It looks to me as though the winter here in Columbia is drawing to a close. Staring out at the brown, bare forest I see the tiny branches beginning to get fuzzy. The birds are behaving differently; the sun seems to be rising earlier. Being from Texas I’m happy with hot weather, but I’ve learned to enjoy a cold season. When I came here just over two months ago there was snow on the ground, a rarity in Austin. I’ve enjoyed the clear, cold days filled with intense light. The fat hawks surveying a field from a large, white oak. I’ve learned from the close observation of nature to value this time of dormancy. Before it yields to the abundant energy of spring I would like to honor its passing with a poem from Wallace Stevens that I think has a lot to say about the implications of living a mindful life.
This poem spoke to me because I have been gifted with a “mind of winter” by being here in Columbia and by having learned to see not only my mind but also the mind of nature, and I have come to understand the ways in which they are the same.
The Snow Man
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.