To the memory of the household it describes, this poem is dedicated by the author…
Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed;
The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat’s dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger’s seemed to fall;
And, for the winter fireside meet,
Between the andirons’ straddling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October’s wood.
What matter how the night behaved?
What matter how the north-wind raved?
Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
Could quench our hearth-fire’s ruddy glow.
John Greenleaf Whittier
Because we are having short flurries of soft snow tonight. Because there is sweet red pepper soup to be blended soon: a tomato and chilli loaf rising on the stove. Because the cat has put himself to bed early, appalled by cotton wool falling from the sky. And because, despite my deep, dark overwhelming fear of the white stuff, tonight at least, no matter how the night behaves, we are cosy and safe…