A Little Ode to Winter

I love winter. Maybe it’s just my New England heritage, but you know, I really enjoy it when the temperature drops below freezing outside and there are eight or ten inches of snow on the ground.

Suited up to ski!

I love when it’s cold enough outside that I can taste the air as I breathe in, and I have to bundle up in layers of sweatshirts, snow pants, parkas, boots, hats, scarves, and gloves to go outside. It adds a sense of adventure to the mundane: the need for extra preparations makes even familiar locales more exotic! It’s like outfitting for a hike in the desert, or (for me, growing up) preparing to explore a strange alien planet.

Wachusett Reservoir

In fact, snow and ice does turn the world into something new – something unpredictable, something different every time, with snowfall determined chaotically, water iced over, and winds sculpting the shape of these temporary surfaces. There can be places to explore that seem like exciting new discoveries which, in summer, might be only the usual woods or paths or buildings. Everyday objects in the snow take on a new aspect. All my senses are affected: the chill of wind on my cheeks, the soft white snow, the utter stillness of places deep in the woods, the muffled crunch of snow under my boots all make an impression.

Birdhouse

Extraordinary locations, too, take on a completely new character in winter. That which I enjoy in summer or fall becomes something else, entirely – adding to the value I place on it during the warmer months of the year. When the snow is gone, the rain and mud has washed away, and green things begin to come out again, I can appreciate springtime even more.

Ithaca Falls as an Ice Fortress

Winter brings with it a whole new gamut of things to do: from skiing and skating to just running out to the backyard and shoving, building, or sculpting with snow. These things cannot be done any other time of year, and during winter, they come right to my backyard!

Egyptian Snow-Ruins

Even the chores – the shoveling, the ice-scraping – are cause for me to take a moment outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of winter, savor the process of going out the door and coming back in, or just focus on physical exertion for a time.

And when the outdoor activities are finished, what could be better than to come inside, strip off all the layers, and sit someplace with some hot chocolate or tea? It’s a perfect time for board games or movies or idle chats. Winter drives people together.

Cornell arch and clocktower at night

I love all the seasons – maybe with the sole exception of that time between when the snow starts melting and the flowers come out, when the world consists of rain and mud – but winter always carries a little bit of extra excitement for me. I suspect I may be destined to start my career in California, and a New England winter is one thing I will certainly miss!

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