On Winter

Cold settles in like a carnival, the winter wonderland presenting itself as pockets of entertainment, pockets of intimacy, pockets of warmth, and fully of the oft odd carney.

Today is not so cold as to elicit daggers of ice, not cold enough to steal away one’s breath, but it doesn’t feel that far into the future that such cold will settle.

Summer, for its warmth, entices a sort of open happiness: enjoying cold drinks on a café patio, walking the streets and being surrounded by others doing the same, working the land, visiting the beach … Summer is the season of open community.

Winter, for its cold, entices a sort of isolated happiness: enjoying hot drinks from the comfort of a sofa while wrapped in myriad blankets, walking streets with others wondering what the hell is the matter with you, working the kitchen, visiting the fireplace … Winter is the season of closed community.

In winter, we have the opportunity to develop very close relationships, as we haven’t the crutch of summer to rely upon. In winter, we must be intentional, whereas summer is a season of frivolity, of whim. To venture out requires layers. To visit friends requires more commitment to being on time. The cold requires a discipline the heat does not.

In winter, there are the crazy souls who stay out all day, and love it. In summer, there are the crazy souls who stay in all day long, and love it.

Each season brings with it its own foods and drinks, its own friends and family …

I think about the idea of a carnival … It pops up for a brief time, it lives within its barricades … Winter brings about boundaries. It erects walls. It has some fun, like sledding or ice skating, but it severs summer ties. It hides from us the long days and short nights. It makes most people want to hibernate, to imbibe hot drinks only with those suitable for cuddling and binge-watching Netflix.

Winter isn’t awful or unbearable, but it enhances isolation, desolation. It stresses the limits of our marginal friendships. It brings only short bursts of community contact in the elements.

Love it or hate it, winter is here.

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