Making My Peace With Winter

“It’s as if some vague, indescribable danger lurks out there in all that silence, all that loneliness…”

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I think I’ve made my peace with winter. In the past it really got me down, but in my more thoughtful moments I can recognize the beauty in it’s desolation. Desolation has a sort of beauty. The coldness, the stillness, the bareness of the trees, the long shadows, short days and gray skies. It feels wrong, but you just have to embrace it. It’s like giving in to death, or a temptation of the Devil. It doesn’t feel right, it takes a leap of faith outside of normalcy to get there.

The beauty first hit me on a bike ride some years ago — it was near Thanksgiving, the time it starts getting cold in the daytime here. I was deep in the woods and when I stopped riding to take a break the distinct stillness immediately hit me. I could see my breath in the air, the trees were bare, the sky was gray and overcast. I’d seen no one all day. And it was just so…quiet. You could hear everything; a stick falls, the call of a cold, lonely bird. The world had been drained of color. The leaves were down and had assumed a dull, gray-brown color. The boulders on the sides of the trail looked more gray than usual, everything felt older, including myself.

I love taking late night walks on hot summer nights. At 3am the world still feels alive, there’s crickets, birds, bats. Moths flutter around light poles, crickets chirp in the grass. There’s a feeling of potential, as if anything can happen. Walking on winter nights has it’s appeal too, but going out this time of year is something you have to brace yourself for. You can’t just throw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and go. Nature is downright hostile, dangerous. That distinct roar of winter as the wind rushes through the bare trees and the dead calm that follows is enough to convince anyone they should be at home. It’s as if some vague, indescribable danger lurks out there in all that silence, all that loneliness…..

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Winter is a reality check, people say it makes us appreciate the warm months, which is true, but I think it’s got more purpose than that. It’s natures representation of the darker side of life; aging, mortality, death, loneliness. In the modern world we really try to ignore these things, and lessen their impact on our lives which is understandable. Not that we need a reminder that they exist, but winter for me at least is a reflective, inward time which forces us to see the fleeting mortality of life.

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#258

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the Seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the
Distance On the look of Death –
–Emily Dickinson

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