WBEZ | walk http://www.wbez.org/tags/walk Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The serenity of a walk in the snow http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-08/serenity-walk-snow-81976 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blizzard 2011_getty.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It was by foot and not car that most of us made our way through last week&rsquo;s blizzard. Writer Tom Montgomery Fate revels in those moments of motion. <br /><br /><br />I walk along the edge of the woods on a cold sunny day, until I arrive at one of the poetry boxes.&nbsp; There are six such boxes placed along different walking trails here on our farm. They always remind me to slow down and to attend&mdash;to all the words waiting in the woods amid the frozen tomb of winter.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /><br />Each 16 by 20 inch wooden box is mounted on a small post a few feet from a split log bench.&nbsp; The boxes look like lecture podiums and have hinged lids that flip open to hold one book of poetry, a journal, and a pen.&nbsp; We put the books and journals into Tupperware containers, because it turns out that bugs like poetry too.&nbsp; Some spiders are spending the winter nestled with Pablo Neruda in the poetry box near the river.&nbsp; A caterpillar I know, however, prefers Carl Sandburg and the box beneath the apple tree. <br /><br />But when I flip up the lid of the meadow box I remember: The paper wasps love Mary Oliver.&nbsp; Last summer when I opened this box a dozen of her devotees tried to scare me away from their literary queen, and one stung me.&nbsp; Today, however, there are only two wasps, and they&rsquo;re in cold weather stupor.&nbsp; They stay in their cracks while I pull out the book: Why I Wake Early. I&rsquo;ve read it before, yet am always drawn to one poem: &ldquo;Where does the Temple Begin, Where does it end?&rdquo;<br /><br />Given Oliver&rsquo;s Temple image, I suddenly imagine the poetry box as a little pulpit.&nbsp; So I walk up, stand behind it and read her poem aloud to the captive community&ndash;&ndash;to the barren, creaking oak trees, and the icy buckthorn and blackberry canes. <br /><br />No one responds to my reading of scripture.&nbsp; No nodding or swaying.&nbsp; No one drops an affirming leaf or a confetti of seeds.&nbsp; So next I try a silent prayer&mdash;the kind that can go on forever.&nbsp; Perhaps if I wait long enough the pastor and the rest of the congregation will arrive.<br /><br />They don&rsquo;t.&nbsp; But the liturgy continues:&nbsp; a honking Canada goose rises in the silence, along with the hollow mechanical rapping of a woodpecker, and the wind whooshing up through the soft whorls of the white pines.&nbsp; Then comes confession: the hard, grinding whir of a chainsaw, and the sad drone of the semi trucks roaring down the distant interstate.&nbsp; Overhead a jet slowly draws a white line across the blue grey bowl of the sky, as it carries 200 people to some place they need to arrive very soon.&nbsp;&nbsp; I wonder where they&rsquo;re all going. <br /><br />Then the latecomers arrive.&nbsp; Two bluejays drop in nearby and peck around for seeds.&nbsp; Then, finally, the pastor shows up:&nbsp; A wild turkey, which I must have startled, comes sprinting out of the woods all bothered and anxious like a character from an old Disney cartoon.&nbsp; He pauses on the edge of the meadow looking crazy&mdash;like he&rsquo;s both terrified and wants to scold me&ndash;&ndash;then tears back into the trees without giving his sermon.&nbsp; <br /><br />Twenty minutes later comes the offering, or maybe it&rsquo;s communion:&nbsp; A red-tailed hawk appears soaring high above our odd little church.&nbsp; Four feet of wing, three pounds of&nbsp; blood and muscle, and with binoculars for eyes&ndash;&ndash;a red tail can spot a mouse from a mile away.&nbsp;&nbsp; And he can tell right now whether my eyes are closed or opened.&nbsp; Though when I look up at him I can&rsquo;t see anything clearly&ndash;&ndash;except the wind, which he makes visible. <br /><br />Soon the sun dips under a cloud and the hawk&rsquo;s slow gliding shadow disappears from the weeds. Then the hawk breaks his circle and drifts away.&nbsp; His beak becomes the curved tip of a wide, strong-winged arrow pointing toward home.&nbsp; And this is our benediction.&nbsp; <em><br /><br /></em><br /><em>Tom Montgomery Fate teaches creative writing at </em><a target="_blank" href="http://home.cod.edu/"><em>College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn</em></a><em>, and is the author of </em><a target="_blank" href="http://www.beacon.org/productdetails.cfm?PC=2198"><em>Cabin Fever</em></a><em>, a nature memoir forthcoming from </em><a target="_blank" href="http://www.beacon.org/"><em>Beacon Press</em></a><em>. </em></p><p><em>Music Button: Leo Kottke, &quot;Accordian Bells&quot;, from the CD One Guitar No Vocals, (RCA Victor) </em></p></p> Tue, 08 Feb 2011 15:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-08/serenity-walk-snow-81976