Thursday, January 14, 2016

January Joy

Hello, and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit for our resident beekeeper-poet at Keri Recommends for Roundup.

January has already been a full month for me -- this week our youngest son turned 16 (I am officially off carpool duty! A new chapter has begun...), and I got back in the saddle with my first school visit after a long break. I'm grateful to teacher/librarian-student Bethany Venable at Lake View Elementary who made my visit so smooth and wonderful... and to the students for their curiosity and enthusiasm! Here are a few pics:

writing workshop!

a card signed by all 300 + students who attended the assembly!

Bertha, part of the front office welcoming committee :)

the whole crew, ready to get on with things!
(we had the lights dimmed to better see the powerpoint)

And now a  poem I love, from a book I featured before (and will feature again!): A CHILD'S CALENDAR by John Updike, illus. by Trina Schart Hyman.

by John Updike

The days are short,
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.

Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor,
and parkas pile up
Near the door.

The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees' black lace.

The sky is low.
the wind is gray.
The radiator
Purrs all day.

Finally, I invite you to read my Spiritual Thursday post which includes an original poem "I Could Say I Believe in the Ocean." Wishing everyone a warm, happy weekend!


  1. "January Joy"--I admire your motherly serenity--and joy!--in the face of a son with a driver's license! (Is he, perchance, the musical heavyweight, lyricist-singer son?) Good for you (and for him!)...In Updike's poem, I love the surprising words "the dark and the dark." Hmmm...Need to ponder that, and what it was, instead of one of those repeated words that I expected. God bless you; thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Love this! Although not a fan of winter, I admit it has many redeeming qualities - and that purring is one!

  3. I love this 'calendar' by John Updike, Irene, have read and shared it often through the years. And I did read your poem for Carol. It is a thoughtful post and poem to cherish. I imagine your son is a happy person this week!

  4. Up north we can so relate to the sun being
    "Hung thin between
    The dark and dark"
    Dark mornings and dark afternoons make scant room for any sun! Love this poem!
    Winter is such a terrible time to have a son get a license here in Maine anyway! We prefer them to have plenty of summer roads to practice more on before ice and snow! But, no matter then weather, it is always nerve-wracking for a mother!

  5. I love that book, too. Hmm, wonder what happened to my copy!

  6. Irene, the January poem is so inviting. Time to just sit inside and be creative. Thanks for sharing that. Fat snowy footsteps/Track the floor is something I have not experienced yet but no complaints. I can muse about something other than winter chill. Please start thinking about offering a winter poem for my new venture that I will invite everyone to.

  7. A chilly, rainy day here... Cats are balled up and not purring at the moment.
    Congrats on this new chapter in family life (I remember that transition - a little bittersweet, but freeing, too!) and on the school visit, where you were obviously appreciated. :0)

  8. I have no idea how I could have missed (not noticed?) this John Updike collection! I just put it on reserve at the library. Happy January, Irene! I also enjoyed the pix from your school visit. I expect there are probably a few more on the horizon with two new books this season!

  9. You introduced me to this book awhile back. I checked it out of the library, but I'm thinking I may need my own copy. "The radiator purrs all day," takes me back to my college dorm room. They didn't always purr, oftentimes they clanked! :)

  10. Your post brings joy to this January day, Irene. The lines of Updike's poem:"parkas pile up/Near the door" resonates with me from my days living in Wisconsin. (don't tell anyone, but I don't actually miss those days...=)

  11. I used to have that book--I hope whoever I gave it to is still enjoying it! "January" sounds a lot like today in Wisconsin. I love the image of the river as "Held still beneath / The trees' black lace." Thank you!

  12. Isn't it funny how a month can be full immediately? Congrats to you and your son! Love that poem every time I read it :-)

  13. This is such a beautiful collection of poems. I find myself returning to it often. Irene, my little one turns 16 tomorrow. Can you believe they are almost grown?

  14. Thanks for sharing this beautiful poem, Irene. So different from the January I have in Australia. Congratulations on getting back in the saddle with your school visits - it's such a lovely part of being an author.

  15. Oh, that spark of a sun! This collection is one of my all-time favorites. My edition is illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert, whom I love. One of the few childhood books I still have is my copy of James and the Giant Peach with her illustrations. So beautiful!

  16. That sun is our Ohio winter sun for sure!

  17. I know you're enjoying your 16-year-old, and your school visit looks like a lot of fun. So enjoyed your Updike poem. I'm reading a lot of January poems lately and am amazed at how much beauty poets can find in this often somber month. Thanks!

  18. You get a gold star for being first to link up! Hurray for school visits that go so well! I don't know what I would do if I had a winter like the one you shared. :-)Happy new season . . .

  19. 'The dark and the dark' and 'the trees' black lace' - wonderful visuals! Yay for satisfying school visits, and sharing the passion and joy of words.

  20. I very distinctly remember that feeling when carpool was finally done. It is a frightening, glorious moment.

  21. What an exciting January for you - love seeing the photos of the children during your school visit - and this book is unfamiliar to me - a John Updike poetry book for children - and illustrated by Hyman! I have to find it! Thanks for sharing, Irene.


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