A Dot on the Canvas of Snow

As in many places, winter has come early this year in Minnesota—we’ve already had snow and single-digit temps. But even before winter began, creatures of the pond and forest were preparing for cold . . .


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Some animals have migrated, like these gorgeous tundra swans from my new book Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold, illustrated by Rick Allen. They've left the arctic tundra for mid-coastal regions, where they will overwinter.


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Some have been shoring up their winter quarters, like these beavers. See the collection of twigs to the left of the lodge? Beavers have cut down brush and floated it out here. They will chew on it all winter from under the ice.


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Mice are scampering about at night . . .


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 . . . and voles are digging tunnels by day.


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Chickadees are busy collecting food every minute of daylight. Sometimes they even take a seed with them to their roost-hole, to eat upon waking.(Two more beautiful spreads by Rick Allen from the book, above & below.)


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And bees? They are hunkered down inside their hive in a football-sized mass, protecting their queen, who is at the center. Slowly eating their honey reserves, they shiver their way through winter. They survive the bitter cold by relying on each other. As we do.


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Alone, we would falter and drop,

a dot on the canvas of snow.

Together, we boil, 

we teem, we hum.


Deep in the winter hive,

we burn like a golden sun."



—from the poem “Winter Bees”

© Joyce Sidman 2014



(Thanks to Mike Borka for the above photo, taken last winter near his wife Brigid’s hives.) For more about winter creatures, check out Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold.

  Copyright © Joyce Sidman 2006-2018.  All rights reserved.