Friday, February 17, 2012

Poetry Friday: February, Frost, Cold Pink Ladies

As a native Washingtonian, I never thought I'd say this, but I do find myself wondering as I get older why I'm not living in a place where the sun shines more predictably. I don't mean the desert - that takes a sturdier, tougher soul than me. The sky in the desert is wide and lovely, but the land is mean. No, I like things generous: I'd love to look out and see a field of sunflowers, with blue sky overhead, instead of dormant and sad-sack Seattle in February. Maybe it's because so many friends and family have been traveling to Mexico, Hawaii, Italy this winter - I find myself dreaming of guayavas in Patzcuaro and pineapples in Kauai. I want to hold a vine-ripened tomato - the kind you find for sale in the Campo de' Fiori market stalls in Rome in June - up to my nose and just inhale the peppery smell of the vine. Sunshine, sunshine, give me some sunshine! But no....

Oh, dear.

Well, here is a little reminder from Robert Frost that cold is needed, even by the orchards that will give me some of the sun-ripened fruit I crave.'s hard to wait. But when I bite into a Pink Lady apple in August, I'll taste February in it, won't I? And I guess Spring is not that far off.....
Good-bye, and Keep Cold

This saying good-bye on the edge of the dark
And cold to an orchard so young in the bark
Reminds me of all that can happen to harm
An orchard away at the end of the farm
All winter, cut off by a hill from the house.
I don't want it girdled by rabbit and mouse,
I don't want it dreamily nibbled for browse
By deer, and I don't want it budded by grouse.
(If certain it wouldn't be idle to call
I'd summon grouse, rabbit, and deer to the wall
And warn them away with a stick for a gun.)
I don't want it stirred by the heat of the sun.
(We made it secure against being, I hope,
By setting it out on a northerly slope.)
No orchard's the worse for the wintriest storm;
But one thing about it, it mustn't get warm.
"How often already you've had to be told,
Keep cold, young orchard. Good-bye and keep cold.
Dread fifty above more than fifty below."
I have to be gone for a season or so.
My business awhile is with different trees,
Less carefully nourished, less fruitful than these,
And such as is done to their wood with an axe—
Maples and birches and tamaracks.
I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard's arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.

                                        -Robert Frost

Yes, glorious, glorious, glorious!
The Poetry Friday round-up this week is being hosted by Myra at Gathering Books. Head over there to see what other people have posted!  

And don't forget to check the other blogs I participate in - Books Around the Table (my writers group) and Write at Your Own Risk (written by faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts' Writing for Children program.)


  1. Robert Frost is New Hampshire, but, I suppose he could be Washington, too. I'll share him with you.

    One of these days I'll go up to his farm and take a picture. I'll send it to you, but, I think I'll wait 'til it's a little warmer.

  2. "But something has to be left to God."


    The birds have started singing rambunctiously in the early mornings...not yet in the DARK, but we're getting there! Spring is coming! It WILL come again, hallelujah!

    (these words of hope come to you from grey, dreary Ohio)

  3. What a pleasurable post, Julie. Could there any better way to mark Frost's greatness than with "Good-bye, and Keep Cold"? Thank you, dear.

  4. Love this entry! I even listed it on my bibliography.