Out In the Fields With the Dogs Two Weeks Before Christmas

In the midst of it all, there can be light, perhaps even a kind of joy–Greta Thunberg has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

Let’s have this “”little child’ lead us.

And let’s follow the Clumber Spaniels we once got to live with…

Out in the Fields with the Dogs Two Weeks before Christmas

Their great white heads take me
deeper into the snow. They lift
their noses into the wind-soaked
air, then push further into the drifts,
finding the lost smells in the roots,
weeds, and matted ground cover. They
know the deer have walked here,
their own heads lifted high into
the morning. I can only imagine
what worlds fill the dogs’ heads,
what takes form from the thousand
smells we can never know, their
dreams made from all these grasses,
mud, scat, and fur. Maybe something
takes the scents and stirs them into
some bewilderment of wolves
walking a ridge. We walk on.
At home, the Christmas tree,
trimmed with strings of tiny lights,
glitter-covered glass, tinsel, angels,
nesting birds, toy drums, and
the withering paper globes we
made when we were children,
stands in a back window. You
are baking kolaces, baking them
the way my father did, rolling
the soft dough over the apricots,
raisins, apples, and poppy seed.
The snow is falling harder. The dogs
look back, then come to my side, sit
and gnaw at the ice frozen to their feet.
This year it will be the two of us,
and the dogs. We’ve been told
the full moon is to be the brightest
it’s been in 90 years. We’ll watch
it out the bedroom window as it
crosses through the trees, low
in the southern sky, the dogs
asleep at the foot of the bed.

–Jack Ridl

Published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

I hope you will skim back through this year’s posts for books by writers I think you would appreciate and books to consider giving to someone for a holiday gift.


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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

14 thoughts on “Out In the Fields With the Dogs Two Weeks Before Christmas

  1. Good Morning Jack, Really enjoyed your poem today. The mention of Kolaces reminds me of my mother who always made them around the holidays. Wonderful memories. Hope all is well and you are feeling better each day. Take care, Frank


    • So good to know that we connected with t;his one, Frank.
      And thank you so much for alerting Tom N to pick me up. It was
      good being back with that gang.
      Hope you, too. are doing better each day!

  2. Jack. This one reminds me. I so often talk to my dogs on our daily walks. We stop at the crest of Foothill Road and turn to see Moscow Mountain and the Palouse hills with newly planted winter wheat and I check to make sure they are appreciating the way the clouds dip low and and the way the wind creates conversation with the Avista wires.

  3. Jack. Thank you for your thoughtful posts and beautiful poems all year. I keep in my mind the image of the spaniels lifting their noses in the cold Christmas air. Happy holidays to you, your wife, pets and loved ones from all of us at Ludington Writers, especially me. Jeanie Mortensen P.s. we are hosting Joy Harjo, poet laureate of the United States, this June. Check our web site. It is a big deal for us. Hope you can come hear her read at the waterfront. Pass the word.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • How wonderful to hear from you and with such a lovingly kind message.
      My thanks are in abundance.

      Years ago Joy came to the college for the JRVWS and stayed with us. She wanted
      to know if there was a roller coaster nearby. She collected, at least back then,
      roller coaster rides. We drove by a mall and I asked her what she saw when
      she looked at it. She quietly said, “A forest.”

      Wow, what a coup you guys pulled off–the Poet Laureate!!!! How wonderful.
      When Billy Collins was Poet Laureate, he and I read in New York City at
      Christmas just after 9/11. Can you imagine!

      Hugs and Christmas

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