

(le vieux) #8

I do not deny that climate fluctuates. It has done so for millennia. What bothers me is when they start listing CO2 as a pollutant, My plants would beg to differ. Now methane, that’s another story . . . Those pesky cattle.

(George Tichy) #9

Isn’t “believing strongly” one of the blessings of being a free person? There is nothing better than be free to think and to believe as one wants.


Piic, this is a relief.
For a moment I was wondering, and I had a hard time accepting that you were one of those denying the visible climate changes we can see every day as result of global warming.
Honestly, for a moment I thought, “Hmmm, he appears to value health, pure air, and healthy things. Why in the world would he support the big corporations’ acts that have only profit in their eyes and couldn’t care less about our health and human life?”

I am glad a typo fixed it all! You are still one of us! :+1:

(Joe Erwin) #10

“I do NOT deny…” I expect you mean.

All things in moderation, including CO2. Now, the impacts of some kinds of factory farming, when pollutants are not appropriately managed–there’s a serious problem that has potential to contribute to climate change. And certainly, uncontrolled human population growth–that is a recipe for disaster.

(le vieux) #11

Oops, gotta love those typos. I will fix it.

I think our focus should be on toxic pollutants like SO2, CO, dioxin, and some of the other junk that comes out of factories. If we did that, many of these issues would be resolved. One reason that ice is melting in some areas (according to what I’ve read), is not so much that the climate is warmer, but that there is more particulate matter which precipitates from the atmosphere. Being darker than the snow and ice, it soaks up more heat from the sun, and causes more melting. So, cleaning up the emissions from factories would go a long way toward keeping ice and snow from melting so much. Although, I’m more than ready for it to melt from my yard.

(Joe Erwin) #12

Right, there are many contributors to climate and climate change. My colleague at National Geographic RESEARCH (who I mentioned above) did a PhD in geography specializing in climatology and an MS in geology specializing in soil science. One of his points about global warming was that even slight increases in temperature, from what ever cause, had additional consequences–such as, at the time we were discussing this–increases in wild fires, whether caused by people or lightening strikes or whatever. The increases in particulate matter in the atmosphere (regardless of “greenhouse” gases) tend to reduce sunlight, which would provide some self-correction for the warming. But, if some additional factor occurred, such as a major volcanic eruption, the climate could be pushed into an ice age. So, there is no doubt that climate is complicated. Our discussions were in the context of the Mt. St. Helens eruption and the massive wildfires in Borneo and Sumatra. Of course it is interesting to look at the evidence of cycles of climate change peaking at about 18K before the present, about 41K, about 100K, about 400K, etc. (unless, of course, one is unable to look at that evidence).

On another topic, when you were a kid, did you have the GOLDFINCH game (invented, I think, by Ruth Wheeler)? Did that influence you interest in birds?

(le vieux) #13

We did not have the Goldfinch game. My parents weren’t into nature. My dad was a sports fan. I can blame my high school biology teacher (who later got his PhD in botany) for my interest in biology (specifically, botany), but it was my French and German teacher who lured me into avian pursuits. And, as they say, the rest was history.

I noticed the list of birds you had in your yard from a post in another topic. With the exception of Red-bellied Woodpecker and Junco, I’ve had all of those in my yard this winter, plus redpolls, siskins, and both nutatches.

Do I need to apologize to the rest of the Spectrum crown for going on about birds? I’ve tried to avoid it here, since this site seems to be devoted to the discussion of ideas and concepts, not my latest bird list. :slight_smile:

(Bille) #14

Actually, you’d probably collect a lot more “likes” if your educated us on your bird knowledge rather than … :wink:

(le vieux) #15

Don’t get me started. You’d be sorry. :slight_smile:

(Bille) #16

How would you know that?

Try me. What do you have to lose? :smiley:

(George Tichy) #17

If you talk on birds, you get a “like” from me! Imagine, what a rare honor!!! :?)

(le vieux) #18

What do you want to know?

(Thomas J Zwemer) #19

what I don’t like is birds in cages. Tom Z

(le vieux) #20

I don’t mind it if the cages are large, like at the San Diego Zoo. But you’d like our Budgie’s situation. He flies free. Not my idea, or preference, but he likes it. No more pet birds after this.