Saturday, January 31, 2009

King Winter

From the coldest caverns and the bleakest hills he has summoned them. They have journeyed from the twelfth month through the first and finally they are all assembled, ready to do his bidding. At the King’s midnight signal, they shall advance unchallenged across the landscape, warriors older than time, shouldering weapons tried and true; weapons that never fail to hit their mark. Ice and snow and freezing rain, with artillery fashioned to make moods fall as low as temperatures, trailing melancholy and lethargy in their wake. Knowing this to be his last stand, King Winter enters into no mere frigid skirmish. Oh no, this is his February; this is his war. We know it is useless to fight, for we have lived through this before. So, snug in our wool and our fleece, we hunker down, with our beaks under our wings, and we wait. Well supplied, secure in our hope and our imagination, we know we can hold out for the twenty eight day siege, even longer if need be. For soon, we remember too well to doubt, the cavalry shall come. Little green troops of Spring shall awaken - a bit here, a bit there - until whole verdant armies appear on the hillsides and swarm through the valleys, warming and lightening both our spirits and our skies, and driving King Winter into exile once more.
Oh yes, we can wait. We are ready.


King Winter sat in his Hall one day,
And he said to himself, said he,
“I must admit I’ve had some fun,

I’ve chilled the Earth and cooled the Sun,
And not a flower or tree
But wishes that my reign were done,
And as long as Time and Tide shall run,
I’ll go on making everyone
As cold as cold can be.”

There came a knock at the outer door:
“Who’s there?” King Winter cried;
“Open your Palace Gate,” said Spring
“For you can reign no more as King,
Nor longer here abide;
This message from the Sun I bring,
‘The trees are green, the birds do sing;
The hills with joy are echoing’:
So pray, Sir - step outside!”

Hugh Chesterman
19th Century

Painting by NC Wyeth