“Needlework and seedlings / In the way you’re walking / To me from the timbers / Faded from the winter.” Could there be a more beautiful way to articulate the particular delicacy of a woman as she approaches, perhaps for the first time, but probably for the last? The phrasing is careful, as fine-boned as she is. Any other way to describe her shape or depict her walk would blot her out; snap her in two.
The song is from Iron & Wine’s first album, The Creek Drank The Cradle, a masterpiece of morose folk and the only Iron & Wine album for me. An ever-present hiss mutes its already smudged edges, finger-picked guitar nestles wearily into its campfire-warm strum and Sam Beam’s voice rarely lifts above a murmur; all of it sounding old enough to have existed, exhausted, before the Appalachians rose.
What news does the woman bring? Will she say anything at all? I imagine them sitting in silence on a broad verandah somewhere in America’s south with a love expressed not in words but in nature’s unfolding exposition as afternoon sighs into evening. ‘Faded From The Winter’ doesn’t make me cry for any love I’ve ever lost, but for one I’ll never know – an inchoate ache for a silent, southern-style love and for the enduring romance of something strongly felt yet never spoken. “You’re the poem of mystery / You’re the prayer inside me.”