Oh the weather outside is . . . actually it’s been rather freakish. We’ve gone from single digits three days ago to 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) yesterday to blustery wind and snow squalls today. Pennsylvania is one of those places in which they say, “If you don’t like the weather here, wait a minute.” Unless of course it was last week and the week before when we seemed to be in a perpetual cold snap.
So my plans to get photos of the Susquehanna frozen over came to naught this week, or more specifically to slush. I was thinking that it’s been since 2007 since she has been completely iced over, but I am told just two years ago we had a good freeze also. The memory fades. It must be the cold.
It does look like there are some good spots where, at least from the road, the water appears mostly solid on the North Branch Danville. And my youngest son, the Monkey up north, got some photos (which I have yet to see! Ah hem!) of the frozen West Branch at Lock Haven. But unfortunately I was driving south with my optical equipment this weekend.
All of this trekking about looking for river ice was in hopes of finally producing a video reading of “Ask Me,” by poet William Stafford. If I do manage to get some good ice river footage I will record a YouTube version of this, but for now below is my reading on SoundCloud, a great little site I’ve been experimenting with.
I first heard this poem read by Stafford himself, well not in person, but via video in an English class in Indiana, circa 1992, about a year before Stafford’s death. I was so impressed with this man’s quiet wisdom, not to mention his gift for metaphor. I wish I had heard him read live. I haven’t been able to find his reading of this anywhere online, so in honor of Stafford, and the poem that got me hooked on his work, here we go.
by William Stafford
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.
“Ask Me” copyright 1977, 1998 by the Estate of William Stafford.
From The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems
Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota
- Why Billy Collins and I Are Not on Speaking Terms Right Now (dadpoet.wordpress.com)
- Moving to Encourage Good Fortune (themidlifesecondwife.com)
- William Stafford on the Moon and the Earth, and End of the World (dadpoet.wordpress.com)
- Grand River ice jam in Grand Haven leads to flooding concerns for Ottawa County riverfront (mlive.com)
- DEP says Susquehanna River isn’t environmentally impaired (dailyitem.com)
- Dog Rescued from Ice in NJ River (nbcnewyork.com)
- Snow squall warning issued for areas north of London (lfpress.com)
- High wind, temperatures dropping today (vttoday.com)
- William Stafford Birthday Celebration, Tea Pot Show: Washington County Weekend (oregonlive.com)