As ballast, I will spend my preliminary hours sweeping floors, and reading about Matisse, and working on a new poem, and shoveling snow, and speculating about the future.
"Snowbound," said my Uncle Luther.
"Got the wood in?" Washington asked my grandfather.
Aunt Nan recited:
Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged heart about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat . . .
She giggled when she finished.
Aunt Caroline said, "I remember when we had to learn that."
"Miss Headley," my mother said. She turned to me. "Do you have that in school? It's John Greenleaf Whittier, 'Snow-bound.'"
"Are we really snowbound?" I said. I liked the idea of it. I felt cozy and protected, walled in by the snow. I wanted it to keep snowing all winter, so that I wouldn't have to go back to Connecticut and school.
"If we have to get out, we'll get out," my father said quickly.
--from "Christmas Snow" by Donald Hall