The sheltering snows

The snow we had at the end of last week has all gone; here by the sea it went fairly quickly, but friends who visited today from Wiltshire reported that they weren’t sure what awaited them returning to their village this evening. Happily I have heard from them and they arrived home safely.

The winter months in the northern states North America can be grim, long and very cold; imagine how much grimmer,. longer and very much colder it was a hundred and fifty years ago! Helen Hunt Jackson wrote ‘A Calendar of Sonnets’ and here is her chilly sonnet for February – with just a hint of spring with the catkins and reddening willow stems:

Still lie the sheltering snows, undimmed and white;
And reigns the winter’s pregnant silence still;
No sign of spring, save that the catkins fill,
And willow stems grow daily red and bright.
These are days when ancients held a rite
Of expiation for the old year’s ill,
And prayer to purify the new year’s will:
Fit days, ere yet the spring rains blur the sight,
Ere yet the bounding blood grows hot with haste,
And dreaming thoughts grow heavy with a greed
The ardent summer’s joy to have and taste;
Fit days, to give to last year’s losses heed,
To recon clear the new life’s sterner need;
Fit days, for Feast of Expiation placed!

Helen Hunt Jackson



  1. david lewis

    I find it hard to believe in global warming from where I stand! Years ago we had what we called January thaws but they don’t occur any more. Now the tree huggers have outlawed studded tires putting peoples lives at risk and you can’t have a wood burning stove to protect the air that the polar bears breath. Sorry for the rant but like our natives say, walk a mile in my moccasins.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      What do studded tyres do? I’ve not heard of that… I think we have chains here… or used to, in the ‘olden days’ when we had snow which lasted all winter. I know my friends in the Netherlands put different tyres on their cars in winter but I don’t know how they’re different.
      Over here they are talking about banning wood-burners, but I think a lot of people buy the wrong sort of wood which does give off dangerous stuff, which is bad in big cities where there’s already pollution from cars.


  2. david lewis

    Studs are made of metal or carbide and are punched in or screwed in a winter tire to provide added grip on icy roads. Only huge trucks use chains any more. We used to have tracked vehicles cleaning our sidewalks years ago and one ran over my Dads car and crushed it. I can still hear him cuss.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. david lewis

    He parked it at the end of the driveway because I hadn’t shoveled it out yet. He chased me two blocks with the shovel and that was the first time I considered running away from home. In later years we would laugh about it because he hated that car anyhow.Phew !!

    Liked by 1 person

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