By Tim Clark
Ever since the bicameral breakdown, when early humans first realized their separation from, and independence of, the larger world the changing of the seasons have been the source of amazement and gave birth to myth and legends across the globe. Now, through the benefits of science and televised meteorological personalities we have managed to reduce the transition to something mundane and predictable.
There was something to an Ice Giant ruling Valhalla for six months in Odin’s absence, something more appealing than the 23°27’ tilt of the planet causing the sun’s rays to fall at a more acute angle. Winter loses some of its magic, when you define it numerically. “Do the math,” people will say. No, you do the math. There is too much beauty in winter to reduce it to an equation.
Even walking to my car, the air chilling my lungs, the crack of the frozen crust of snow traveling through the solemn, sacred silence of a still winter morning. When frost has painted an abstract work of beauty on everything, trees, windshields, dumpsters even the lifeless blacktop of the street glistens and shines. No two snowflakes look alike in a geometric progression. Winter really knows how to dress things up. It should come with a warning; “Objects may be significantly less appealing than they appear.”
I walk at lunch, trying to stay healthy, and keep my doctor at bay. People move with increased speed when it’s cold. A mad dash for a hero sandwich with reduced fat dressing, and the return trip, bag tucked under their arm, hands in pockets, face wrapped in a scarf, their breath white and broken by the knitted fabric. It is a good idea to stay out of the way. Scattered around the periphery of the harried, hurried lunch crowd are small, serene groups of smokers. Huddled in courtyards and alleyways, nothing but the fiery red ember of the cigarette and the glow of the smart screen to keep them warm. They always seem to look at me with such pity, we both know society forces them outside, and I do it by choice. We feel sorry for each other, winter bringing out the best of humanity.
Lawns don’t grow in the winter, so they don’t need to be mowed. I consider that a real plus. No mowing, no lawn treatments, no gasping for air in the thick, moist humidity under a cruel August sun.
“I’m going to go mow the lawn. If I don’t make it back alive remember I love you.” I say to my wife, hoping she will try to talk me out of going.
“OK. Remember to run the trimmer around the mailbox and patio, please.” She replies, her apathy shocking.
“If I live that long, I will.”
“Maybe you should trim first.”
I plod along as the unforgiving heat melts my very soul until it drips from my pores, soaking my clothes, weighing me down. My steps slow, become shorter, more painful. I ponder man’s place in the infinite universe, knowing with certainty that the son of some neglectful deity is focusing the light of a distant star through a magnifying glass right onto the top of my head. I smell smoke. It won’t be long until I burst into flames. Or, possibly the Earth has finally broken free of its feeble orbit and is hurtling toward the sun. Both options sound bad, time is running out. Maybe I should have trimmed first.
If only I could have one last cold beer, a tepid glass of water, a lukewarm cup of coffee, a kitchen rag dipped in dish water, anything! I’m dying here. Man, I hate summer.
Winter, though, I can really wrap my head around the season. When it gets so cold at night and my wife works her way over to lie next to me. Holding me so tightly it seems she is afraid I will spin away, those are the minutes that could last for hours, even when it feels like she has just climbed out of the freezer. I love it when the weekends are too cold to venture outside and I can sit inside with my family, homemade pizza, movies, and the warmth that only comes from love. Moments of happiness beyond measure.
For those of you who made it this far, I want to thank you. This was so much fun to write. But, I would like to end on a more somber note. I love winter, but there are many who face the cold with dread. They don’t have the warmth and love I take for granted. Finding a small hole out of the wind, rain and snow is the best they can hope for. Homelessness is an epidemic. Please, do anything you can to help. You will be amazed at the gratitude displayed for a hot cup of coffee, a clean, dry pair of socks and some gloves. Making a difference isn’t difficult once you get the hang of it.
For more great Wild Word essays:
Season’s Greetings From Trump’s America by Maria Behan
Why Men Need To Help With The Christmas Cleanup by Lorna O’Hara
Why The Homemade Christmas Traditions Are The Best by CL Bledsoe