A Deep Winter
By g.l. bass (the ghostbear still lives)
February 2004

It has been
One of the deepest winters
We have had in years.
The snow in the woods
Lies in layers.
Following trails
Is almost guess work.
At times( when you think
that you’ve done your best
to stay on the trail)
Marking low Sun in the west,
Dark blue skies in the east,
The wind chasing you down,
Quietly shedding it’s northern secrets
Through the tops of crowded Ponderosas,
Down in the bottom of a kettle,
Knee-deep in week old snow,
You realize,
You’ve really wandered off the trail.
You've been
Following some dream
You thought you captured
In the sun glint in your eyes.
Or some adventure mapped out
By some snowshoe adventurer
You’d swear you understood
But really never met.
Or a secret promise
Of a ghost herd who wandered
Down inside the stomach
Of this Ponderosa forest,
Like you,
Merely to rest out the storm.
Unlike you,
They weren't

But what you find is that
You’ve really wandered
Off the trail,
Down into the bottom
Of a deep gulley
Where even winter
Can’t hide a wandering spring
Penciling it’s way through
Deep drifts,
Deep beneath
Heavy hung in snow layers.
Yet you can still hear
Its small voice whispering
The promise of life
In the cold, crystal clear
Water which flows so quickly
Down the steep side
Of these kettle walls
It will not freeze.

In the end,
While you’ve really
Lost your way,
You've found ,
Not the end of the adventurer’s tale,
Not the magic hideout of a mysterious herd,
Not even the solution to the dream
You thought you had,
But a small whisper
Of new life-
As if it was only
Meant for you,
This day, this hour,
This moment,
Whispering from beneath
Deep Winter’s best attempt
To hide it and freeze it

But it is here,
Flowing quickly,
Should you just stoop
To drink it,
To taste it’s promise,
It will satisfy any thirst
You’ve built up from
Your wandering ways,
Your lost adventure,
Your climb to the bottom
Now knee-deep
Soft, crystalline snow.

You must examine your choices.
You’ve drunk your fill.
Now you must decide.
Do I climb back out
The way I came?
Do I follow the old tracks
Of the former snowshoe adventurer?
Or, do I make my own way-
Up through the thickets,
Up the steep walls
Of the deep rocky Kettle,
Climbing out in knee-deep snow,
Climbing out where
No one has gone before,
Climbing out
To find your way again,
To find a new trail,
That in the end,
Will take you exactly
Where you wanted to go
In the very beginning.
Up and out from
D eep Winter’s forest,
You discover
Where your home really is.

Squinting up through bright
Afternoon sun,
Staring its’ way back down upon you,
The glare off the snow shimmering
Like millions of jewels cast
Out across the bottom of this
Deep Kettle,
You know you must decide.
It’s time to move on.
The sun will not hold back
The darkness much longer.
And in darkness there is less
Hope of finding the right trail
That will guide you
On the right way home.
There really isn’t any decision.
Each time you think about it,
Whether you turn into the sun,
Up against bright blue sky
Beyond the spire like tall pines,
Or back against the voices of the wind,
You really knew,
All along
What your choice would be,
What it has to be.
So, you venture forth
On your own,
One deep step at a time,
And there isn’t any
Dream or question
About it after all.