“Oh, Stormy, Stormy World”

You’d almost think that Frost must have been raised in the Pacific Northwest judging from the descriptions in:

HAPPINESS MAKES UP IN HEIGHT
FOR WHAT IT LACKS IN LENGTH

Oh, stormy stormy world,
The days you were not swirled
Around with mist and cloud,
Or wrapped as in a shroud,
And the sun’s brilliant ball
Was not in part or all
Obscured from mortal view
Were days so very few
I can but wonder whence
I get the lasting sense
Of so much warmth and light.
If my mistrust is right
It may be altogether
From one day’s perfect weather,
When starting clear at dawn,
The day swept clearly on
To finish clear at eve.
I verily believe
My fair impression may
Be all from that one day
No shadow crossed but ours
As though its blazing flowers
We went from house to wood
For change of solitude.

Here in the Pacific Norhwest we seem to have settled into our usual fall-winter-spring, cloud-covered skies,and sunny days seem few and far between, which may well be what makes them so special. As I’ve noted before, you know it’s going to be a good day any day you can see Mt Rainier shining in the distance.

Here in the Pacific Northwest the sailboats, rollerbladers, and sun worshippers in general appear whenever the sun appears, spring, summer, fall or winter. People act like it’s always been summer and there’s no reason to forget it.

Luckily, most of us have been blessed with more than a single day of uninterrupted bliss, but it is those precious days that stay with us and make life as precious as it is.

I’ve started some serious walking again the last two days, and though I’m still winded when I climb the steepest hills and my calves ache at the end of the walk, I haven’t coughed once since I’ve begun and it’s hard to remember how much pain I was in the last few times I walked. It almost makes me wonder if I haven’t been suffering from a low-grade infection for quite awhile. Hopefully with snow falling in the mountains I’ll be up cross-country skiing shortly and once again forget what it feels like to live as a flatlander.

8 thoughts on ““Oh, Stormy, Stormy World”

  1. Perhaps the first sentence of your post was tongue-in-cheek, but if not: Frost was born in San Francisco and lived in California until he was 11.

  2. Yes, it was tongue-in-cheek.

    I’ve lived in both the Pacific Northwest and San Francisco, and, despite the fog, San Francisco does not get nearly the same kind of storms the Northwest does, nor apparently are the residents of San Francisco subject to quite the same levels of winter “depression” if some physicians are to be believed.

    There are apparently reasons why so many Norwegians chose to settle in Seattle.

  3. My bad. I haven’t spent enough time on the west coast to be very familiar with the details of north-south differences (gradations?) in weather and landscape.

    Winter “depression,” eh? People here on the east coast seem to talk about that quite a bit, too. But I’ve never experienced it. Winter’s always run a very close second (after autumn) to being my favourite time of year here, though. Something about the clarity of the light, I think, and the spare, pared-down shapes of maple, birch and poplar standing stark among spruce hunched into snowdrifts for months at a time.

  4. Here on the west side of the Cascade Mountains winter is generally quite mild, with very little real cold and very little snow.

    Instead you often get 6 months of relatively cloudy, and wet, weather. At times it’s even been known to stay cloudy and overcast until mid-July. It’s the apparent lack of sunshine that does depress some people, though I’ve never particularly felt that way.

  5. Inspired by your discussion of Frost’s poems, especially touched by “Reluctance”, I bought a used hardcover copy of his complete works this past weekend — lotsa good stuff!

    No lack of sunshine here in New Mexico! Today does seem to be one of the few exceptions, and you would know, tonight there’s a lunar eclipse. I hope it clears up by then.

  6. Glad to hear that I inspired another person to pick up Frost, Jamie. Though I read for myself, I think I post in hopes that others will be inspired to also read some of these poems

    He’s not my favorite poet, but there are a number of gems to be found in his Complete Poems.

    You might also want to check out grapez and Michael Sniders’ past entries because they’ve both been commenting on Frost.

  7. Re: Frost: “Happiness makes up….”

    Perhaps, Frost is writing about the weather,
    but I think not, or at least not so much,
    as he is telling us about the nature
    of happiness and how it’s measured
    in the moments of a relationship.

    The stormy world are all those things
    that distract us, “swirl” around us,
    as it were, and take us from each other
    so that our lives though moving about
    do not pause and touch each other.

    But in those days when we find
    solitude, when we pause to know each other
    when we build the bridges of a relationship
    are like sunny days, though few,
    where the intensity of happiness
    reaches so memorable a height
    that it makes up for what it lacks in depth.

    When Frost writes: “We went from house to wood
    For change of solitude,” he wasn’t talking
    about weather.

What do you think?