Winter Night

“…That’s how little I understand winter, how it can bewitch its inhabitants (for it is more like a country than a season, a thing to which one belongs), so they cannot say and don’t know whether they love the winter or hate it.”

— Patricia Hampl, from “A Romantic Education”

Do not ask me tonight whether I love it or hate it. Tonight, Winter may be a country or a hostile season — whichever, it has me fully in its frigid grasp and I cannot get warm. So I have been browsing through Winter: A Spiritual Biography of the Season to see what a wide variety of writers have to say about winter, spirit, imagination. I definitely recommend this collection!

As I skimmed through the book, thinking about winter and writers, the idea of cold never far from the surface of my thoughts, I was reminded of a poem by William Stafford, which I think is worth sharing (thought it is NOT included in the book).

Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me

mistakes I have made. Ask me whether

what I have done is my life. Others

have come in their slow way into

my thought, and some have tried to help

or to hurt: ask me what difference

their strongest love or hate has made.


I will listen to what you say.

You and I can turn and look

at the silent river and wait. We know

the current is there, hidden; and there

are comings and goings from miles away

that hold the stillness exactly before us.

What the river says, that is what I say.