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The view from my back door. Still a little more bluish than I’d like, but it’s too windy to experiment much today.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 Krauss

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.
 
—Mark Strand, “Lines for Winter”