Sunday, January 10, 2010

On January

"January has bleakness, naked trees with cold rain dripping from them. It has drabness; violence; sharp, bitter winds' and the colored magnificence of ice, too. But sometimes it has moments of tenderness that are not surpassed by the compassion of any month.

One of these is that moment when night has just barely come but day has not altogether departed from snow-whitened hills and fields. When lights come on in the farmhouse then, one looks from a warm, lighted room into an outside world turned suddenly bright blue.

Against the glasslike clarity of that blue sky, bare trees loom up in blackness. A line of fenceposts rises up blackly from fluffy cascades of black weeds and brush. The last, late birds, hurrying from feedpans to wherever they go to sleep for the night, are small black pebbles tossed against the bright blue air.

This moment forgives the day all its shortcomings. This late, bright blue moment of early evening is reward for one's having ploughed laboriously through snow all day, to the barn, mailbox, henhouse, to neighbor's houses, to woodpile or cistern or wherever one went that day. The blue world lasts only about ten minutes, fifteen at most; even the busiest of farmers can spare time to accept this tenderness from January's cold hand."

From the chapter January in
by Rachel Peden
Alfred A. Knopf, New York

I read this book when I first moved to the country, and found it again at the library's used book sale this fall. I am once again reading, month by month, the observations of a 1950's farmwife and enjoying them even more the second time around.
I will try to share a bit from each chapter as this year progresses; Rachel's comments on country life, nature and beauty are still relevant today.


Susan at Stony River said...

Those photos are splendid -- you could almost make me like snow, with shots like that.

I said almost.

Sounds like a great book!

Granny Sue said...

These were actually morning shots, taken on my way to work this morning. What a sunrise! But I saw the blue as she described it and it seemed to me the photos went with her words.

It's fun to read this book--what she sees as normal everyday activities most people today would see as hardship. It makes me wonder if we're going soft.

Mary said...

Beautiful words and photos. I do try to stop to admire that last evening light, and in the winter with the leaves off the trees, I can see it! In the summer I have to go for a walk to see the sunset, but that's a good time to walk . . . I love how that works out!

Mary said...

Still haven't seen the deer . . . just their hoofprints.

Rowan said...

This sounds my kind of book. I know what she means about winter sunsets too. One of my favourite sights is the black tracery of bare trees against a winter sunset.

Linda said...

Nice post! I like the pictures too.

Lee said...

Ooooh I want to read that book, too!

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