Darkness lingers yet
as gusty winds blow wintry
cold beneath greyish skies

On brighter days in
pallid sun, dandelion
opens tender florets of gold

By Pauline Ann Walsh

 dandelion in snow

Ann Walsh is an educator, presently living in Dublin, who loves to write and to share with other writers. Contact her at fevwalsh@gmail.com

Photo of dandelion in snow by Leo Pichler Jr

Golden Rod

Downy gray plumes of seeds
On bending umber stems sway
In wind that blows snow
In a whirling cloud
Across the field, and

I pray to the Creator of all this,
Teach me to live like golden rod,
To want nothing more than to grow in rain,
Bloom in sun, bend in wind
And bear seed in snow.

By John Jacobson

goldenrod flowers in a field

John Jacobson lives and writes in the Catskill Mountains of New York. His writing has appeared in Kaatskill Life magazine and Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide. He is working on a memoir about caregiving and nature.

Photo of Goldenrod flowers in a field by Ruud Morijn

Redwood Prayer

Grant me deep roots.
Solid branches.
Let the fires pass me by.
Let generations of squirrels and blue jays
hop on my limbs.
Let me breathe fog, chew sunlight
and look down
over centuries.

By Joe Cottonwood

ink drawing of redwood tree

Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life. Construction work may seem the antithesis of nature, but Joe would point out that birds do it, bees do it, and he tries to 99 Jobs Book Coverbuild in harmony with the environment using salvaged materials wherever possible. He is the author of nine published novels, a book of poetry, and a memoir. He lives in La Honda, California, where he built a house and raised a family under (and at the mercy of) a giant redwood trees. His most recent book is 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses. His website is JoeCottonwood.com

Original drawing, “Redwood Prayer” by Shirley Bortoli, from the chapbook “Son of a Poet” by Joe Cottonwood.

Memory of Another Winter

Only half-way through January and already it feels onerous and way too long. Is it advancing age that places this heavy mantle on my shoulders? Is it the contemplation of yet two more months of crippling snow and deep freeze?

The other day I tried to imagine what it would be like to live in Alaska, to roll out of bed every day and face the challenges of life in the frozen north. Nearly constant darkness, temperatures dropping lower than the worst ever chronicled on the summit of New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. Nibbling on frozen whale blubber to stave off gnawing hunger pains that growl to be sated. Orca on the half-shell. Just plain awful.

It was not always like this. I can remember earlier years when I welcomed the onslaught of a strong winter storm. Together with other young couples we would head to the sledding hill of a friend in a nearby town, leaving a baby sitter to care for five sleeping children.

A cold and clear night, bright canopy of stars overhead, roaring bonfire, mugs of hot rum and the fun camaraderie of other young marrieds like ourselves. We felt such freedom from the daily responsibilities of our young lives. Icy winds, bitter cold temperatures, none of it mattered.

A fifty-year old memory? Impossible. It still seems like yesterday. Now, when wintry winds howl outside I retreat to my comfortable chair with a good book, snuggle a warm lap blanket closer around my knees, hunker down and long for the warm days of April.

mother and son walk in snowy forest

Patricia Sullivan is a dedicated writer of short essays. In addition to Nature Writing, her work has been published in a Life After Seventy anthology, The Boston Globe newspaper, Regis College Creative Writing magazine, and Still Crazy Magazine. Mother of five, grandmother of seven,she stays young by spending time with kids and grandkids. Her celebrated wine cakes have appeared on many community tables, always with attached recipe. Patricia and her husband, Paul, live in a small house on Winnings Pond in Billerica, Massachusetts, USA, known as “Sullivan Central” to the members of her large family. A first attempt at writing in later years was a piece of “foolish doggerel” whose odd message she then accepted:

An Old Woman Dozing in Bed,
Heard an odd voice inside of her head.
“Wake up you old fool
and go back to school
There’s more years behind than ahead!”

Photo by vladsogodel

I consider

The end of winter, when the longer rains
contract and staccato eruptions cosmetize air
with tulip sounds and grassy dashes. Lacquered sun
melts my fixed stare, the frost tough to bite through.
Blessed stumble, gregarious gate, my dream of the woman
who knows how to mend the world. Her mango-scented
glance unravels my Teutonic structure. I had thought
I eschewed submission but her irresistible delivery
of scarlet underclothes behooves me to dance.
Adjacent to Earth’s be-ribboned roots I wait four
hours, heart to ground, for my next choreography.

They say, in our times, the bats die off, bees fall ill,
I hear the death cry of their drones while polar ice
caps soften. Am I wrong to idle in delirious love of
irises’ purple? Or does it constitute hope
to shore against my species’ juggernaut?

By Grace Marie Grafton

purple crocus in the snow

Grace Marie Grafton is the author of six collections of poetry, which can be reviewed on Amazon’s site. Grafton_Whimsey_CoverShe lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a redwood tree outside her kitchen door and a native live oak next to her deck. Nearby are red squirrels, raccoons, salamanders, and (never seen) mountain lions. Other of her nature poems can be found in Canary (online), Peacock Journal (online), Third Wednesday, Poecology and The Common Ground Review. Her book, Whimsy, Reticence and Laud: unruly sonnets, is rooted in her love of nature. She has taught for decades with CA Poets in the Schools, frequently taking her grade school students outdoors for their poetry lessons.

Photo of purple crocus by Gelia