The cold is an old friend. Not the fair-weather kind, but the kind you keep around to hold you in check. The kind who tell you what’s up, straight up, without apology. The frigid wind hits my cheeks like hard truth, demanding that I look in and deal. It seems merciless but there is mercy in its persistent gusts. Sometimes truth can twist up your toes and cause you to fold in half to endure it. We draw in, peer in, breath into small spaces. There’s an echo to cold, too. Things ring out into empty space, the space that warmth would cover and absorb. My wood floors creak differently now; the drawers and cabinets carry a sharper pitch. Wood constricts and draws tightly, and actually moves more easily. Doors that don’t close in summer now swing open, barely touching the latch. Our bodies and homes respond differently in this season. I think we begin to tune into how much protection we really need from life’s elements.
I’ve never been one to despise winter, though. I actually enjoy it. Seems that most of my earliest memories have snow and ice as a backdrop. Michigan has long winters. It often felt like it would never end. And when you thought it was over, it wasn’t. I think my tolerance for freezing temps comes from being raised up north. Canadian jet streams trained my frame for howling bitter wind. The cold up there stings your face. There’s nothing like it here in Arkansas. It’s entirely more fierce in a land surrounded by icy water with wind blowing over it.
When we were younger, Lake Erie would freeze over. Not the entirety, but the shoreline. People would drive their vehicles out onto it and fish. I remember shanties set up along the lake, and the sound of parachute material clapping in the wind. I recall ice fishing with my dad, and drilling a circle into thick ice with what I thought was a giant corkscrew. Then we ladled out the ice with what looked like a slotted spoon. Next, we dropped lines into the hole and waited, shivering all the while. We were hoping for pike. They were beautiful fish, but my favorite fish then was rainbow trout. Their iridescent colors flashed with such promise. I most often saw them up north in the freshest water you can imagine. Water is like glass up there. The further north you go, the more vibrant everything becomes. I’m real glad I was introduced to the outdoors and it’s undefiled beauty.
I’d often imagine we were the first people to explore the places we went. Sometimes beauty like that is hard to fathom sharing with another. I wanted it to be all mine. I can still feel this way, wanting to be the soul possessor of beauty. Yet, it’s truly most enjoyable when sharing the view with another.
I am simmering anise, clove, and cinnamon this morning. A concoction for my nostalgic nose. Winter scents. The frost is fading as the sun rises overhead. I’m thawing out from early morning chores, children are lounging, and trees are glowing. There’s nothing I do not enjoy about this. When frigid temps drive you inside for warmth, it simply burns hotter the fire of comfort and joy. And it is mine to keep and share.