The snow fell all afternoon. Atop the backyard wall, it formed another wall. The boughs of the tall pines hung heavy with the fall, drooping with the weight of what looked like little more than cotton wadding. Tiny drifts formed at the base of each window. By the back door, sparrows and other small birds danced in shallower fluff, uncovering with their claws little patches of bare ground and the odd morsel.
And as the snow covered the house with a steady-growing layer—one foot, a foot and a half, two feet—it muffled sounds from outside and within. The snowplow’s dull rumble no longer reached the ears; only the truck’s revolving amber lights gave its rounds away. The bare-floored rooms seemed to grow smaller, having lost their airy echo. The house took on an underwater aspect, as indeed it was nearly submerged. A quiet obtained like the hush of midnight.
And life regained its direction, its purpose, set against the snow’s brilliant white. Some bread warmed up in the toaster-oven gave off a wholesome aroma that had gone forgotten. And not just the aroma, but the underlying necessity. A cup of coffee became a rare, invigorating beverage decanted for a king. A book could be read with the justice it deserved.
The snow and the quiet allowed life’s essential propositions to stand out boldly in relief.
Pitchers and Catchers
Look, I’m not going to lie to you: I’m no big fan of winter.
At best I regard it as a kind of rest, a time for nature
To nap beneath a blanket of snow, to hibernate
Alongside her cubs and trot out shiny in spring.
But I’m no bear. I can’t sleep through it and before you know,
The last bottle of champagne is upside-down in its bucket,
The party’s racket — high-heel clatter, disco and shrieks —
Won’t beat out the hot water pipes creaking in woodpecker cycles:
It’s the long haul, the stretch from New Year’s to pitchers and catchers.
As a gesture, I grow a beard; I’ll shave it off when the boys report.
I come back from a run and freeze at the mirror: there it is,
Like a Christmas tree, all trimmed in beads of frozen breath —
I’ve gone and dragged the enemy into the house, and me so bent
On getting him out. Sometimes I feel the winter’s like a siege,
Trenches for sidewalks, a cold, concrete line of week-old snow,
And the waiting for news, that first dispatch from the South, perhaps
A short piece in the Times, the Yanks and Mets in exhibition.
Until then, it’s a game of dead-ball, a war of attrition.
As you might have guessed, it’s a whole lot more than baseball —
The game just takes me back, aside from any innocence of its own,
To when I was younger, when life set so many diamonds before me
And I stood before life error-free. Now, each winter brings it home:
I’m still waiting for my pitchers and catchers to report. I’ve minored
In everything — you should read my rÃ©sumÃ©. So many strong starts
I’ve ditched on account of pride, disillusionment. Anyway,
It’s never been about a career but life, mine matchless
With love and daily joy. The neighbors dig out; I dig in.