I built my first fire of the season last night, and watched the glassy-eyed little thermostat attached to my kitchen window by way of plastic suction cup dip down, for the first time this winter, damn near the 35 degree marker. Though I grumble against the newly dark skies overhead as I leave my office building and head home, I have to say that this is my favorite time of year. All over the news and around the watercoolers, people keep commenting on how bad this winter is predicted to be, nervously hushing their voices as if the rain gods can hear them, and might smite us all for this blasphemous talk of La Nina and her bad behavior. I watch and hear this, and feel like the meteorological odd-one-out, because I LOVE a good, hard winter.
Winter has always been my season, since I was a wee toddler, balancing on ice-skates and cross-country skis for the first time (See picture below. Awww, baby T-bone). The Pacific Northwest is quite possibly the most perfect home for me, because I get—in addition to a very long, dark winter—snow on the mountains, beautiful city views, and the delicious turbulence of the cold, gray waters of the Puget Sound.
Last night while baking a double batch of my mom’s “killer brownies” for my dear friend, Steph, and listening to an episode of Jeopardy, I had to pause a moment and take in the full feeling of my good mood. I’d built a respectable but modest, slow fire that was by now glowing orange in the living room, and I was thrilled to see the sky long since totally black at 6:30. Almost instantly, I felt an urge to spend all 30 minutes the brownies needed to bake sitting at the computer, writing. And there I went, where I churned out a rushed but solid two pages of material for my snowpocalypse novel.
All of my creative juices—whether they be used to craft projects, house-organizing, or for writing—seem to truly come to a boil in the dark, winter months. I do my best work when there is little reason to go outside, little reason to venture out of my newly painted, cozy little office.
Perhaps all the weather analysis is due, in large part, to my workshop students. This week, we are discussing the ear at work in poetry, or the way poets must use sound and musicality to convey mood and feeling. In response to the week’s assigned reading, each of my students will be writing poems that reflect either a slow or fast past, as well as winter or summer moods. In preparing my lecture this week, I spent a great deal of time looking back through some of my favorite winter poems. It seems that I can never quite get away from one of my very favorite poems of all time, Wallace Steven’s The Snow Man.
Along with the excitement I’m now feeling for the season, my writing life, the amazing workshop students I feel so honored to teach, and well—I guess life in general, I also feel this creeping suspicion that it’s going to be a really good winter—for skiing, for writing, and for being T-bone.
The Snow Man
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.