Transforming Moments

Nursery rhymes and Dr. Seuss caught me as a child. Then poetry disappeared from my life, and I didn’t notice. In high school, I analyzed the elements of assigned poems, managing to do so without thought or connection. In college, I avoided math, foreign languages, and all things poetic; and as a young adult, I forgot poetry existed.

Then Robert Frost rose up, thumped me on my head, caught my attention, and took my breath away with a flow of simple words focused on a fleeting moment.

Dust of Snow          raven on a spruce
by Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

With his straightforward description of a meaningful moment in his life, Mr. Frost captured similar brief, shining occurrences I had experienced — moments that lifted me from myself and filled me with a sense of wonder: a monarch butterfly hovering near my face, a mountain sunset of magenta staining a river below, a breeze ruffling the cottonwood leaves through which I climbed, morning light outlining the silhouette of an elk, a bear playing peek-a-boo by repeatedly popping his head out of road-side undergrowth, then quickly withdrawing.

An evening grosbeak showed up in our yard today.Male Evening Grosbeak in Winter

I was drinking coffee with Joel, idly gazing at a spring-infused morning through windows in need of washing, when a male grosbeak plunked himself down in our platform feeder.

My heart leaped. After last summer’s absence, the bird with an unfortunate name and striking appearance had returned. I grabbed the binoculars to verify his details: bright yellow forehead and body, exaggerated pale bill, white-blazed wings and confident demeanor.

A grosbeak picking through the sunflower seeds we’d sprinkled with hope transformed my morning; a morning I had dreaded for reasons that now seemed insignificant.

The splendid bird also reunited me, however briefly, with an esteemed poet named Robert Frost: the man who returned me to poetry.