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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Winter Dark

Air Date: Week of December 17, 1999

Commentator Susan Carol Houser, and a small house guest, burrow in for the coming winter.

Transcript

CURWOOD: The days will soon be getting longer, but the cold and dark of winter will stay with us for weeks to come. Commentator Susan Carol Hauser and a small houseguest are burrowing in for the long haul.

HAUSER: In northern Minnesota, it is clearly winter. Like some birds and animals and people, the sun has gone south, and no longer has the power of a clock. During the day we hardly seem to notice the light. It is something that is happening to the south and does not have much to do with us.

The lake and even the ground are frozen, suspended in time for the duration. I slow down as well, and find myself sitting after dinner with needlework in my hands, tugging bright threads from side to side through the fine woven fabric.
I am not the only one industrious in the long dark. At the bird feeder, a deer mouse, no bigger than my thumb, also works into the night. On the other side of the window she rummages in the pile of seeds, finding the best ones to carry into the house. I know all of her favorite pantries. The toe of my boot. The thread drawer in my sewing box. And the bulb top of the turkey baster in the kitchen drawer. For every line of stitching I complete, she completes a round trip between grocery and home.

She is weaving a tapestry that will sustain her in the many dark and cold weeks yet to come. I know how she feels. As long as the sun hovers near the southern horizon, the mercury in the thermometer stays shriveled in its little glass burrow, and I am more dedicated to my evening task. After supper I leave dishes on the table and do not put away food. I want only to bend over my colored yarns and enter the fairy world of French knots and split stitches.

I sit in the light from just one lamp. My fingers skitter back and forth across the fabric, pulling my needle up and down through minute passages. Like the deer mouse, I am counting out the dark, weaving a tapestry that will sustain me in the many cold weeks yet to come.

(Music up and under)

CURWOOD: Commentator Susan Carol Hauser is author of Sugartime: The Hidden Pleasures of Making Maple Syrup. She comes to us from KNBJ in Bemidji, Minnesota. You're listening to NPR's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.

 

 

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