Friday, December 30, 2011

Winter Thoughts: Reprise

We are in Hokkaido again satisfying our taste for winter. Three summer visits - two camping and hiking in Daisetsuzan and one very homemade bike tour - left us curious to see what those same landscapes might look like covered with snow. One day after our first cross-country ski at Asahidake, the island's tallest peak, we remain dazzled by the magic of the landscape. While it might be odd for a farmer-gardener type such as myself to adore this season of bitter cold and frozen landscapes, I most certainly do. Here's a 2008 post (pre-Japan and very early blogging days, indeed) setting out a few reasons why I feel this way.

Winter is easily my favorite season. A friend asked me recently as we set out on a cross-country ski adventure why that is the case. Was it because I'm originally from Wisconsin? I theorized that it is perhaps because my birthday is in Winter. (It seems logical that any season in which one receives presents could well be a favorite.)

I like the starkness of Winter, I confess. I like the cold air that freezes my throat and lungs a bit when I breathe it in. I like the contrasting colors of a gentle snowfall that sketches the texture of tree branches and bark so that I feel as though I see them all for the first time. I like the drifts that look like frozen time that the wind deposited. I like the snap of stars on a cold, cold night, and the squeak it makes when I walk. There is nothing so beautiful to me as a moonlit night of still, bitter cold on that white, blue, and black landscape. It thrills me with a sense of magic and life like no other moment.

Winter feels in its frozen grace like life. Perhaps it is the contrast with what we so often think of as representing life - green lush leaves, bright petals waving at passing bees - that appeals to me. It is the potential for life just under the ice and snow, the knowledge that these branches so clear to me now will be obscured by a bounty of green leaves in a few months.

Yet, that does not feel like the right answer, either. And perhaps it doesn't matter. The cold wind fills me with joy when I breathe it in, and comforts me as it sings me off to sleep. The glint of sun or moon on a hillside is pure happiness.


Anjuli said...

Thank you for opening my eyes to a different facet of winter. I've not been used to winter (only experiencing it the past few years)- so I tended to want to run away from it- and cling to 'fall' or 'spring'- but after this post, it has made me want to embrace it!!

I'm really loving your back posts!

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Many thanks, Anjuli, as always. Up here in Hokkaido, we're falling in love with it all over again, too. Even shoveling, for heaven's sake.