reflective snowmanI’ve been trekking with Catherine and Her Destiny for a few months now, and the happiness that she finds in the story is rubbing off on me. I entered the story because I was interested in Catherine’s pursuit of happiness, or rather, the way Destiny gives and takes away her happiness. It’s kind of futile for Catherine to pursue happiness because it’s not in the cards. It isn’t until she begins to make offerings that Catherine begins to realize a kind of joy that can’t be taken away by any of the circumstances of life.

Like Catherine who goes up the mountain every day with her offering, I’ve been walking into the woods to offer nuts and seeds to the birds. If you stand in the forest with your hands full of food, the birds and the squirrels will eventually show up. The woods become alive with the chittering of nuthatches and woodpeckers. The chickadees assemble, calling to one another from the high branches, uttering their sweet “dee dee dees” and filling the air with excitement. The squirrels come bounding down from the trees, and stand at your feet, earnestly clasping their paws together like old women who should be wearing aprons and babushkas.

Before you know it, you’ve got friends all around you. Worries and concerns melt away and if there’s anything on your mind at all, it’s wonder. How do these little birds survive the snapping cold? What will convince the nuthatch that it’s safe to light on your hand? He’s trying so hard to fly over. Maybe you can put a nut in the bark of the willow tree. See if he can find it.

At this time of year, everybody has been busy making offerings. I love the gifts that are made by hand. Even a simple handmade card holds the feeling of being held closely. This year, I’ve been making bookmarks and snowman cards. The snowmen came out of nowhere after I happened to buy a box of Inktense ink sticks. Ink is vibrant, but it’s messy in bottles, and I put it away a year ago after permanently staining the sink in the laundry room. Sticks are much cleaner, and you can use them dry or wet. At first I didn’t know what I would draw on the cards, but I was drawn to indigo paper and white ink, and that’s when the snowmen showed up.

I recently went and re-read Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Snowman, and then I thought I would write a note of appreciation to him. So here it is.

A Letter to the Snowman

To the Snowman in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale
written so long ago, so long ago melted away
and yet still standing—

This winter you have impressed yourself
on dark blue pages
letting me know
that you love indigo
and being painted
under starlit skies
and falling snow

You show yourself tangled in the line
of a star
as if it were a kite
and when I am walking in the park
I hear you humming a tune
about fishing for hope in the sky
and catching stars

You have given me several
close ups that show me
how pensive and tender you are
and I see that you love irony
Andersen saw it too
A man of snow
made around a shovel meant
to rake the stove

You should have longed for the
cracking cold and whistling
winter winds
but you found yourself
gazing through the window
with a strong desire
to be close
to the fire
as if you knew
somewhere in your pole
that you were meant to
stand by the stove

Why am I drawn to you this winter?
Why are you drawn to me?

Why have the stars entangled us
I think it’s our love for the irony
of snow being drawn to heat
of white being drawn to midnight
and stars fished from the sky

Yes, that’s it
that’s why I’m drawing you out
I hope you’ll stay awhile
at least for as long as it takes
for the wind to disentangle us
or the sun to turn you back
into an ordinary rake.

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