A little later in the year than usual, the stickyplushy snow came down on Sunday. Not much, just an inch or so, and it might all vanish in a day or two, but it’s there now, whiting out the world. Even though the lawns have been dull gray/green/brown blends for months and the trees are skeletal without their leaves, it doesn’t feel like the end of the year until the white blanket comes to stay. (And stay it does, once it gets comfortable.)
Ours is not a street with a lot of outdoor holiday decorations, although there are a few houses that push into Griswoldian levels of forced faux cheer. Mostly, the decor is in quiet good taste, a wreath here, a single candelabrum at a windowsill there. Light, red ribbon, silver bells lashed to leather. It’s not cold enough yet for an outdoor walk to be miserable, so we take advantage while we can. Soon the snowmobile riders will rip through the neighborhood with their shockingly loud motors. Soon shoveling the driveway will not be something I can finish in fifteen minutes. Soon tea will not be an indulgence but a defense mechanism.
I am bad with endings. Spring comes back, but winter for me is about things, and people, that stay gone. Still, something is different this year, something in me that is sturdier than it has been in more than a decade. We have good, strong doors. We have thick, warm blankets. We have layers of wool and leather and fleece and sturdy cotton. Here is something I never thought I would be able to say and mean: I am ready.
for Ros KraussTell yourselfas it gets cold and gray falls from the airthat you will go onwalking, hearingthe same tune no matter whereyou find yourself—inside the dome of darkor under the cracking whiteof the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.Tonight as it gets coldtell yourselfwhat you know which is nothingbut the tune your bones playas you keep going. And you will be ablefor once to lie down under the small fireof winter stars.And if it happens that you cannotgo on or turn backand you find yourselfwhere you will be at the end,tell yourselfin that final flowing of cold through your limbsthat you love what you are.—Mark Strand, “Lines for Winter”