Welcome, Winter

· Posted by Joshua in Nature

December in Wisconsin

December in Wisconsin

There is something unavoidably alluring to me about the cold. I don’t know what it is. For some reason, though, I’ve just always been more apt to build a snow fort than a sand castle. The heat makes my spirit melt, I have the soul of a wax man, but the cold is different. I find it at once refreshing, piercing, unbearable, intense, and thrilling. I sport with the cold. With almost masochistic pleasure, I subject my toes and fingers to its sting and brave its challenge, giddy to survive its might. Cold is power! It is the power to invigorate or to destroy, the power to transform the world into something alien and uninhabitable, but something still simultaneously beautiful. I cannot help but be transfixed.

I awoke this morning to the sound of the wind beating against my bedroom wall. The weatherman had said yesterday that it could start gusting up to twenty-five miles an hour. My bed was cold, and the blankets wrapped around me felt papery thin. When the fog of sleep finally cleared from my eyes I could see three foot snowdrifts outside my window. It was the kind of morning that would make anybody want to stay in bed. Anybody, that is, except for people like me. Enlightened or deranged, I decided to go hiking.

No matter that the wind was so fierce, the snow so deep, or the temperature so cold — the thermometer in my kitchen window read ten degrees below zero, Fahrenheit — I wanted to celebrate the winter solstice by heading straight out into Wisconsin’s deep December freeze. So, I quickly donned my winter gear and stepped outside into the snow. Now my adventure could begin, and I made to awe myself with winter’s power and beauty for as long as I could stand it.

It’s amazing how much bigger the world seems when the snow and wind impede every step between one place and another. Though I stayed outside for more than an hour, I only managed to trudge over a few of the hills and valleys that make up my family’s farm. Still, I discovered some lovely things. In the wooded glen, sheltered from the wind, a defiantly unfrozen stream still flowed gently between the snowbanks. On the barren ridgetop above, the wind whipped enough snow into the air to stain the blue sky gray, and the sun struggled to illuminate the bleak, frozen world spread out beneath it. Luckily, I found that I could still use a camera while wearing gloves, and the few scenes that I captured with my numb fingers will finish this story far more effectively than my amateur prose.

Take a look at the pictures.

I’ll be back with another post before Christmas.

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  1. You brave the cold while I stay inside. And yet, it is what we chose to do today. I wonder if you would say the same — that you like the cold — if you were forced to go outside, e.g. if you were to live on a farm and have to do chores, or if you lived during the time period of the pioneers, or even if you had an outhouse. It may be interesting to discover what we like based on what we need to do versus what we choose to do.

    1. I do live on a farm. We don’t do much with it anymore, but when I was younger we kept dairy cattle, so I did have to help with chores when I was in grade school. I remember many occasions going out to feed calves, shovel snow, carry pails, or other such tasks in the winter. I didn’t especially enjoy the work, but I can’t say I minded the cold. In fact, I distinctly remember enjoying the cold, even that long ago, while being made to work on the farm as a kid. I found it as strangely exciting then as I do now, and I’m certain that my love of the cold partly sprung from doing those winter chores when I was young. I mean, I never liked being stuck outside in the frigid air forever, and I wouldn’t like that now either. I would hate to be stranded outdoors in the winter. Nevertheless, I’ve always liked to sport with the cold, to see just how much I can take. This may sound insane, but when I was younger I really felt that the cold made doing my chores easier, I found the chill energizing, perhaps because it added excitement that wasn’t there at other times, perhaps just because it was better to me than the heat I despise in summertime. In any case, I can say quite certainly that I liked the cold regardless of whether I was outside to go sledding, or to wait for the school bus, or even to do chores. And I still like the cold now. I guess it’s just a part of who I am.

      Does anybody else who reads this enjoy the cold?

  2. I don’t necessarily enjoy BEING cold, with the shivering and numbness, but I like winter. I think bundling up to brave the cold is exciting. Moreso than being gross and sweaty in the summer.