Sunday, December 9, 2012


I have been trying to convince myself lately that I do not like winters, that autumn, spring, and summer are superior to this dreadful, dead season. Unfortunately I am proven otherwise the first snowfall of every year. There is just something so refreshing and necessary about winter. Winter is a time of cleansing; sure everything is dying, the trees are losing their leaves and the grass is shriveling up, but this only makes the growth and life of spring all the more satisfying. Winter forces us to appreciate what we have in the summer by making the process of growth more apparent. It’s the physical embodiment of a process that people go through constantly throughout their lives: the process of letting something go, reflecting on its absence, and then allowing something new to replace it later on. With winter comes the constant reminiscence of the joys of summer that many did not even partake in when summer was here. We all tell ourselves that if only it was nicer outside, if only the sun was shining and the beaches were beckoning, then we would take time for ourselves and relax with friends.

And yet there are countless things to do in the winter: one can snuggle up on the couch with some hot chocolate or tea and watch a movie with a friend; one can build a snowman, run around outdoors, or go ice skating; winter is the perfect excuse to bundle up in ugly sweaters, wear thick boots and tall socks, and just be comfortable. It’s the season where sitting around inside reading all day is not considered to be socially unacceptable.

I think that if only we could change our perspective of the seasons and embrace each one for each of its unique elements, then we could find ourselves enjoying more of each year. Rather than loving summer, yearning for it, enjoying it, and then missing it immensely when it is gone, we should keep it in its place. We should recognize that without winter summer wouldn't have it's power, without the slow decay of fall one couldn't enjoy the gradual emergence of spring: it is not necessary to love each season equally, but being able to appreciate each one for what it is is important.

It's similar with people. Especially for those of us that have worked in the service industry. Without the complete assholes, those jackasses that complain, are rude, treat you like an object, try to manipulate and take advantage of you, and are just in general mean people, we wouldn't appreciate the kind and good people. I'm not justifying the jerks out there, nor am I encouraging people to fulfill that necessary asshole-space. Rather I am simply saying that if one can see those people and contextualize them in a more positive way, then it will be easier to tell yourself that he is just having a bad day, or that maybe she got some bad news this morning and is being uncharacteristically rude.

These are the things I consider when I think about winter. When ice, snow, cutting wind, and frigid temperatures come upon me I always remember this poem by Wallace Stevens. 

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.

There’s just something about that last stanza: “and, nothing himself, beholds / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is” that catches my imagination. What is this nothing that is simultaneously absent and present, that fleeting something that one can only be grasped when one is also a nothing noting the nothingness? 

What do you think?


  1. I grew up in California and so my idea of winter was always chilly weather, chilly meaning 40 degrees, and rain and fog.
    After we moved to Montana I found myself always yearning for summer, but after several years of having snow-filled winters, I am beginning to realize that things aren't quite right without all the snow. We're having an unusual winter right now... I wonder how much more snow we'll get this year?

    1. Yeah dude, there is no snow here in Wyoming. Which is odd because I was told the winters would be way worse and blah blah blah. I'm excited to get back to Minnesota and see what's going on: weather-wise and everything else.