I was out for a ride in the woods earlier today with my daughter and father-in-law. We circled around my in-law’s property: down a hill to the lower field with its cut cornstalks still protruding from the ground, along the banks of a full and unusually serene Black River which borders the back of their land, past our old dog Sparky’s grave marked with a boulder, and then skirted the upper field before returning home. The snow was falling quietly but heavily. As we drove through the gray woods that were gradually being flocked with the new snow, we spied white-tailed deer keeping a close eye on us along with a flock of wild turkeys. The picturesque settings brought to my mind the words of Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The last stanza especially echoed in my thoughts with seemingly appropriate sentiments as another year draws to a close and a new one prepares for launch.
Whose woods are these I think I know.
His house is in the village though.
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
It’s been a good year. It’s been a challenging year. There is so much yet to be done in my family, friendships, and church, not to mention the people and the opportunities lying ahead of me that I know nothing of at this point in time. One of the many things I enjoy about the holiday season is the opportunity to eventually slow down and reflect on what is and what has been. But I don’t pause for long because a new year awaits. As I look ahead I do so with anticipation, and with the keen realization that I have “promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”