I am nearing the end of my residency. Winter has come, and walking on a whim has become a bit more restrained because of cold temperatures. I decided to let V stay in her warm classroom and go it alone this time.
I went again to the Art Gallery of Ontario and visited the exhibition Mystical Landscapes. I was immediately taken by a few paintings of paths leading through woods. In particular I liked George Lacombe’s Forest with Red Ground, and Gastaf Fjaestad’s Winter Moonlight. Both works invited me in to walk amidst the trees. I was reminded of a favourite poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, by Robert Frost. When V was younger she had this poem memorized. We used to recite it while I pushed her on a swing. I had to memorize this poem at school and I have loved it ever since.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Poem by Robert Frost
I decided to walk this snowy painting home to V in my memory and to tell her about it when I arrived. We also tried to recite the poem. She doesn’t remember it at all anymore.
Here we are almost at the darkest evening of the year, and the streets are full of snow. For a while now I often feel that I have miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep – the pull of obligation of responsibility.
Here’s to stopping a bit longer in those woods!
Winter Moonlight by Gastaf Fjaestad 1895
(featured image: Forest with Red Ground by George Lacombe 1891.)