Some Winter Frost and a Wise Berry

Rock Creek Park in winter. (Photo: Susan Austin Roth)
Rock Creek Park in winter. (Photo: Susan Austin Roth)

Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.
Wendell Berry

A s a child growing up in Vermont, I learned the serenity of a deep and quiet snowfall at a young age. I loved the hushing of a busy world, the soft sounds of the flakes falling and landing, and the way they sparkled under a streetlamp or a rising sun. When my husband, Jim, and I moved to Washington, DC, more than 40 years ago, I came with few expectations of winter magic. Yet I discovered that Washington can delight during the season too, whether a dusting of snow transforms the landscape or a massive coastal storm — like the one five years ago — shuts the city down.

With so many things troubling our hearts and minds, there’s nothing like winter beauty to transform, not only the outer landscape but our inner ones as well. I hope that this winter season you feel “joyful though you have considered all the facts” and that you find beauty in the trees, whether they are palms in the sun or snow-laden hemlocks.

Here are three winter solstice and new year’s gifts. The first is a well-known Robert Frost poem. The second is the poem set to music by a friend and college classmate of my dad, Mike Choukas. Frank Logan composed this piece when he was a senior at Dartmouth in 1952 and the recording by the Singers’ Club of Cleveland was made at a Christmas concert in the 1980s. Both men are now in their 90s and looking forward to another snowy winter in Hanover, New Hampshire. My third gift is a lesser-known poem by Robert Frost that my poetry teacher, Ann Quinn, shared with our class this week.

Joyful Winter Solstice & Serene New Year!


Rock Creek Park's Boundary Bridge in winter
Winter at Boundary Bridge in Rock Creek Park. (Photo: Susan Austin Roth)

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost/Frank Logan

Dust of Snow

By Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Melanie Choukas-Bradley is a naturalist, forest bathing guide, and author of several nature books, most recently Resilience—Connecting with Nature in a Time of Crisis and Finding Solace at Theodore Roosevelt Island.

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