Once Upon a Northern Night
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As the young child sleeps, wrapped in a downy blanket, a snowflake falls, and then another and another. The poem describes the forest of snow-covered pines, where a deer and fawn nibble a frozen apple, and a great gray owl swoops down with its feathers trailing through the snow. Two snowshoe hares scamper and play under the watchful eyes of a little fox, and a tiny mouse scurries in search of a midnight feast. When the snow clouds disappear, stars light up the sky, followed by the mystical shimmering of northern lights - all framed by the frost on the window.
Jean E. Pendziwol's lyrical poem reflects a deep appreciation of the magic of a northern winter night where, even as a child slumbers, the world outside does not rest but continues its own natural rhythms.
Isabelle Arsenault's spare, beautifully rendered illustrations, with their subtle but striking use of color, make us feel that we too are experiencing the enchantment of that northern night. They simultaneously evoke winter's nighttime life and the cozy warmth and security of a beloved child's sleep.
assembled digitally. Design by Michael Solomon
northern night a mother deer led her fawn around the silent birch and traced a wandering path on my canvas of white. They nuzzled the sleeping garden with memories of summer, then wandered off to taste the frozen fruit still clinging to an apple tree. Once upon a northern night a great gray owl gazed down with his great yellow eyes on the milky-white bowl of your yard. Without a sound, not even the quietest whisper, his great
silent wings lifted and down, down, down he drifted, leaving a feathery sketch of his passing in the snow. Once upon a northern night two snowshoe hares scampered and chased as they played a nighttime game of tag. The fox, in his auburn coat and long black boots, wanted to play, too. But the hares became silent and oh so still, crouched beneath the winter-bare dogwood, playing hide-and-seek until the fox gave up and
appeared — twinkling points of light hanging in the purple sky. I knew by the time you woke, the sun would have chased them away, so I set them like diamonds on the branches of the willow. Once upon a northern night melodies of green and pink and orange sang across the sky. I tried to capture them but they were much too nimble, and only their rhythm reached you, deep in slumber, rising and falling with each sweet,
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