It’s winter here, real winter. Last year was vaguely winterish, but it really didn’t mean it. It sure as snowy, blowy, shivery hell means it now.
I kind of love it. I am fortunate enough to be in a position to love it: I have warm clothes and solid, water-defying winter boots to wear when I go out, plus a cozy home to retreat into when I begin to be distracted by how cold my toes are growing.
Still, I’ve never gone skiing or snowboarding and have no plans to do so; I am theoretically interested in cross-country skiing but only if there are hot chocolate stations every kilometer or so. I last went sledding about 20 years ago, during which I took a fairly disastrous trip down a famously steep and bumpy hill in Halifax, and was knocked out by my co-pilot, who also was knocked out; we’d foolishly squeezed our two adult-sized bodies onto a Krazy Karpet and gone for it; it may or may not be significant that we both later completed PhDs.
I’ve never played hockey, gone curling, built a structurally sound 3-story snow fort (some drunken undergrads did this at Queen’s my first year there; it’s occasionally made me wonder if I should have gone into engineering), built a snowman, or engaged in a snowball fight after grade 8 when a kid put a rock in one and almost took out my eye (I would have been less injured, perhaps, had I been wearing my glasses, but I’d recently thrown them off a cliff because they were unbearably ugly).
I like to be warm; I like to read (pretty much impossible to do outside in winter); and I like to ride my bicycle (difficult but not always impossible in winter). I have none of the obvious qualities of a real winter aficionado. Yet, I find shoveling snow strangely compelling, especially very early in the morning; I love the quiet that comes with massive snowfalls that settle in for a good long nest; I love the glint and glare of snow, its crunching under boots; I feel a sort of tenderness towards everyone I see, bundled up in the shapeless uniform required to survive -20C and worse, because they all look a little younger and more innocent. I love so much of this time of year: hot apple cider, scarves, fat novels, the way hot food tastes and how it makes me feel like maybe I could hibernate but don’t have to, paw prints in the snow, stretches of untouched snow, frozen branches against a cold-fire sky.
I don’t even mind how early the sun goes down and how resistant it is to rising again next morning; this merely adds to my sense of this as a quiet, thoughtful, restful time of year. It gives me the comfortable feeling that the glory of being outside in the dark and cold is fully equal to the glory of being inside, wrapped in a blanket, listening to a crackling fire (even if it’s only the fireplace channel!).
For the rest of the year, but especially summer, being inside can feel like a form of punishment to me. But in winter, it is only an easy, simple, lovely sort of thing and I am as surprised as you are, as well as grateful, to find it so.