October’s Surprise

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Fall’s colors blooming

Beauty consuming

Snow’s forecast looming

October’s surprise


Brightest leaves falling

Autumn’s paintballing

Is winter calling?

October’s surprise


Fall’s brilliance waning

Winter’s clouds reigning

Snowflakes now painting

October’s surprise


Season’s change scheming

White landscape beaming

Autumn daydreaming

October’s surprise


Leaves’ colors grieving

Wintertime leaving

Fall still believing

October’s surprise


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Time’s Transition

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Greeting darkness

Life’s constant foe

Silent journey

Absent shadow


Hidden purpose

Never speaking

Winter too long

Cold floor creaking


Blackness escapes

Bright light prevails

Time’s transition

Finding new trails


Hello sunshine

Life’s steadfast friend

Catching each smile

Day shall ascend


Sunglasses on

Joy filling heart

Now to catch up

Summer’s fun starts

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Winter’s Innocence (Haiku Series #168)


Fresh, fallen snowflakes

Morning’s glistening landscape—

Sparkling winter day

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From winter’s postcard

Covered with fresh, powder snow—

Majestic pines rise

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Calm valley meadow

Undisturbed snowy blanket—

Cautious buck deer waits

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Beware of November

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Calendar page turns to November

Autumn season filling with its peace

Colorful leaves have fallen away

Winds of winter begin to release


Temperatures cascading downward

Barren trees swaying and shivering

Farm fields ready for hibernation

Autumn’s harmony now quivering


Many say, beware of November

Her fading hues begin looking north

Arctic’s snowy cold now encroaching

Winter’s early surprise coming forth


Ranchers scurry to shelter cattle

Yards cheerfully display fall’s decor

Boldly hanging on to each strawman

Nothing postpones winter’s early chore


Harsh winds of November come and go

Sometimes with cold feints, or so much more

Chilling rain turns to ice, never nice

Winter’s snow, knocking at autumn’s door


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During my first year of teaching at Plevna Schools, found in southeastern Montana, I was greeted with a winter that I will always remember.  The first snowflakes and cold began arriving in early November, and they didn’t stop until late February.  Finally the chinook winds began to warm up the countryside, and ranchers and farmers were rejoicing.  After all, the winter one year earlier had included the famous blizzard of 1978.  

Seasons Eternal

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Mankind hurtles toward unknown

Nature’s seasons relay what’s known


Autumn prepares for transition

Holding off winter’s ambition


Both man and nature look ahead

Unearthing their most common thread


At times, life needs relaxing pause

Forsaking bright lights and applause


Terrain changes to snowy scene

Covering life white, without green


Man growls at cold, numbing weather

Spotting fireplace, warm together


Winter’s snowfall hiding its gems

Waiting for newest, greenest stems


Spring awakens frozen landscape

Encouraging life’s next escape


Man and nature again feel free

Twinkling eyes find each budding tree


Creator’s Spirit, love transcends

Seasons eternal, never end


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Nature’s Arrogance

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Summer-like weather arrives

Welcoming warmth, nature thrives


Snowy cold gone, long banished

Winter’s shadow, now vanished


Beaches open, pools start up

Outdoor chores now piling up


Paradise smiles, open now

But wait!  Winter’s final bow


Halt, recall nature’s humor

Winter’s back, not a rumor


Over Montana’s Big Sky

Snowflakes dance, find their bullseye


Cold and snow rudely drop in

Wrecking spring, crashing tailspin


How can this accident be?

Cold slides in, snow covers trees


Blessed with nature’s fairytale

Big Sky folks laugh, “Spring’s in jail”


Cornering winter’s good cheer

Just waiting a day my dear


Tomorrow’s change now coming

Spring’s freedom and homecoming


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A freak event of nature found Montana turned in a winter wonderland over a period of a couple of days.  In the meantime, nearly all of the United States was enjoying the arrival of an early summer.  At times, living under the Big Sky does require a sense of humor.

Winter’s Final Walk

This poem is written in a traditional sonnet style with 14 lines, and each line contains 10 syllables.  I was fortunate to witness this park one day before the rising temperatures would begin transforming the park from its winter look.

Sycamore trees lose some of their bark over time. The whitest branches truly glisten in the winter sunlight.

Invitation from warmer winter day

Insisting on afternoon nature hike

Snowy Walnut Woods, waiting with sunshine

Feeling welcome, childlike emotions strike


Deep snow lining each trail, bright white border

Dressing in cozy layers, feeling warm

Park’s newest treasures, eager to explore

Thankful for winter’s freedom from snowstorms


Ancient sycamore tree branches glisten

Discovering cross-country skiers’ trail

Beaver dam holds back frozen Big Run creek

Precious winter moments bless, without fail


Looming big thaw will erase winter’s scene

Memories filling life’s unending screen


A wintertime beaver dam backs up the frozen Big Run. It might not survive the spring runoff.

Winter’s Tranquility

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Winter’s tranquility

Landscape sleeps, quiet time

Stillness fills snow-chilled air

Nature pausing, in rhyme


Snowflake-covered prairie

Farmers’ fields taking rest

Cold freezes idle land

Always dressed in whitest vest


Russian olive trees rise

Steady breeze, branches sway

Magpies call this their home

Nature wanting to play


Nearby ranches, life slows

Cattle feeding on hay

Days shorter, nights longer

Winter’s cozy chalets


Season of rest, spring waits

Snow-filled humility

Nature takes its respite

Winter’s tranquility


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Bewitching Storm

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Nasty winter gale approaching

Forecast broadcasting storm warning

Heavy snow, high winds, Arctic cold

Village alarms sound by morning


Life transcends to total frenzy

Salt trucks loaded, very much ready

Snow plow crews set for night’s work

Village life scrambling, unsteady


Packed grocery stores in chaos

Hurried, panic-filled shopping carts

Shelves urgently growing empty

Village pace quickens beating hearts


Students anticipate closings

Looking forward, lazy “Snow Day”

No classes, no books, no lessons

Village hunkers down, people pray


Winter storm “Tabitha” churning

Pondering, bewitching blizzard

Overnight fury passes on

Village eluding storm’s wizard


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The Weather Channel has been naming winter storms in America since 2012-2013.  You may have picked up the connection between the “bewitching” blizzard and the name of the storm “Tabitha.”  Tabitha is one of the available winter storm names for the 2020-2021 winter.  Tabitha is also the daughter of Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) on the successful American sitcom “Bewitched” from 1964-1972.

Haunting Storm

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Pleasant, mid-winter day

Warm winds decide to stay


Touch of spring thaws the air

Ideal life, not a care


Hidden, in frigid North

Cold destined to call forth


Prairie living unaware

Grass uncovered, and bare


Few cowboys work the range

Life will soon see big change


Barren land, overgrazed

Cattle wander, unfazed


Calmness warns of trouble

Winter’s wrath comes double


Arctic-fed winds stir up

Wet snow creates pileup


Haunting storm now arrives

Few cattle will survive


Blizzard smothers this land

Conditions, out of hand


Cowboys wait out fierce storm

Snow and cold, nasty swarm


Waiting, hours become days

Prairie, now winter’s maze


Cattle’s cries go unheard

Snow-blinded, vision blurred


Storm’s cruel hand, plays its cards

Life stops, prairie graveyards 


Montana artist Charles M. Russell captures the shattered blow of winter’s fury in “Waiting for a Chinook” (“Last of Five Thousand”) as depicted in this watercolor. (Courtesy of Pinterest)

This poem attempts to capture the daunting winter of 1886-1887 on the prairies in the Montana Territory when the Open Range’s cattle industry collapsed from its near annihilation.  Russell’s artwork says even more than words can describe.