Distant Winter

(Used with permission)

There are a few of us up at 5 AM, some friends sending love, a bird at a feeder, mysterious beings in the underbrush, the crippled pup in his bed, and maybe you.

The emptied farmhouse is silent, the only child gone; outside, there is distant lightning and a dark mist, not like the white fogs along the Northern California coast that unfold and pile a quilt on the land until the ocean itself is somewhere where you can’t find it.

This is in the trees. You can touch it, and it is cold. It is the beginning time of decline, of endings. Winter is waiting outside the windows.

When you are alone, something insists upon silence. Instead of talking with another person, watching TV, playing music, or even singing, I’ve been listening to what is not human, to what is not company.

I have been listening to the weather, animals, and the house, especially the fire humming in the wood stove and the rain as we settle into the dying of the year. I see the tin roofs of the sheds and the barn are wet silver and rusty, sleek and cracked and tipped. How much longer will they last, I wonder. There is no fixing some things.

The wise ones, the Ancient Ones, say, “Take a breath. Breathe. There is no end to this. There is no end to the Infinite.” They also say there is no end to suffering, and I know it is so, but there is also this incredible beauty inside and outside – no, wait – it is not outside of us.

It is in us, pouring through us like blue water, like high wind and warm air and the cold, clean fog and mists. And we have days of sun, almost too much sun, too bright and too hot, like love itself, like the passion we yearn for and fear.

Please, let’s not fear any of it, the cold, the seeming endings, the passionate love we have for each other, for everything we are now and going to be.

Winter is coming. It won’t last long. We are not alone. There are children everywhere who have not learned yet to not love their beautiful hearts, and we are still those children.

We are people who give themselves up to feed each other and carry each other through the hard times. And these are not easy times, but we have each other.

There is no distance between us. There is no distance between us.


  • Renee Armand

    Singer, songwriter, and poet Renee Armand, born in Los Angeles, was discovered by Tony Bennett in her twenties and now lives on a 19th-century working farm outside Nashville. She spent years touring the world with John Denver, has released four albums, and sang the Oscar-winning song "The Morning After."

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