Tag: cold

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

 

If I were marooned on a desert island and could only have one book, it would be Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. I first read this book in a Boeing 747, in 1984, on my way to Britain for a three-week vacation with my then-husband. I remember reading a passage, I don’t remember which, that made me cry it was so beautiful.

After Ray and I got married, for a while we went to bed at the same time, and he would read me a chapter before turning out the light. Sometimes I would fall asleep while listening to him read, but I could hear that he liked the book as much as I did (he had not read it before). In 2005, he gave me a hardback first edition of the book, and it lives on my bedside table, always waiting for me to open it to just about any page, and resume the braided stories of Athansor, the white horse, and all the people’s lives he touches.

Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?

 

“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.

Winter in Florida

 

Okay, so we don’t have much of a winter in Florida. Today the temperatures will rise into the 80s. The palm trees float in the breeze; many trees still have their leaves; the grass is a bright emerald green. Many people come to Florida because they are escaping the dreary, cold and snowy environs they live in the rest of the year.

But except for having to drive in snowy weather (like the blizzard I wrote about in another post), I search desperately for signs that the seasons are changing and that winter has arrived. Earlier in the fall of 2019, there was that first morning when the crisp morning air told me that change had arrived. Yes, it was subtle, but I insisted in honoring its message. Some of the trees here actually do change color and shed their leaves in an effort to rest and draw back for a few months. I find myself wanting to draw in just a bit myself, and to respect the passage of time.

Winter is also a time for memories when I recall being in the snow: sledding down mountains, skiing on my first bunny slope, tackling the ski lifts and landing in one piece at the end. It reminds me of shoveling snow, slipping on an icy path, holding our little dog in a towel to melt the ice balls clinging to her coat.

Member Post

 

Last night I was laying on the floor of my son’s room while reading him a bedtime story. We’ve had wildfires all week, and the smoke outside was so thick it eliminated the horizon and even distorted our view of nearby trees. We had every window closed and the inside temperature of nearly 90 degrees […]

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Summer in Montana

 

My last post was about summer while I was growing up in Arkansas during which I made plenty of great memories. Now that I’ve been up here in Montana for several years, I’ve made quite a few Montana summer memories.


I moved to Montana in June of 2014. The day I left Arkansas, there was a heat index of 120 with 90-some-odd-percent humidity. I loaded up the U-Haul with the help of several friends, stuck the cat in his pet taxi, booted up an audiobook, and set off on my great trek across the country. I drove up to Sioux Falls, SD the first day and was delighted with the much cooler temperatures. I drove to Gillette, WY on the second day to stay with my handsome now-husband. (@kaladin) Then I finished the journey up to Bozeman on the third day. Terry had already picked us out an apartment on his last leave. Got the truck unloaded, and started to settle in for about a week before the new job started.