Wednesday, March 11, 2009


being present

winter is not done with us,
whispered each flake of snow
as March begins deeply cold,

in the morning snow has built high
on every branch and grassy surface,

brave, foolhardy daffodils and crocus
are forced to bow beneath heavy frostings of snow,

January jasmine and red maple flowers
seem resigned to the icy coats forced on them,

I fear for the lettuce and sugar snap peas
I just planted in the garden,

there’s a bone-tiredness at school in teacher and student alike,
as if winter has sapped whatever reserves each of us had,
and only will, rather than joy, can keep us functional,
we huddle together and fuss
as if to warm ourselves with shared worry and frustrations,

so what do I do?
I carve out a personal escape up into the mountains,
the world being too much with me
I decide to be just as much with the world,

up here where elevation, rock, water, and solitude
can let me disconnect from that hyper-awareness and involvement
that students, friends, and love call from me,

each morning of the year I meditate
and that focus on the eternal helps me not lose my balance
as I reach out to all the dramas around me,

up here I hope to immerse myself in heart-pounding exercise
up, down, and along the mountain,
and I hope to regain perspective, to recharge my batteries,
so that as winter turns to spring
I am not so sleepy that I cannot celebrate each new beginning,

so, after a good sleep, I softly pound my way up the trail
as snow increasingly covers the world around me,
my thoughts simplify,
all those little worries that bedevil me
are like little biting insects that can’t keep up and they fall off,
I get real and choose each moment where to put my foot,
realize how much I need each breath,
each effort to go up and up,
I feel my heart pound, my senses sharpen,
I thrill at the soft snow and sharply vertical icicles,

the surprise of color on a sunny ridge
where maroon galax leaves shout at me
amidst the limegreen crowd of heathy friends,
and then around a corner I’m back in the white-out simplicity
of a snowy dark hollow,

only when I let my attention wander back inside
and away from being in this moment
do my slips on the trail threaten me,

on the way down winter continues its presentation
and I work to notice, to photograph to learn,
on the way down my body, through the words of my muscles and feet,
reminds me of how much work there is in my play,

I marvel at the creek, full of melted snow,

which sings of what water can do
when released from the rigid sculptures of winter,
and how then in sap and blood will dance
and carry life into virtuosities of performance,

I hope I can be more fully present and renewed
through the being present I give myself today.

by Henry H. Walker
March 5, ‘09

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