The light in the morning is dim and the cold wind carries the damp of the earth with it. Leaves are scarce on the trees, and all around there's a feeling of solemnity; out of memorium for the end of one season, or out of reverence for the cold months ahead, I couldn't say. The cows hang their heads in their muddy fields. The valley is silent but for the creaking of trees, as if they're trying to shake off the last of their clinging leaves. Fall, like bated breath, is expectant; an uneasy Advent.

Brown and gray give way to white, and now the snow is come.

No more golden morning rides or corners quickly taken. No more solitary journeys on unknown roads. No more seeking for the sake of never finding.

I've winterized my motorcycles: topped off their tanks and dribbled in some Star Tron stabilizer, sprayed S100 Corrosion Protectant on exposed metal, and hidden them beneath their Oxford covers. I'll wait a good six months until the salt is washed off the roads to ride again.

I’m reluctantly confined indoors. Standing at the window clutching a coffee mug, I keep watch for the snow plow that’s supposed to come and clear our long gravel driveway on this, the season’s first snow day. Schools are canceled and the world’s comings and goings are brought to a temporary halt.

It’s another winter to make it through.

Wintery back yard looking to woods
The view from the author’s front porch.Seth Richards

A few days before the snow came, I happened to grab my grandmother's Modern Library edition of The Poems of Robert Frost off the bookshelf, and every morning I've taken to reading a few lines aloud to my five-month-old son. Perhaps it's a curious sort of thing to read to an infant, but Frost's ruminations are infused with an idyllic ordinariness that seems fitting to my station, and the sound of verse—as practically every children's book attests—seems fitting for my son's. Besides, we don't have a lot to talk about yet.

After giving him his “second breakfast” bottle, I open the worn volume and read “Reluctance.” I’m drawn particularly to the last two stanzas:

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question ‘Whither?’
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

Robert Frost poetry and Motorcyclist magazine
Winter reading.Seth Richards

Frost perfectly conveys our unwillingness to give in to winter’s stillness. Only, I wish it wasn’t the truth. For the motorcyclist, perhaps more than for the average person, it’s difficult to settle into the season. As I look out the window, I dream of roads untraveled. I breathe in the memory of riding past fields of fresh-cut hay and corn drying on the stalk. My hands ache for the feel of the handlebars. I can’t help but ever be in the saddle of my motorcycle, even while I sit in the nursery as snow falls beyond the icy window pane.

My heart is still aching to seek.

Maybe motorcyclists are more restless at heart than most. We are perpetual wanderers, vagrants by choice, wayfarers by habit. And we don’t have to travel to far-flung places to get away; a motorcycle trip, even a short one to the corner store, is a journey that takes us out of the ordinary and out of ourselves. Which makes it difficult to be still. It makes it difficult to wait.

But wait we must. As Frost would have it, in waiting we commit treason against our own nature and desires. But, in a way, to wait becomes an honorable treason, for it is a reminder that a will confined is a will in its proper place. Nature demands that our natures be subservient. There’s a world beyond our windows, our windscreens, our helmet visors. And it hems us in on all sides.

Yet waiting, in some respects, is a kind of wandering. In the interlude, we stray from the chosen roads that make up the course of our lives. We are forced out of our desires and into a region sparsely populated, often undesirable, and unknown. It can be familiar territory for motorcycle riders. Even if the cold bike sitting forlorn in the garage makes it more difficult, motorcyclists, it seems to me, should be masters of waiting.

Snowy winter field
Fields at rest.Seth Richards

Frost writes in “Dust of Snow,” that when a crow on a hemlock tree shakes a dusting of snow onto him, it changes his mood “And saved some part / Of a day I had rued.” It seems a simple thing—and overly sentimental for the modern temperament—but perhaps there’s something to it. To find in stillness, movement. To find in waiting, contentment.

I cradle my son and gaze out with him at a world freshly white. He knows naught from waiting, for what else could there be? He knows no seasons, only now. I’ll wait with him. And when the world springs to life again, he’ll begin to know what waiting is. My hibernating motorcycles will be roused for another season of riding, and I’ll know it will have been worth the wait.