the first frostNovember 13, 2006
I exited my apartment to get a feel for the weather of today, and discovered the first frost. The thin icy crust over every car below my stoop sparkled in the waking light of dawn, and fluttered the light up, into my eyes, which fluttered my heart in turn. The peace of such a sight. The delicacy of that fine, crystaline layer, as though each wintery diamond was placed by hand to create the sweeping circles within circles that form from frozen water.
The bite of the air was so sharp, so crisp, I felt I could taste the very salt of the hands that had placed those diamonds, and I was grateful. I looked out with a sense of domain, a sense of wonder, and smiled.
The best of winter is the introspection. When it gets cold, everyone wants to run inside, to get out of the life-sucking lack of heat. This is good. That tendency for reclusion brings us together in droves, and it is why some of the most treasured holidays are in this season.
For me, the joy of winter comes from feeling your nose reddening vessel by vessel. To feel your body retract within itself for self-sustaining is my meat and potatoes every year. I will wander out in the cold at night, or during the day, and just feel how drastically my body can recoil. It is a feeling of being alive. Something most other seasons don’t offer. At least not with such severity.
Winter means snow. It means hot chocolate. It means long hours inside by the fire, reading. It means friends, lights, and cookies. It means picture windows with picturesque views, long pajamas and family.
In most pagan traditions I’ve encountered, it is encouraged to retreat within yourself, to have introspection, clear into February. This is theory, but the practice isn’t that hard to obtain. We want to do it anyway. We have no gardening, no football, no vacations that would not also require we dive indoors and spend it together. We have nothing around us that drives us outdoors unless it is to bring something back in.
Winter is about gathering, about thinking where you’ve been this year. About what you will do with the next year. It is a time for realignment, self-accounting, sleep.
So, with that first layer of frost, I think of all of this, and I smile, knowing that the time well spent in winter is the time simply spent.