Wednesday, January 06, 2010

An English Winter with an Accent

our street

my street


by Ted Hughes

Snow is sometimes a she, a soft one.
Her kiss on your cheek, her finger on your sleeve
In early December, on a warm evening,
And you turn to meet her, saying "It''s snowing!"
But it is not. And nobody's there.
Empty and calm is the air.

Sometimes the snow is a he, a sly one.
Weakly he signs the dry stone with a damp spot.
Waifish he floats and touches the pond and is not.
Treacherous-beggarly he falters, and taps at the window.
A little longer he clings to the grass-blade tip
Getting his grip.

Then how she leans, how furry foxwrap she nestles
The sky with her warm, and the earth with her softness.
How her lit crowding fairylands sink through the space-silence
To build her palace, till it twinkles in starlight—
Too frail for a foot
Or a crumb of soot.

Then how his muffled armies move in all night
And we wake and every road is blockaded
Every hill taken and every farm occupied
And the white glare of his tents is on the ceiling.
And all that dull blue day and on into the gloaming
We have to watch more coming.

Then everything in the rubbish-heaped world
Is a bridesmaid at her miracle.
Dunghills and crumbly dark old barns are bowed in the chapel of her sparkle.
The gruesome boggy cellars of the wood
Are a wedding of lace
Now taking place.

It's snowing heavily again and the girls' schools have had to close right after the return from Christmas break. England seems to come to a halt every time a couple of inches of snow fall overnight. But I don't mind, as a matter of fact I'm loving the distinctive American feel of this remarkable Winter. Even the fact that over Christmas Mom had old fashion nightdresses made for Ana, Clara and me which are identical to the ones my sisters and I wore in the States 30 years ago contributes to this nostalgic and cozy feel.

Ana and Clara with their new nightgowns

This is for you, Mom...

I promise I'll answer all your nice comments and emails soon, dear blogger friends (old and new!). I'm not in the least indifferent or ungrateful and I very much cherish your kind words. It's just that sometimes I can't reply straight away and then things tend to pile up exponentially... Thank you all for taking the time to be nice.


Ruth said...

So, snow makes everything a lacy wedding. How wonderful, I hadn't read that poem before. Nice to think of him in England writing that too, like you.

Your girls in their flannels conjure nostalgia in me too. I had a red and white striped one (I just remembered, thank you) as a girl. I made a floral striped one for Lesley when she was a girl. Oh look how beautiful Clara and Ana are, I could eat them up in their flannels.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back, my dear.

João said...

Cozy and sweet...hope that's how you feel.

Shaista said...

Claudia, a belated Merry Christmas to you, and for this New Year, I wish you only happy things, happy times - and if there is difficulty then may it touch you very gently and then leave very quickly!
Big hug, Shaista

Salvador said...

Unas breves palabras para felicitarte por la sensibilidad y la belleza de este blog al que he llegado "a través de Portugal".

He quedado gratamente sorprendido por el poema de Antonio Machado "Caminante no hay camino" que usas en la primera entrada, como recuerdo de tu antiguo blog. Vivo en la ciudad y trabajo en el Instituto en el que el poeta fue profesor durante siete años.

Espero que puedas entender el español, but if It's neccesary I can understand English e tambem português, lingua cheia de poesia que eu admiro muito.

Trulyfool said...

Snow, beautiful as it is, in flake and even in slurry forms, does halt things.

Here not so much as Denver or Buffalo. More like the English 'couple of inches'. And not too often. But often enough to institute within me a post-traumatic set of memories.

The US West Coast, my dear. Surf, yes. Sun, San Francisco and south, in good seasons elsewhere. Reasonable politics.

Snow? I prefer any of that 1000 feet above sea level.

rauf said...

Good that we have no winter Claudia, i cannot afford it, i mean living through it, i am not going to buy winter when Summer heat is available free for me even in December January. i wonder how poor live in harsh winters, i grew up believing that there are no poor in western countries, even beggers drive a car. Here a son in law gets a battered car, a gift from his father in law, he goes about begging because he cannot afford to repair, maintain or buy petrol.

Some wise people travel to Asian countries specially India to get away from winter and with the heating bill money of one month they travel comfortably for three months here.

Saw this post early morning but eyes were too fuzzy to read. Is Ana asking is it ok to turn around ? You say no no wait let me take one more picture. EEEEEEEEEEE

Anonymous said...

True blue friends you have, my darling!I feel as if they were my friends too.And reading your blog and their comments starts my day on a wonderful mood.
I wish the best to all of them, those who comment and those who just read, I'm sure there are quite a few of these,too.
Today Orthodoxs celebrate Christmas (according to the Julian calendar).I don't know whether the expression 'merry Christmas' is acceptable, but if it is, Merry Chrismas to them.

rauf said...

Thank you for the wishes Anonymous, feels strange to call you Anonymous as you must be a senior member of Claudia's family. oh yes 7th January, it is Christmas for many, i think they are called 7th Day Adventists ? i am not sure, they are very active here, many Churches and they run many educational institutions in my city of Chennai and in rest of India

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and i wish you and the family a very happy new year with perfect health every day.

And thank you for the comment in English, Claudia's family members usually write in Portuguese.

Have you heard of Goa ? It was a Portuguese colony in India.

Anonymous said...

I thank rauf for his wishes and I ask permission to use Claudia's blog to answer his question (just this time...) yes, Goa is familiar to me, I learnt lots of things about it when I was in school (about Damao and Diu as well)because the three were considered overseas provinces of Portugal in those days. And I remember very well the nationalistic turmoil here in Portugal when Nehru put an end to that situation.

Claudia said...

Ruth, in the Scottish Highlands temperatures droped to -22º C last night, same as the South Pole. We are happy that here in Milton Keynes we are having a "warm" -8º C (as the wind picks up during this weekend the windchill factor might make us feel the 22º C they felt with no wind in the Highlands). The UK is definitely not prepared for artic weather.

As for the word verification, who says that these machines we pour our souls into aren't intelligent?! COLDJUN, how adequate!

Claudia said...

João, it's wonderfully cozy inside the house but unfortunately it's not in our genes to hybernate (I wish it was) and life goes on despite the cold weather outside. Everytime we open the front door, we get an Artic slap on our faces but then it's alright.

Claudia said...

Dear Shaista,

I never answered your previous comment, so beautiful and sweet. You're an inspiration to me (and many others). I hope this year will bring you many happy things.

Lots of love.

Claudia said...


Muito obrigada pelas amáveis palavras!

Fico muito grata ao Carlos P. por ter indicado o meu blog, que não tem quaisquer pretensões artísticas ou intelectuais e cujo propósito último é manter-me em contacto com família e amigos.

Descobri o Antonio Machado através do Caminante do Joan Manuel Serrat (de que um grande amigo meu - e do Carlos - gostava muito).

Claudia said...

Hello Trulyfool!

Thank you for your kind mail and for your comments! As you can see I'm not a very conventional blogger: I don't post regularly and sometimes I take forever to answer my dear blogger friends.

I'm not used to living in the snow. Portugal is quite warm and I apreciate the sun and the mild weather. Seatle is a bit too rainy for my taste, but I have to admit that I absolutely loved California. I spent a couple of weeks in the University of Santa Cruz in 1995, visited San Francisco, Salinas and Monterey while I was there, and I rembember thinking that California was the best of both worlds: the same great weather, sea and beaches as in Portugal, and all the great things that make up the American Lifestyle. Yes, the US West Coast is great and I miss Highway 1.

I wish you a wonderful 2010.

Claudia said...


Lots of people suffering with the weather here. Power failures and no heating for many people, they go into the local pub to keep warm. Churches and pubs play an important social role in exceptional times like this. Also, neighbors pull together to help those in most need of assistance, which is a comforting thing to see in these very selfish, materialistic and individualist times.

Peter said...

Some wonderful images of winter you are showing ... not forgetting the wonderful, probably warm and nice nightdresses! A tough winter like this creates of course some disturbances in life, but this post gives a clearly positive image! Thanks!

Claudia said...

Peter, did you bring the Swedish weather South on your last trip to Sweden? Paris has been pretty cold too! ;-)