The view from my desk in Chicago. It's a good day for writing.

Back in the farm country of rural southwest Missouri, one of my old man's favorite pastimes during our occasional white Christmases is to read "Snow-Bound," an 1866 narrative poem by John Greenleaf Whittier. It reminisces about the getting stuck in the family homestead and hunkering down to tell stories to each other in front of the fire.

Here's a taste of the longer version:

A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
Meanwhile we did our nightly chores,
Brought in the wood from out the doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd's-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows.

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