March: "Ice Mountain" by Dave Bonta

"...get a bowl of snow
not to eat but just to admire
like a bowl of cut flowers."
-  from "Ice Mountain" by Dave Bonta

March heralds spring in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, but not here in Québec, where it is still a winter month, even when the snow thaws to slush and on a specially warm day, we feel the sun's warmth on our faces.

"Not so fast", March says in my adopted city, Montréal. If you left your hat behind and the sun has set, you'll be cast backward to January's freeze. Still, we make a stab at spring: the markets fill with maple syrup and its offspring. la tire, boiled and reduced maple syrup poured over a mound of snow.

As the the days lengthen and the clock "springs forward", Northern people say, "We're out of the woods; we made it through another winter." We scan the sky for returning birds; the air begins to carry organic smells again. Markets sell forced forsythia and pots of tulips but we're wary: Don't pack your boots away, we tell one another.


I'm hosting a draw for one free print copy of a just-released book of poetry which includes an exploration of the inner and outer markers of this ephemeral, elegant season, when nothing quite happens on a timetable.

"Ice Mountain: An Elegy", is poet and naturalist Dave Bonta's most recent work; you can read the publisher's review here.  The setting in the northern mountaintops of Pennsylvania, USA, is illustrated by Elizaeth Adams, whose linocuts are in themselves a gift.

If you would like to enter the draw, please leave a comment saying you would like to participate by midnight (EST) March 5; I will publish the name drawn from a toque, and announce it on the blog on March 7. I will ask the winner to e-mail me with an address for postal delivery.

Digital editions are also available, but I still love to hold a beautiful book in my hands and thought you would, too.


20 comments

leslie sobel said...

We Michiganders are in that same situation of thinking maybe spring only to get snow and a big temperature drop overnight. Far too soon to put the warm clothing and boots away on this bitter icy morning!

Margie from Toronto said...

I would love to be entered in the draw. And I know exactly what you mean about it not being quite the time to give up our winter wear as yet. We've had some lovely sunny & warm days over the past couple of weeks here in Toronto but last night the temperatures plummeted again and this morning it is -16C with the windchill factor and there was a howling wind all night! And temps are to stay below or at freezing for the next week so winter is not finished with us just yet!

Jane said...

Oh, Duchesse how poetic. That is exactly how I am feeling! The snow, the ice, the slush, the cold and the colds... And yet the birds seem a little more active, flocking, calling soon, very soon.

Mary said...

It is the time of year I follow our dogs to the south side of the house to have my coffee outside on the steps. It is too early to take out the patio chairs, but many days I can take off my coat and soak up some sunshine. Would love to be entered in the drawing.

Jane said...

It's still winter here too in the northwest US, though the snow and ice have mostly melted from the streets so walking safely is possible again. I would love to be entered in your drawing.

materfamilias said...

I would be delighted with a copy of the book! In fact, you've reminded me that I meant to order a copy for myself -- so if I win yours, I'll have a second one to give to a friend...
Your own description of a northern winter is very lyrical itself. Thank you! You remind me why I won't mind putting up with rain for the next month or so here on the far West Coast....

Paula said...

I'm in Florida, a transplant from NH. How well I remember being in March, January, and May on the same day. Would love to read his poems.

Anne Cain said...

I wish to participate. Your blog always delights me - thoughtful topics; good writing; talk about jewelry; mature point of view but still open to learning. Thank you.
Here in Santa Fe, New Mexico we share some of your weather concerns. At 7000 ft. we can change from balmy to snowy in a flash but that intense sun is never too far away.

lagatta à montréal said...

I believe that the Indigenous inhabitants divided the seasons differently - yes, of course the length of the days was important and more so as one approaches the poles, but I don't think they described this time of year (when the sap starts to run, providing much needed nutrients as well as taste) and the rivers break up in the more southerly areas, using the same term as the heart of the winter. Nor as the sweeter, flowering springtime.

We have a nasty cold snap right now, and blustery March wind. But then it will turn milder again... Le temps des sucres?

lagatta à montréal said...

I believe that the Indigenous inhabitants divided the seasons differently - yes, of course the length of the days was important and more so as one approaches the poles, but I don't think they described this time of year (when the sap starts to run, providing much needed nutrients as well as taste) and the rivers break up in the more southerly areas, using the same term as the heart of the winter. Nor as the sweeter, flowering springtime.

We have a nasty cold snap right now, and blustery March wind. But then it will turn milder again... Le temps des sucres?

Lisbeth Klebba said...

Ooooh! I so love poetry... Please enter me in the drawing! When my sons were small, I asked them for poems for my birthday every year. Some were their favorites, copied onto notebook paper, some illustrated, and others theor original work. I treasure these, and still look at them when nostalgia creeps in.

Northmoon said...

I'd like a copy of this book, for the lithographs as well as the poetry. You cover such a variety of interesting topics on your blog.

Carol Woodard said...

I read the poem at the beginning and immediately I imagined sugar-on-snow. As I read your post, the smile on my face grew bigger and bigger. We are preparing for sugaring season here (just south of the Quebec border) and knowing that you, in the big city of Montreal, are thinking of the sweet stuff as well, brings a special kind of kinship to those of us who love our liquid gold.

Unknown said...

I would love a copy of the book. I grew up in the Ottawa area and remember going out to a sugar shack to have pancakes and new maple syrup. There would be sleigh rides into the bush and you could sample the syrup on the snow. I have not thought of this in years.
I now live on the West Coast on an island and do not miss the cold and snow....and the never ending slush.

Ali

Jill said...

Bonjour, Duchesse! I'd love to be included in the drawing. As always, your posts are interesting and timely. As a New Englander I know exactly what March means in all its glory. As we turn nature'sw corner this month, we are reminded of Shelley...If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Patsy said...

Dear Duchesse,
Please put my name in your toque (& then pull it out first!)
I have appreciated your blog for quite some time, especially the entries on aging and friendship. I'm embarrassed that it took this drawing to get me to comment. Thank you for the gift of sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.

lagatta à montréal said...

Rachel Roddy again, on minestrone, for materfamilias and la Duchesse and for this unnameable time of year: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/feb/28/italian-minestrone-soup-recipe-rachel-roddy-a-kitchen-in-rome

Mary W. said...

Would be lovely to read some poetry now. I just love that late winter morning when you step outside and suddenly hear birdsong again, which happened just a couple of weeks ago here in Connecticut.

Rita said...

We went to a maple syrup festival in northern Indiana today and saw demonstrations of syrup gathering and making from ancient times to modern days, ate some maple treats and left with some of those candies that look like little maple leaves - yum!

materfamilias said...

Oh thank you! I've recently discovered Roddy (was that through you?) but missed this and I do love a hearty bowl of minestrone.