Under the predictable Snow Moon, the wind blew what appeared to be clouds in an otherwise cloudless sky over Mount Baldy above Santa Fe. These unusual wispy clouds were soon revealed to be clouds of snow dust blowing over the mountains, instantly-creating another fresh new snow fall. Ah winter. I sit here today, my hearth aglow, watching a lovely piñon fire as the house gathers a toasty warmth against the frigid evening temperatures. Even though the world seems quiescent and frozen, signs of a coming spring—still weeks away—are beginning to manifest in the early budding of deciduous trees, the sudden release of pollens from the junipers and the sporadic appearances of geese, beginning to make their flights north. These are subtle clues that change is beginning. Meanwhile we live in an encrusted whitened world of winter.

I have thought much
about snow,
the mute pilgrimage
of all those flakes
and about dark wanderings
of leaves.

I have stalked
all four seasons
and seen how they beat
the same path
through the same woods
again and again.

I used to take a multitude
of trains, trusting
the strategy of the tracks,
of distance.
I sailed on ships
trusting the arbitrary north.

Now I stand still
at my window
watching the snow
which knows only the one direction,
falling in silence
toward silence.

Linda Pastan, “At My Window” in PM/AM—New and Selected Poems, WW Norton, 1982.

Under the predictable Snow Moon the wind blew what appeared to be clouds in an otherwise cloudless sky over Mount Baldy above Santa Fe. These unusual wispy clouds were soon revealed to be clouds of snow dust blowing over the mountains, instantly-creating another fresh new snow fall. Ah winter. I sit here today, my hearth aglow, watching a lovely piñon fire as the house gathers a toasty warmth against the frigid evening temperatures. Even though the world seems quiescent and frozen, signs of a coming spring—still weeks away—are beginning to manifest in the early budding of deciduous trees, the sudden release of pollens from the junipers and the sporadic appearances of geese, beginning to make their flights north. These are subtle clues that change is beginning. Meanwhile we live in an encrusted whitened world of winter.

This weekend also marked the celebration of a long-forgotten Roman feast of love, which was Christianized by the church to commemorate the martyrdom of Saint Valentine in AD 270. In the Middle Ages it was comforted for the union of lovers under conditions of significant duress—but aren’t all conditions a time of duress for lovers? When it comes to love, though, something I have had to address a great deal lately with the book tour for Acts of Forgiveness, I dredged up this remarkable passage from Knowing Woman by Irene Claremont (Harper & Row, 1974, p. 118-118), which summarizes both the feeling and consequence of love quite effectively:

Learn to Love? Has anyone ever learnt to love? We can withdraw our projections, certainly, and by so doing we can learn to understand one another. But I do not believe that anyone ever learned to love. Love happens. It is a miracle that happens by grace. We have no control over it. It happens. It comes, it lights our lives, and very often it departs. We can never make it happen nor make it stay . . . We can perhaps learn to prepare for love. We can welcome its coming; we can learn to treasure and cherish it when it comes; but we cannot make it happen. We are elected into love. This is, I believe, equally true of every kind and degree of love . . . from the love that shines in a baby’s eyes when it first really sees its mother and gives her a smile of recognition, through the whole gamut of intimate human relationships, both spiritual and physical, to the furthest extreme of interpersonal love which we have called AGAPE . . . love simply happens . . . To me love is always the same wherever it appears Where love is, it is as though some presence had alighted. Always there seems to be a third, a something . . . greater than the little persons who are involved. I find it easier to think of love as being present than to talk of loving. Yet we take this miracle so for granted that when it has occurred we think it should be ours forever.”