Tag Archives: snow

The Last Hurrah

14 Mar

The Last Hurrah

by L. Stewart Marsden

Winter’s last hurrah blew in over night, and I’m pretty sure once this storm has passed, I can breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to spring.

Meantime, the local bird neighborhood was gathered when I came downstairs this morning with the dogs. They waited patiently (their feeders were bare) as I fed the dogs and slipped on my walking shoes and jacket. And they were on the verge of impatience as I slowly poured a fresh supply of seed into the feeders.

A flock of larger black birds apparently heard the ruckus, and decided to descend upon the feeders, which are not designed for them, but the smaller ones.

Don’t know why, but it upsets me when the big birds bully the smaller ones away. They can always go to the dumps and trash bins –– and aren’t above picking the streets and roads of carrion. I have this impression they could take out a few of the smaller birds if they’d a mind.

I once shot a robin when I was a boy. Like today, it had snowed, and I took my bother’s BB gun into the yard where I spied the bird yards away and aimed at him, well above so as to miss him. The shot didn’t miss the robin, however, and I watched in horror as the pellet arched downward and hit the unintended victim.

Even so, if I had a pellet gun or BB gun, I’d be very tempted to whiz one by the large blackbirds as a warning.

I know … it doesn’t make sense, does it?

As it is, when the big ones try to raid the larder, I step out and shout BAH! in a loud voice. The bullies scatter, yet the smaller birds hang close and swoop down onto the feeder. And I have a fleeting feeling of satisfaction, followed by one of foolishness.



Winter Beast

6 Apr

Winter Beast

by L. Stewart Marsden


The Winter Beast came howling over the Blue Ridge mountains, snarling and slashing at everything in its path.

It was the  season’s matchless last fury. No one could remember one worse.

It would linger, the weather reporters said, with sub-zero temperatures that froze pipes and bit flesh. Ice and sleet that cracked limbs and felled trees, snapped power lines and exploded transformers throughout the mountain countryside.

To that add two feet of heavy snow, with more to come.

You can make it,” I heard my father say as I trudged awkwardly along what I hoped was the right road.

The Jeep was useless. Besides snow making driving impossible, the cold had frozen the radiator of the vintage car, and the battery was dead.

I was covered with snow. My ski hat crusted over with chunks of ice, as were my jacket and pants and boots.

You can make it.

I thought of tales I heard as a kid of people being stranded in snow. How their body temperature dropped so low they become lethargic and disoriented. Their extremities − fingers and toes − died, and some actually cracked and broke off. Like carrots quick-frozen in liquid nitrogen, then dropped to the floor where it shattered into a thousand shards.

You can make it.

I thought of the cable reality shows − how I’d much rather be naked and afraid right now than bundled and slowly freezing to death.

You can make it.

Sure I can. I think I can. I’m not so sure. I sure don’t know.

They’ll find me in the spring when the snow melts. Maybe.

Wait. Spring was three days ago! That damn − what is it? What’s the animal? Hamster? Otter? Saw his shadow? If I had an otter I could slit its belly open and shove my hands inside for the warmth. Some guy did that with his dog. He was freezing, too. Famous story. What was that story? Was it London? Can’t remember.

You can make it.

My lips − cracked and needing balm. Where’s my lip balm? My inside pocket? Yeah. I can feel it from the outside. If I could get my fingers to move, I could get my lip balm and smooth my cracked lips.

God, I’m thirsty. The snow’s too cold to eat. Watch out − the yellow snow! There is no yellow snow. There’s nothing alive out here to pee in the snow to make it yellow.

How many miles? Why the eff did we have to buy that cabin? Miles from nowhere?

“Great view, huh? You can see down into the valley, and at night, when the slopes are lit up, it’s like Christmas!”

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Fire. I wonder if the fire is still going? I wonder how Dad is doing?

“Want some popcorn? I’m gonna to cook it right over the fire!” When I was a kid we had those Jiffy Pop aluminum popcorn pans we used over the fire. But it always burned. Black widows is what you call burned popcorn.

Yeah. Burned popcorn. I can smell the butter and the salt. If I could smell anything. It’s in my head − in my brain, which is getting colder and colder. Remember brain freezes? I hate when that happens!

God, I’m tired. My legs feel like tree trunks. My feet − I can’t feel my feet at all. I don’t care. Actually feeling kind of warm right now. Maybe I should take my jacket off for a few minutes. I could move better. And find my lip balm and smooth my cracked lips.

What was that song? Pretend that he is parse and brown? Parson Brown. I always thought that what it said. But maybe it meant a brown snowman that parses. Clinton? He parses. But he’s not brown. Later on, we’ll perspire, as we dream by the fire. Jenny hit me in the arm when I sang it like that. As we sweat by the fire. Hit.

Jenny!  What’re you doing right now? Not freezing. Not trying to save your dad. Not out in the middle of God only knows − with your fingers and toes . . . that rhymes! Fingers and toes . . . God only knows!

You can make it.

Right, Dad. I can do ALL things! Hot. Is it hot to you? ‘Cause I’m feeling very warm. That’s ironic! If I just could get my fingers to bend, I could unzip . . .

Good thing I don’t have to pee. I’d wet myself. And then the pee would freeze and I would freeze and my dad would just have to get himself out of his own mess.

How far? Which effing way? I’m so tired. So tired.

I’ll just sit down for a moment. Not long, just for a moment. Don’t worry, Dad, I’m not giving up on you. I’m just sitting down in the snow for a moment. A little rest. Maybe take my jacket off. Get my lip balm.

It’s so soft, the snow. Like a fluffy, soft cold blanket. I like it cold when I sleep. Can’t stand it hot. Ah, that’s better. Like a bed. And the snow coming down again.

Quiet. Lighting softly and quietly on my face, and on my eye lashes, and on my lips. My cracked lips.

Hey, Jenny! Snuggle close, will you? Hold me. I’m just a bit too cold. Just a bit . . . too . . .


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 6 April, 2014

Winter of the Best Snow

17 Feb


Winter of the Best Snow
by L. Stewart Marsden

Every Wednesday like clockwork for three weeks in a row
the weather forecasters forecasted deep snow.

Six to eight inches, they predicted each week.
The response of each child was a deep-hearted shriek
of delight, for that night in the dark the clouds would roll in
and silently, softly, the snow would begin
to fall to the earth.

School is closed. Locked up tighter than tight
and no worries o’er hist’ry nor mathmatics tonight —
For tonight all our noses are glued to the panes
of our windows and we know that the remains
of the storm — half a foot of white snow
awaits on the morrow for an army of kids.

Oh! Wax the red runners of Flexi-brand sleds,
Dig out toboggans and mittens and dredge
out old sweaters and stockings and stuff
and muff up our ears and lip balm our lips
and ready ourselves for a snow-trudging trip
to the best sledding hill — a mere four blocks away
where we’ll slide and we’ll glide till the end of the day
on those blue-glowing slopes that provide hours of fun
and finally, toe-numbed, we trudge frozenly home
at the last dwindling rays of the quick-setting sun.

“Strip ’em off here!” order moms with a shout,
and the soggy cold clothing splats onto the floor
of the kitchen where frozen blue bodies step out of the skins
and dash to the bathroom leaving footprints of wet
to thaw in the steaming hot shower or bath
and laugh at the times on the snow hills we had
and anticipate gathering round a warm fire
with marshmellows browning on bent coat-hanger wire.

Heavy cream and vanilla and sugar and snow —
the best winter concoction I ever did know —
a draught of delight — a heavenly brew
a manna no manner of manufact’ring could do.

That was the time — three weeks in a row —
and all who were there remember that snow
with the warmest of mem’ries they ever will know.