Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thinking of snow, of all things


It's a strange time of year to be thinking of winter, just a couple of days short of summer solstice, true calendar summer still ahead of us in fact, lots of heat, lots of growth. And I wouldn't have, I'm sure, if I hadn't suddenly remembered the heartache that, like it or not, arrives that day, June 21, when you can't help knowing that, once again, the days will grow shorter, temps will fall and open windows close.

I certainly don't long for snow outside these windows or frost on the corners. I'm not dying to pull on sweats rather than shorts and a t-shirt. I like going barefoot. I'm not nostalgic for winter in the least.

But an article in Cabinet reminded me not only of winter's discomfort but also its strangely paradoxical allure. Even now, there's something sort of attractive about it. Sort of. Snowmen, he claims, are jolly friends we'd never invite into the kitchen or play room. What's more, they die away remarkably fast. They're cartoon figures of horror.

Still, the season's first snow is always incredibly beautiful. It creates a sinless world by enrobing everything in a gown of alabaster. Early winter is a colorless, desolate mess, abandoned cornfields seem the earth's very own hairshirt. Autumn leaves have long ago lost their glory. They're little more than fertilizer, brown or gray and soggy. Then comes the snow, and the world is brand new.

"Snow’s richest metaphorical potential probably lies in its capacity to accurately map states of mental desolation," says Charlie Fox, "ranging from inertia to catatonia, through its exquisite blankness." Maybe. What I know is that it's not particularly becoming even though it has its own remarkable beauty.

Somewhere along the line, I remember hearing that Hollywood hates snow because we do. How many wonderful movies do you know that feature winter? Zhivago, for one. Groundhog Day, although the producer had no choice. Fargo, but then the movie's great appeal was its weirdness.

If in fact, whenever it can, Hollywood avoids snow, it has cause. No one likes to shiver.

There's an editor in North Dakota (see winter, anyone?) whose desk contains at least one manuscript--mine!--of a novel set in the deep, dark cold. That it is, is even more reason to worry about that editor (or any) ever liking the novel. Honestly, who could possibly be enchanted by book whose temperature never gets above zero?

And yet, I love taking landscapes in winter, dream, in fact, of getting a great shot of buffalo slugging it out in a snowstorm. Number one on my bucket list--get that picture. For a decade or more, every December I looked forward to tramping out in the wild after a first snow, when the world is pearly bright.

But I can't imagine putting a winter landscape, no matter how beautiful, up in the living room. Who in their right mind would want to live in a room decorated by frozen cold? Snow is gorgeous and stunning in what Charlie Fox calls its "exquisite blankness." What's more, even though the morning after a snowfall may remind the soul of purity, by the end of the day the streets are a mess, lined with dead sheep.

It's the 16th of June, five whole days left until solstice, when the earth tips north and the sun goes south. Right now, the door is open down here, I can watch the dawn, the garden is booming, and the snow seems forever away.

But not gone. It'll rise from the dead once more, and I'll think it gorgeous.

For a while.

1 comment:

Janet Boebert said...

I have two framed winter photos in my living room - I love how snow changes the landscape (alabaster...what a beautiful word), but I don't have to work in it. I can enjoy it from my warm kitchen with a cup of hot coffee.