Cold Snap: A Poem

By

Hey, folks. I’m two shows into the Behold the Lamb of God tour, and officially in the Christmas spirit, whatever that means. I guess it means I feel a little more like a 10-year-old kid and a little less like a 36-year-old guy who has to fix the sink and the muffler. We’re in Milford, Ohio, and big, fat snow is falling. That reminded me of this poem about winter. Thanks for reading!

(From the Bench at the Bend in the Trail)

I know that I should cringe
When I think of the muddy cold
Of winter in Tennessee.

But today, with my daughter
And her friend prancing
In the brown grass yard,
Crunching leaves, singing,
Rosy cheeked and rowdy
In the chill of Autumn,
Refusing their sweaters,
Drinking the dusk
Like a mug of cider,

I look to the early dark
Of winter with easy joy,
Because those are the days
We light candles, eat soup
And keep the water hot
For tea, or coffee, or cocoa
With those crunchy little
Marshmallows.

Those are the days
We wrap ourselves
In quilts my mother made
To watch our favorite movies.
Or we dust off the gameboard
And look out the windows
At the weak light and yearn
For past (or future) graces,

For dying days like this one,
Or days like last April
When I felt against my lips
How the new leaves
On the maples were soft
As a baby’s foot.

We find some peace
In warm pleasures:
In the smallness
Of our heated house
Beneath the vast
Mountain of cold air
Piled on us clear
To the stratosphere,
Trying to freeze us
In our lamp-lit hollow,
Our cleft of calm and longing
Where we tend the fire:
Memory of Autumn’s embers,
Coming song of spring,
Summer kicking in the womb.

Winter is where hope lies happy.

Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


61 Comments

  1. Fellow Traveler

    Nice!

    But aren’t you 34? I thought you were 19 when you got engaged 15 years ago… maybe you were going on 20. But in that case wouldn’t you be 35?

  2. Keith S

    Very nice AP.
    Makes me think of all the things I love about autumn changing to winter. The first snow, the warmth of a fire, the special times with friends and family. Praise God for His creativity to make the seasons and all the beauty that surrounds them.
    Wish I was able to go to a BTLOG show this year. Why don’t you ever (ok, very rarely) come to AZ?

  3. Brent

    Odd timing. Earlier today I was forwarded a winter poem from my father that had been circulating through their local InterTubes following a recent cold snap. (They are in southern Alberta and it dropped to -30C/-22F and -40C/F with the windchill). I will share it with the RR, if only for the contrast in tone:

    Winter Poem

    It’s winter in Canada
    and the gentle breezes blow
    Seventy miles an hour
    at thirty-five below.

    Oh, how I love Canada
    when the snow’s up to your butt.
    You take a breath of winter
    and your nose gets frozen shut.

    Yes, the weather here is wonderful
    so I guess I’ll hang around.
    I could never leave Canada
    because I’m frozen to the ground!

    p.s. My wife & I thoroughly enjoyed the Richmond BtLoG show last night! Please tell Osenga that his second song left her bawling in the bleachers.

  4. Jill

    AP, thanks for sharing.
    I loved the show last night in Richmond!!
    It seems like the tour is bringing snow along with it…
    When I returned to Lynchburg today, I brought snow flurries along with me…. and now it’s pouring!
    We are on our way to participate in the city Christmas parade tonight…..
    BTLOG. snow. parade. What a great start to the season!
    thanks for kicking it off in style.

  5. Missy K

    Oh, I love this. “drinking the dusk like a mug of cider.”

    Thanks so much for posting this. It does my favorite two things– expresses how I feel about winter myself, tucked in here with my family. (39 degrees here in SC, and an earlier dark with a heavy cloud cover) And it makes me want to write. So thank you.

  6. Joy C

    Andrew,
    Thank you for the poem. I could feel it, and it is articulate.
    Today I got out my BTLOG dvd which I’m going to spring on unsuspecting (new) women at the prison tomorrow. I watched some of it again, and I wish I could be there at one of your shows. At least getting to see a recording brings some of the Presence.
    The women are going to like the dvd. They already know the Passover Us song, as I played it from the cd as part of our Luke reading plan (Jesus’ “Last Supper’ Passover celebration and the new meaning about to come…)

    So Thank You. You’re helping me and them. Just keep doing what you’re doing and may the Lord refresh you. Blessings – Joy C.

  7. Mike

    My winter poem, Nimblewill is a wide place in the road between Cashiers and Cullowhee NC.

    Ode to Nimblewill

    I roamed the Hills of Nimblewill
    In the smoky dawn.
    The light crept through the winter breaks
    and cast the shadows long.
    It brought with it a hidden peace
    that rarely found the wood.
    It taught among November’s dread
    that even death was good.

    I walked the ways of Nimblewill
    on tortured earth too still.
    It seemed to speak of rest to me
    nocturnal wink ne’er fill.
    It spoke of hope beyond this time
    a tale few comprehend.
    A tale of lissome, wishful hearts
    longing for a friend.

    I heard the song of Nimblewill
    each note a call to come.
    Each stanza summoned all who would
    but only ghost to some.
    So call out loud dear Nimblewill.
    Cry out to those who hear.
    Though your voice no linger speaks,
    Your message lingers clear.

  8. Becca

    Pete, don’t quit.

    Sometimes I think I should be jealous of AP. But then I can’t. Because everything he writes makes me love Jesus more.

  9. Becca

    I didn’t mean you should be jealous. ‘Just that I am always almost jealous, but can’t ever seem be.

    Pete, your writing is amazing. That’s why I don’t want you to quit.

    Are you two brothers?

    I used to beat up my little brother. Then he grew up and went to Harvard, and learned Jiu-Jitsu, and started to love Jesus with all his heart. I’m amazed, too. They start out so scrawny and vulnerable, and end up something wonderful.

  10. Sondorik

    So very wonderful, thank you.

    As someone who spent the first 21 years of life in Michigan, I rarely think of the frigid season so fondly (case in point: submitted Canadian poem). Andrew, I’m glad you were spared winter trauma early in life so that you could remind us of the simple pleasures of this season. Florida is kind. 🙂

    Mike, I also love that stretch of road from Cashiers to Cullowhee. Only not when it’s iced over in winter! Thanks for the memories.

  11. Canaan Bound

    AP, thanks for the fresh perspective.

    Brent, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed that bit about Canada. I’ve always wanted to live in Saskatchewan or PEI, but this may have changed my mind.

    Mike, yours is great, too.

    What a marvelously talented group of poets we have here in the RR!!

  12. Marsha

    Andrew,

    Thank you for the beautiful winter poem. I also love the line about drinking the dusk like cider, and the image of the kids running around outside in the cold and refusing their sweaters, and then that line near the end, “summer kicking in the womb.” Lovely. It feels just like winter to me, with both the cozy familiarity of home and the exciting expectancy of new things to come.

    I also want to thank you for this wonderful website. I have come here almost every day since discovering it this past summer, and it has been a real blessing to me. And I love your “Counting Stars” album! We’re looking forward to the “Behold the Lamb” concert in Houston!

    Thanks again to you and all the others who contribute here.

  13. Val

    I am new to the RR…but have found that it helps feed a part of my soul I had been neglecting. I am currently living life and serving God in the islands of the South Pacific. As I look out my window on this December day, the trees are green, colorful flowers still bloom, crickets and frogs are bringing in the evening. It is beautiful here, but I do miss the richness of Autumn, and quiet stillness of a snowy night. Thanks everyone for bringing a little bit of winter to my home and heart tonight.

  14. Ben

    Thanks, AP. This is wonderful (even though I’ll experience a South American “blue sky Christmas Eve” as the Andrew Ripp song calls it). Reminds me of this beauty:

    “More Snow Falling”

    One huge hush the whole day.
    No wind. Just endless in-
    exorable cliche,
    the same old stuff again

    and again. . . . We need old stuff
    sometimes. As in liturgy.
    Or a declaration of love.
    No frills, just infinity.

    -Peter Kane Dufault

  15. Jill

    Micah, yep. I’m in L’burg as well. Born and raised.
    I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘rabbithead’. I’m probably more of a visitor to the burrow. maybe a mole or a groundhog….

  16. Jazz

    That was so beautiful. I wish I could write like that.

    I look to the early dark
    Of winter with easy joy,
    Because those are the days
    We light candles, eat soup
    And keep the water hot
    For tea, or coffee, or cocoa
    With those crunchy little
    Marshmallows.

    For the last five years, every New Year my big sister and I watch The Lord of the Rings with some of our girlfriends. We should sooo drink coffee, tea and cocoa!!!! It would definitly get me in the moment.

  17. Laura Peterson

    Well. This almost made me cry.

    Thank you, AP.

    I have a poet-friend currently battling her way through the snow to get to my house so we can do some Christmas baking together, and I’m eagerly anticipating reading this to her when she gets here and seeing her smile.

  18. Fellow Traveler

    Hey Mike, that’s a great one you’ve got going there too. I love the rhythm. Sort of a Tolkien feel. If I may presume to suggest a few touchings-up, I would say one thing to make it better would be adding a word here and there (to keep the rhythm consistent). E.g., “For though your voice no longer speaks,” instead of “Though your voice no longer speaks.”

    Then looking back at the second line, I’d add the word “lost.” “I roamed the hills of Nimblewill/Lost in the smoky dawn.” Again, keeping the syllable scheme consistent. Then perhaps in the line “longing for a friend,” change to “full longing for a friend.”

    Just throwing ideas out there, because your poem is ALMOST perfect, and I’m a perfectionist. 🙂

  19. Dryad

    Becca said:
    Pssst. Jazz, why are you sometimes with Dryad and sometimes without?

    Dryad replies:
    Sometimes, she’s alright with being my sister. Sometimes we disagree.
    Sometimes I steal her sign-in. Sometimes she steals my jokes.
    Sometimes we work together.
    It all works out.
    Sometimes.

  20. Jazz

    Becca, Sometimes Dryad and I do posts together when we agree on something. And since we live in the same house, its easy to share posts.
    Dryad, that’s my e-mail adress you’re using. Next time there won’t be a warning.

  21. Becca

    Thank you, Jazz. Now shape up, Dryad.

    I tried to write a nice Christmas poem but I’ve had vertigo for four days, and this is as far as I got.

    -An Invocation to the Moose-

    Sing to me of the Christmas camel, Moose,
    Randall’s noble humpbacked Mammal
    of his twists and turns through arid climes
    driven time and again off course,
    by that blasted, blaring reindeer schnoz
    leading hallowed flights of sleigh.

    In malls he beheld men shopping like beasts.
    Many pains he suffered, heartsick like a Luke-split Tonton,
    spitting spits he spat between his camel snacks
    (and persuasive dromelogues)
    fighting to save them all from Visas laden with camo Snuggies
    and Ped-Eggs. But he could not save them. Hard as he strove
    the recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all.

    They bought dangly plastic snowman earrings made in Vietnam,
    they devoured Cinnabons and frothy caramel lattes.
    While Santas with acrylic beards sat like fat sirens,
    sacrificing screaming children to cameras
    for twenty-five dollars.

  22. Fellow Traveler

    You’re welcome Mike! I can tell you have a real gift there. Truly awesome stuff. Feel free to post more as the Spirit leads. 😉

  23. Emily

    Hey! Saw your show Saturday with my soon-to-be-family-in-laws…it was great! My fiancé and I kept watching Paul Eckberg (the crazy percussionist?!) and this is the best analogy I could think of…. The scene in Ratatouille when Linguine messes up the soup and Remy decides to fix it. He dances over the boiling pot throwing in vegetables and sprinkling spices. Paul was like a soup ballet! Thanks again for a great show! Beautiful lyrics and voices and musicality from all!

  24. Pracades

    Becca, you were saying how everything Andrew writes makes you love Jesus more…My husband was making fun of me this weekend because I’m a bit of an AP groupie. Did you know you had those Andrew? I get so excited for him to come to Milford every year for the BtLoG tour. We have been going to see him almost every year since he started coming here, which is eleven years now I think? Anyway, he said “Did you blow kisses to him as he was coming on the stage? Or did you scream erratically and faint?” I said, “It’s not like that! He just puts into words everything I’m feeling in my heart, things I can’t put into words, and he makes me feel like a groupie for Jesus.” Sounds cheesy, I know, but its true.

  25. Sallie Kate

    AP,
    Your descriptions give me the warm fuzzies, whatever that means. 🙂
    We dont have distinct seasons here in N Tx (30s yesterday, 50s today, 70s next week) so it’s wonderful to dream of what it’s like to feel the steady, slow birth of one season after another.
    Caleb and I can’t wait to share in the true tall tales from the rich, wooden pews of the Ryman.

  26. Peter Br

    Ah, now that is just about all of why I love winter. So much peace, so much promise.

    Please continue bringing the snow on your tour; we could use another record fall in Dallas.

    Also, Becca, that was one heck of a poetry-to-prose experience. “Dromelogue” has already taken up residence in my lexicon.

  27. Dryad

    Becca: could I have the original text for my Ancient Greek class? It sounds way more interesting than what we’re reading now… it’s about some guy that likes killing people.

  28. Dryad

    Wow… I was confused with the ever-popular, totally awesome Jazz.
    So… happy…
    Unfortunately, this Achilles guy is evidently important, so I have to stick with him.
    THanks anyway.

  29. Jazz

    OUCH! I was really toughed by the beginning of Dryad’s post. I don’t know this Achilles guy, who is he so I can murder him?

  30. Katie

    “Summer kicking in the womb” – love it! This inspires me to write a poem or two. Thanks for sharing.

  31. laura2630

    Rosy cheeked and rowdy
    In the chill of Autumn,
    Refusing their sweaters,

    My father used to tell us, “Girls, put on a sweater. Your mother is cold.”

  32. Cynthia Guy

    Bare with me with this story: The other day my 6 year old asked “What’s the Christmas Spirit, mom?” I’m not quite as quick to answer such questions as my husband. He’s great at answering their questions with very little thought. IT takes me a while to come with an answer that my young kiddos would ask. So I explained rather quickly to look out her window and look at all the lights and decorations. I explained to her that when you have the “Christmas Spirit” that you decorate and enjoy it for the entire month of December. well for a long time that is. I told her that not everyone who decorates are the only ones with the spirit of Christmas. That there are those who can’t put out decorations taht are just as joyful inside. And I explained further to remember the true meaning behind Christmas. And of course her and my 4 year old son say “It’s Jesus’ birthday”. And that just makes my heart melt. Well to make a long comment longer….about 10 minutes later I’m continueing down long country dirt roads with various houses decorated here and there and they strike up a conversation in the back seat about the Christmas lights and how “all those people have the Holy Spirit”. 🙂 I just thought was just too sweet not to share. Esepecially after your comment on your age and how you feel much younger than your age. I understand that completely having two young kids at my age of 30. Merry Christmas AP

  33. Becca

    Cynthia, that is so cool. Thanks for that story!

    On Sunday I was helping with a preschool class at church. A little girl my friends adopted from China kept pointing to some marker ink on her hands and loudly, excitedly calling it, “Da Missmas Smirit.” We could NOT figure out what she was talking about for half an hour. She was still adamant. Finally, we realized she thought the ink our craft had left on everyone’s hands was The Christmas Spirit.

    We laughed so hard. Finally, I put some marker spots on her cheeks and nose, because she wanted The Christmas Spirit all over her.

  34. Laura Peterson

    I just looked up this poem again to share with people. It’s printed out in my work cubicle where I can see it every day during this cold, dark season. “Winter is where hope lies happy.”

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