With the calendar year winding down, the approach of winter’s cold harsh hand is evident across the northern hemisphere.
Already the grass has turned brown, the leaves are nearly all dead and fallen from the trees and the mornings temperatures have suddenly slipped into the low 40s, or well below in some parts of the country.
In South Carolina, the earliest snow of the season on record occurred last weekend. It was little more than a dusting for the most part, but when an area can go 3-5 years without snow, seeing flurries on Nov. 1 is certainly an occasion for notice.
As someone who has the constitution of a reptile and thrives in the sun and heat, this is not a welcome change. The days of sunning myself on a log in the river are at an end for the year, I’m afraid.
Unfortunately, my employer frowns on hibernation, so I will plod through the coming months.
Cities, too, take on a different tone with the onset of winter, as metal, marble and glass get colder and even more impersonal with the change in climate. I recall excursions to Boston, Montreal and Quebec City in late fall, and the dark, gloomy atmosphere exhibited by each as winter neared.
“Once the bright days of summer pass by, a city takes on that somber garb of grey, wrapt in which it goes about its labours during the long winter. Its endless buildings look grey, its sky and its streets assume a somber hue; the scattered, leafless trees and wind-blown dust and paper but add to the general solemnity of colour. There seems to be something in the chill breezes which scurry through the long, narrow thoroughfares productive of rueful thoughts. Not poets alone, nor artists, nor that superior order of mind which arrogates to itself all refinement, feel this, but dogs and all men. These feel as much as the poet, though they have not the same power of expression. The sparrow upon the wire, the cat in the doorway, the dray horse tugging his heavy load, feel the long, keen breaths of winter. It strikes to the heart of all life, animate and inanimate. If it were not for the artificial fires of merriment, the rush of profit-making trade, and pleasuring-selling amusements; if the various merchants failed to make the customary display within and without their establishments; if our streets were not strung with signs of gorgeous hues and thronged with hurrying purchasers, we would quickly discover how firmly the chill hand of winter lays upon the heart; how dispiriting are the days during which the sun withholds a portion of our allowance of light and warmth. We are more dependent upon these things than is often thought. We are insects produced by heat, and pass without it.”
The benefit of winter’s long, cold breath is that it allows us to cherish all that much more the beauty of spring and warmth of summer. After all, one can’t truly appreciate the light without knowing the dark.