The First Day of Winter

Antelope Island at dawn. Photo by David Collins

By David Collins — A Cyclist’s Ode to Clement Clarke Moore

Twas the first day of winter and out on the road,
not a creature was stirring, not even a toad;

My stockings were chilly but covered by booties,
and my helmet was fastened to keep out the cooties;

At college our daughters were humming along,
with husbands they sang the honeymoon song;

And Mama in her Subie and me in a groove,
had just opened our Friday and started to move;

When out on the causeway there arose not a clatter,
no traffic, no wind, not a care seemed to matter;

Away in my saddle I flew in a flash,
pumping legs on my pedals in a winter’s first dash;

The sun on the back side of snow clouds and fog,
gave the luster of morning during miles to log;

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
two hungry coyotes – faces bunched up in a sneer;

With a haunting look in their eyes, they were lively and quick,
I knew in a moment they weren’t sent from St, Nick;

Glancing in time to see two eagles up high,
with migratory fowls floating below ‘em, oh my;

I thought of old colleagues, and call’d them their names:

Now! Biff, now!
Leonard, now!
Luannda and Bob,

On! Brauna, on! Sarah, on!
George and Miss Dobb,

To your migration path!
To the south you should go,

Now dash away! Dash away!
In the season’s flow!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the sky lanes the coursers they flew,
with their internal Garmins and flapping wings too;

And then in a twinkling, I saw just to my right,
prancing and dancing of water and light;

As I double double-taked and was turning around,
to my left the same dance appeared without sound;

As if diamonds on water they danced light of foot,
their clothes white like lightning (not covered in soot);

Ahead on the ride there were also some deer,
not rein, but still antlered and all in good cheer;

Their eyes how they twinkled, and from their snouts came white steam,
and their hooves were two-stepping in rhythm as team;

My brother spotted a badger to port in the brush,
a chucker or two his scurry would flush;

He was chubby and plump, but not jolly or pleased,
and sharp teeth he bared brightly and snarled not sneezed;

And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;

A blink of his eye and a twist of his head,
soon led me to know I’d be wise to pause, perhaps dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
snooping the sage and; then turn’d away with a jerk;

The ride didn’t finish til more creatures were spotted,
bison, pronghorns, jackrabbits and big rams as they trotted;

There were others like owls,
and away they all flew,
so many species of elegant fowls,
like James Audubon drew;

At last …. as the ride ended,
I had to exclaim, before evening light bended:

What a place, what a sight—
Happy Winter to all, and to all a good night!

David Collins is a cycling enthusiast and amateur randonneur. Follow him on Instagram @rockypumpkin.

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