Poem: The Secret Life of Winter

The Secret Life of Winter

The snow is soft in the morning light,
soft in the morning fog.
A line of trees cuts the fields in front of you.
Steam rises off the creek.

You have built a still life,
simple. Peaceful, still moving,
like creek waters under the ice.
Unseen and relentless,

a strange combination
that has become natural to you,
comfortably invisible,
happy in the January light,

happy to wait for the change in seasons,
walking, seeing the signs,
the willows turning yellow, almost green,
new growth in the wood briars, sharp and red,

color in unexpected places.

Unexpected unless you have lived
through many winters,
growing stronger and wiser in each one,
learning finally that time is not king,

love and persistence rule
the secret life of winter.

About this poem

Regular readers know I have been very reflective the past week or two, looking back on life, both over the last year or two as well as many years back.

The last two years have been mostly lost years for me. Likely for many. Between the cancer, surgery, cancer again and treatments over the past few months, I have not had nearly the energy I am accustomed to. I do what I can, but it feels like nothing. Add to that Covid and the changes and restrictions it has put on all of us, and it has been a black time in many ways. I have survived. I have hopes as both wind down to normalcy, and real healing, of body and spirit, can begin.


I can remember another time, 15 years ago when I had lost years. When what had been a mild depression was shocked into the blackest of times. I got through that one two, part of that healing and journey bringing me here to Vermont.

Rough times, but not without their pleasures. Not without healing and work being done under the surface, before I got better, before I began to reclaim my life, myself, my strength, my spirit. Day to day you could not see the improvement. Sometimes I could not see it myself.

But it was there. Work was done most every day. At first just to keep my spiritual head above water, and later, slowly, making progress. Doing the work. God work. Spirit work. Physical work. Unseen on the outside, but like creekwater under ice, running fast towards healing.

Be kind to those who seem to be going no where. They may well be on the journey in a way you cannot see, and your kindness helps that journey along. I don’t know where I’d be today if not for the kindness and love of therapists (Bless you Bethany and Beth!), pastors (Thanks Carol and David!), friends (too many of them to mention), my two children who came back to me, and the woman I love.

The picture was taken just down the road from my home in West Pawlet, VT.



  1. You live in a beautiful place! I’m so grateful a friend told me about “Quarry House.” Your posts have been bright spots in each of these stay-at-home days. Thank you very much. – Ellyn Couvillion, Baton Rouge

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