Saturday, December 3, 2011

I must have a mind of winter

Spring is too thrilling to think anything and summer is for slipping back into past times, into lush white-lit cycles; autumn is for sharpening a focus and winter oh winter is for coming alive inside your own mind. These are my seasons, the markers I grew up marking, the weathers of the Northeast, and now that they too are threatened, vanishing, it seems ever more important to notice and grasp at them and feel all the things I've always felt with their coming and going.

Everyone hates winter. My father hates winter and skinny-legged girls hate winter, but I was born in winter and am built for it and outside my high school was a brown-grass field beyond which lace-branched trees supplicated a smoky lavender sky. Dendritic trees. Before the snow falls, skeleton season: bare trees, bare earth, someone who's not me might say the "true nature" of things. In any case, as naked as the land gets.

Every winter, an obsession. All that darkness and the cold that confines you to a small warm space - it concentrates my thoughts. When I was a kid I knew they were obvious because I would get themed gifts on my birthday: countless calligraphy pens one year; a platoon of teapots another. In college I got lucky and devoted several winters to writing. Last year, I wandered empty Gowanus streets and etched Hopkins into the inside of my skull. Now here it comes again: long nights, muted skies, loud weightless air. The Thing hasn't taken shape yet but the restlessness is here; right on cue the restlessness is invigorating my veins. Just in time for me to finish up in Virginia and head north for a real winter.

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