Here is something I haven’t seen in awhile – sunshine. The sky has been layered in ashy gray light for the whole month of January. Today, though, the sun pours over the snow and turns it white and shiny. Long, inky shadows from the trees criss-cross this canvas like lines of calligraphy. A soft breeze lifts puffs of snow off the roof tops and scatters it across the land. The sun pierces the icicles dangling from the branches and lights them from the inside out. This is the light that flows through my window and across the pages of my notebook.
Many of my friends don’t like snow. They fly down to Florida and gather in trailer-pod parks for the winter. I appreciate how the balmy, perfumed ocean breezes, powdery beaches, and tropical water serve as a tonic for a frozen soul, but its a little too crowded for me. The state is a hodgepodge of strip malls, amusement parks, congealed highways, chain restaurants and hospitals and instant care centers wrapped in a gorgeous coast line. Its a little too flat and congested for me, a crowded and cluttered foreground beneath a vast, empty sky. I prefer the contoured, gently rolling hills covered with evergreens, corn-stubbled fields, fresh water ponds and lakes scrimmed with ice and cattails, and skies filled with purple-bottomed snow clouds. I crave the clean, metallic smell of the air and the silence that blankets the the forest trails I walk on. I love to visit Florida, but if I stay too long, the inland breezes don’t quite cover the smell of gasoline and car exhaust, or the moldy aroma of decay.
Here is my advice for surviving a northern winter: do not go gently into this good season. Do not let it push you back inside. Do not let the silent weight of the arctic cold tether you to the stale breath of the furnace. Instead, go out into the teeth of the season. Let the wind tear your cheeks. Let the cold numb your fingers and burn your toes. Let the icy pellets sting your eyes. Climb the frozen waves along Lake Michigan and spit back at the snow clouds scudding through the sky. Rage, rage at the fury of winter’s might. Stand at the edge of the freezing dark and wring the pleasures from its dying light.
Scott Peterson is from the cold North of Kalamazoo, Michigan