Faint Whispers

Light snow is falling for the first time in almost and month. It likely won’t amount to more than an inch or so, still I welcome it and the fain hope it offers of a white Christmas. The female hairy woodpecker is already on the suet, and though I am clearly visible to her here on the sunporch, she allows me to move about without flying off. The Meyer lemon has a handful of blooms but the other plants look a bit worse for a week without care, water, or heat. But they hang on, and the pepper looks glorious covered in brilliant chilis even as its greenery withers.

The studio is barely 30 degrees after a week without a fire. I’ve built a good fire in the stove and hope it will get warm enough for me to be comfortable out there grading for the day. It seems a shame to be locked indoors with essays on such a lovely winter’s day, but they may surprise me. Some of the students have made great strides this term. Is it too much to hope for glimmers of brilliance?

The fire is making quite the symphony: the click-ticking of the metal stove pipe, the rush of air so like the sound of wind in a speeding boat, the pop and crackle of the wood with now and again a sudden hiss of steam or resin, and the ever anticipated yet always startling cracks that snap loudly like a branch breaking overhead to tumble through bare branches in the quiet of a snow-covered wood as snow sleeves collapse and shush in waves beneath. A log settles and flares with a burst of sparks upward and guttering.

I wonder whether it isn’t all these murmurings, these soft and varied pleadings that make a fire so very companionable, as soothing as the steady exhalations of a sleeping infant who now and again stirs with small peeps and whimpers, the faint whispers of a dream.

Photo by Gustavo Zambelli on Unsplash

Dec. 20, 2011

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