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Winter Vacation and Winter Prose Poem

Shoveling Snow, New England by Childe HassamOur blog will be taking a short vacation for the rest of December and will return to posting regularly on Monday, January 4. In the meantime, I believed I’d share with you a prose lyric I wrote many years ago. This time we not only have “winter” to get through but many more months of extra hard times due to the pandemic. So I thought that this one-sentence story, which references a “long gray season of darkness and cold and grief” might bring you some ease. — NinaWINTERby Nina ZolotowIn their plot there was always a mad exuberance of tomatoes ripening on the vine, and leafy basil, arugula, and lettuce, and silky violet eggplants, and red and yellow seasonings, and zucchini with its long, luminous buds, and there was always lunch at the wooden counter on hot time afternoons, with illustrations of pasta and bread and olives and salads with herbs, and countless bottles of red wine that realized you feel warm and drowsy, while bees vibrated and the sprawling marjoram, thyme and rosemary gave off their smell balms, and following the adjournment of the banquet, always, inexplicably, there were fresh color figs that they picked themselves from the tree at the garden’s center, an 18 -foot fig tree, for how was it possible–this was not Tuscany, but Ithaca, Ithaca, New York, a rough-hewn landscape of penetrating rocky fissures and embittered icy wintertimes, and I eventually had to ask him–my neighbor–how did that beautiful tree live through the year, how did it endure the harshness of a New York winter and not only survive until springtime, but continue making that marvelous return, year after year, and he told me that it was quite simple, certainly, that every transgression, after the tree lost all its needles, he would sever the tree’s springs on one side only and, on the tree’s other side, he would burrow a gutter, and then he would just lay down that flexible trunk and limbs, lay them down in the earth and gently cover them with soil, and there the fig tree would rest, warm and protected, until spring came, when he could remove its protective covering and stand the tree up once again to greet the daylight; and now in this long gray season of darkness and cold and suffering( do I have to tell you over what? for isn’t it always the same–the loss of a lover, the death of a child, or the incomprehensible cruelty of one human being to another ?), as I gaze out of my opening at the empty space where the fig tree will stand again next spring, I belief, yes, lay me down like that, lay me down like the fig tree that sleeps in the earth, and let my torso residue readily on the ground–my roots connecting me to some warm invariable center–luxuriating in the heart of winter.

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