("Privacy of Storm" - Emerson)
I republish an old post, from Jan. 3 2010.
The recent storm was actually an "easier" storm than the one in this post.
The snow began falling Thursday. I plowed. Friday it continued, but turned wet. I plowed. Saturday it continued and, as with the two previous days, the snowfall amount greatly exceed the amount forecast. I plowed again. At four in the afternoon, the predicted "turn-back" began with the now consolidated storm moving inland and west from the ocean. By dark they'd stopped plowing the roads, the winds were steady at 16 mph with forty mph gusts and the "white stuff" was coming sideways at a "white out" "inches an hour". We were snowbound.
I was by Whittier's farm early last month and snapped the image just before his homestead "got two" (December inches). Whittier's homestead today is identical to the woodcut on the title page of the 1866 "early enough" edition… I read… again… these past evenings. It wasn't the only thing I read but it was the most appropriate.
Today, Sunday, Jan. 3, I woke up at 2:30 AM, noted the house was still warn and the electric power still on. I got up, as I usually do, came downstairs and noted the internet was on. It had been on and off the whole day before. I stirred the "wood against the chimney back" then a "knotty forestick laid apart, and filled between with curious art. The ragged brush; then, hovering near, we (I) watched the first red blaze appear" (Snow Bound). I looked out the window and confirmed the brief discussion I had with my wife the evening before; that I should bring the snow shovel inside the door instead of leaving it outside beside the door, because it will be… buried. It was. It was still snowing. Blowing. White out.
I went to my coffee and the internet. The local radar showed the last big blast passing over and would be gone by 4 AM. A clear off by 8 AM. Most of today I am "engaged in snow management activities" excepting this post.
How deep do my drifts need to be to be snow bound? Three feet and deeper they were this morning, coming up over the hood of the truck. I only got stuck once and that was nothing. I put down some cupfuls of sand from the bucket in the cab and I was "out" That's because then… a five to six in the morning, in the dark, the snow was still quite light and puffed away. Now, at eleven, when I walk outside to the woodshed, I hear men already struggling in their cabs for "its above freezing" and the snow "is getting heavier by the second". It no longer "puffs", it… "sticks". That bit of timing I apply again for …I don't like "sticks" on my snow shovel… so will wait until tomorrow morning to shovel the trails to the mail box, bulk head and far shed doors… unless it "gets cold" (below freezing) again today… and that it may well.
After plowing I sat in front of our old kitchen fireplace, ate the oatmeal cookies ("still warm are best") made by my daughter, and finished SNOW BOUND. Early editions and even later printings of the very, very, very first edition - first printing of SNOW BOUND are easily found. For reading, ownership and display, I prefer the earlier editions in their green or rust publisher's cloth with gilt title binding and having the frontis portrait of Whittier under a tissue guard and next to the title page with the …very pleasingly accurate… woodcut of his homestead farm. I always find, with each poke of a read, another line or two that spins for me. In this reading it is the noting of the full moon, "above the eastern wood" that was identical… to my snow bound moon and wood. Above that line, the witch's fire and tea rhyme has always …haunted me. I have always responded to chancing on human figures about an under-tree pasture fire… on a late, late, late fall afternoon… just before dark. It's usually coffee… not tea... for me.
Copies found by poking in… poetry sections… of old New England "used & rare" bookstores will turn up SNOWBOUND in attractively old editions for… sixty… forty… twenty and… even six or two… dollars. The poem, the poet, the poet's homestead and… the physical book… ALL are impeccable classic New England good taste. These days… no one but those guarding the secret treasures of northern New England know about any of this…snow bound… so it is …justly there for the taking. The poem appeals if one truly likes "the old ways" of New England. It identifies deeper if one has actually lived those old ways… and still does ("raised that way"). It should be snowing hard when read and the book is best displayed properly to anticipate "getting it down from that shelf" …when they "stop plowing the roads".