Bright, white sunlight bathes the buildings outside my window in a gaudy glow. A mockery. It speaks of warmth and summer; it beckons one to be busy and ongoing. These sun-drenched days are false. For what is winter if not a slowing down of the season? The nights are longer, the air crisper. We fix our gaze inward to replenish our souls, our bodies, for the maddening bustle of restless summer. (As if the holidays were not bustle enough.)
Yet, here we are with brightness emblazoned before us. Winter is bleak enough as it is; we need not expose and magnify the details. The naked trees, the withered grass. The flowers that have receded. Winter is a canvas of browns and blacks. Add to that smirky sunshine, and the landscape becomes ever more depressing.
Soft, sunless afternoons provide winter with an air of mystique. The beauty is subtle. It appears where there seems to be none.
Winter is an exhortation to patience. Our lives are frenzied when the weather is fair, and we can uncover our skin. When the cold and rain sets in, we retract indoors or move about a little slower.
The air is chill enough for sweaters and mittens but not adequate for building and stoking a fire. I wait for dusk. For the soft evening lights to descend, for then it feels like winter–it looks like winter. For then whatever candles are lit, whatever small lights are plugged in, their glows are soft; their shadows warm. Whatever colors dusk may bring, it paints the horizon, the neighborhood, in shades befitting winter. The whites would be muted and not glaring. Never glaring. Winter does not–should not–glare. She looks through half-closed lids.
I’d like to think of winter as a time to ponder. A time to reflect and sort through those thoughts that have accumulated since summer.
Winter is a ritual. One of piping coffee and strong black teas. Of sugared biscuits and beefy stews. Of down blankets and cozy throws. Winter is an evening illuminated by fire. Amber flames that gilt the panels. Winter is the comfortable stillness you enjoy with yourself. We should all take a holiday during winter, a holiday apart from those etched on calendars. A holiday to enjoy one’s presence of mind.
All images © 2013 Sriprae P. McDonald