I associate winter with stark beauty. It is the season of cold nights and hot apple sider. It smells like smoke and the dusty burnt sugar of oncoming snow. There is peace in the quiet after a winter storm—when all is muffled—pure—consumed by frosty fallen crystal. I revel in winter’s crisp bite. It calls to me as others yearn for the dog days of summer and the burgeoning weeks of new-spring.
Winter has its dark side too. Just as I find solace in its terrible glory, it saps my will to strive—leaving me careless of whether to rule in hell or serve in heaven— as long as I can delay the battle for another day. Summer prompts me to walk for miles across sun-warmed beeches. Spring bids me seek its promised greenery. Fall—winter’s prodigal sibling—calls me to walk in woods aflame with the golden corpses of seasons past. Ah, but winter pulls me into myself. The circle constricts to the memory of those lost—paths not taken—old regrets and poignant joy. I leave holiday parties to walk into a cave of bitter sweet remembrance. Who am I to decline an offer of food or drink? The goals of brighter days seem as passing as Autumn leaves. I want to seek, strive, not to yield but Winter weighs me down with cold complacence.
Winter is the season of cutting. I search for the trivial—the less valued—the things that fell short of expectation. I throw away the dross. It will not make me happy but I will take cold pleasure in an office stripped of extraneous distraction. I find comfort in the prospect of a new year unfettered by detritus. I am boisterous and introspective by turns—good company for a few hours before cold night settles o’er my thoughts.
Here in the soon to be 70-degree warmth of a Maryland autumn I have heard winter’s heralds. The crunch of leaves—pumpkin bounty—gift trees and holiday schedules sing the coming change. Hot tea and closed windows quietly proliferate. Burnt sugar and smoke is in the air—waiting for shortened days and wind-blown nights. Winter is coming.