[Note: I started writing this essay all over again until I realized I’d already written it last winter. The forecast starting Monday is for twenty degrees below normal, and normal ain’t normal to a normal person]
It’s ten degrees, but it won’t last. The sun is retreating and dragging the thermometer with it. The violet days are here.
There was a moment before sunset when the sky and the earth and everything in, on, and between them turned this lovely purple hue. It’s an indescribable color. Light through a lens fashioned from a limpid pool, frozen. It can’t mean anything but cold to my eye. I don’t know how many bedrooms I’ve seen painted this color. It’s arctic looking, and the person that chose it always told me it was, you know ” a warm color.” Yes, it is, in the same way a walrus butthole planted on a floe is warm. To a lunatic, it might be warm.
But cold as a concept is not as bad as many make it. It is a fact, here. It will be below zero, day and night, for three days in a row. It will be ten, fifteen, maybe push twenty below zero at night. Winter is not fooling around anymore. So what.
Winter is a full time job in Maine, E. B. White said. But he lived Downeast, where it’s warm compared to here. But he understood. You have to look it straight in the face, and deal with it. You can’t go out in your socks and scrape the frost from your windshield with a credit card. I’ve made over 500 fires already, and I’ve only used one match, once, to do it. You have to prepare yourself for winter. It reminds you that you’re mortal, and that there are seasons, and those seasons have meaning. It shows you that your life will pass you by if you’re not careful. Winter is useful that way.
I see a great number of people talking about how they’re going to deal with a coming apocalypse. They’re going to hoard this and grow that. They’re going to be the Omega Man crossed with Johnny Appleseed. Forgive me, but life is plenty hard here, and I can’t help but notice you’re not moving in next door to me before the apocalypse. I doubt you will the day after. If winter is too much for you, I doubt you’re prepared for an army of zombie Robespierres or whatever it is you’re planning for.
I can’t say I like the winter. I’ve always been cold. Poor people are often cold, and I have been poor in my life. I’m not a fool and I don’t like misery. But I respect the winter here. It’s a worthy adversary, and so, goddamn it, am I. Bring it on.