A one single word. Evocative..powerful…visual. I don’t think there is any other season that suggests such dark and desperate emotion.
That single word made up the first sentence of a short story I once studied written by Sholom Aleichem. Immediately – one could see..feel..hear..and almost taste the harsh barren coldness of life in the distant northeastern European shtetls. Women wrapped up in old rags. Men in their heavy coats. Merchant carts overloaded with their wares..being pushed and pulled thru the snow.
It brings to mind dark Dickensian scenes. Of beggar children in the streets of pre-Industrial-age London. Hungry. Cold. Pleading for food to nourish their bodies. The glow of the gas lamps thru the ever-falling snow. Hardship.
Romantic images from Dr. Zhivago and the cold hard struggle for both love and survival. Of Ayn Rand and her vivid descriptions of the harsh Siberian landscape. Howling winds. Drifting snow. Bone-chilling cold.
A season when the days are short..the nights long. When the temperatures often drop to well-below zero. When the snow often blows cold and angry. When the winds cut right thru to the bone. A season when – often – daily life is a struggle. To stay warm. To stay energized. To maintain hope when all seems so dark and endlessly hopeless.
It’s a season that is hard for many. Never-ending. Rendered in shades of only grey and white. Void of color. Void of nature’s energy and life. It can be so easy to lose a sense of perspective. That this – this beautiful cold white moment – is all we get. It’s all there is. In a few short months – it will be history.
No denying it. This winter – here in the northeast – has been like no other I can remember. One snowfall following another. Bitter cold. Icey clear. A pure white blanket covering the ground. Skies – that are either monochromatic grey - filled with falling snow..or blindingly bright winter blue.
And – I am loving it. All of it. Every windswept..snow blown..frosty minute.
For me – it represents a certain comfort. A familiarity. A warmth. A coming home.
As a northern girl growing up in Montreal we lived with this season. We dressed for it. We ate for it. We learned how to be outdoors in it. We skied. We skated. We spent long afternoons on our toboggans and sleds. We walked to and from school in it. Never a question of it being too cold..too wet..too windy. We embraced it…perhaps because we had no choice..or perhaps because the only way to the other side..is through.
And – I’ve missed that. All of these years – living in a more temperate..easier to navigate climate – I’ve missed those childhood winters…when all was perpetually white. When – in some ways – life was harder than it is easier…but so much more fun.
I wished for this winter. I hoped for it. I celebrated the first snow..and each one that followed. One ‘storm’ after another. Deip shnay. Belle neige. Snow that is so thick that if we get much more it will soon be covering our first floor windows.
I’m like a child again. Playful. Energized. Throwing myself down into its powdery softness..feeling its cold and wet against my face. Wrestling and playing with my dog. Watching and wishing to – once again – spend carefree days sledding at the park. Knowing that home was always within reach..and that there – I would be greeted with hot cocoa and cookies and love.
For some – I know – it’s a difficult season. A dark one. A hard one to embrace. But for me – winter is the season of light. Of bright white snow reflecting. Of knowing that what we have today..won’t be here tomorrow. This winter – for me - has been like wishing upon a star..and having that wish come true.
Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes - wishes DO come true!