Snowy Days And Busy Squirrels
Jennifer Scarlott shares perfect poems to celebrate snowy days and busy squirrels.
Dear Cub kids,
It’s been a snowy winter here in New York City. And sometimes a very cold one. I love it when we have lots of snow. A couple of years ago, we had a very unusual winter without a single snowfall. I missed the snow so much.
Photo: Jennifer Scarlott.
This winter, it has snowed so many times that snowy days and nights seem more normal than clear skies! It’s been beautiful… swirling snowfalls, magically outlining each branch and twig, piling up in drifts, blowing through the night air, followed by days so bright that the snow dazzles like diamonds.
Many poets of New England have celebrated snow. Here is a poem that 19th century bard Emily Dickinson wrote, titled, simply, Snow.
It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.
It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain, –
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.
It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil.
On stump and stack and stem, –
The summer’s empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.
It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen, –
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.
A day ago, I went for a walk in the snow. It was a sunny day. As I walked up a hill in a park full of oak trees, I noticed first one, then two, three, many squirrels! Some of them grey, some black, some blackish brown, all frolicking in the way squirrels do on a warm-ish winter day. But then I noticed something else… I saw a squirrel disappear down a hole in the snow, vanishing a moment or two, before popping back up. Then, it sat and nibbled a small, brown acorn between its tiny paws. Then I turned, and saw that two, three, many squirrels were doing the same thing! The deep snow was laced with holes and tunnels beneath the tall oak trees, and the squirrels were diving down, gone for a moment, and then squirming back to the surface, always with an acorn between their paws and sometimes a little cap of snow on their heads. Often they sat and ate the acorn right there on the snow, other times,they ran a few feet up the trunk of a tree and ate the acorn suspended upside down by their back paws, or seated on a sturdy branch high up. And as I gazed up into the trees, I began to notice that a little squirrel was tucked into nearly every fork!
It was great fun to watch. The squirrels seemed very hungry, and very pleased with their easy access to autumn’s food cache. Sometimes they just stopped to play “chase,” swirling in rapid spirals around the giant trunks of the trees, grey chasing black, black chasing grey. Coming home, I looked for a poem about squirrels, and was so happy to find one that described my experience perfectly! It’s by Welsh poet William Henry Davies, who wrote it in 1911.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
I love poetry, and especially poetry about nature, just about as much as I love snow and squirrels, and oaks and acorns… do you have a favorite nature poem? Or have you written one?
Author: Jennifer Scarlott, First appeared in: Sanctuary Cub March, 2014.