Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Learn to love winter by understanding it

Winter is a terrible time of year. It’s cold. It’s dark. You have to spend a half hour putting on heavy clothing just to walk to the mailbox. We all have chronic seasonal depressive disorder. And many of us flee to Florida to escape.
I do not. I would not. For me, winter is a difficult season, but it is also the season of magic. The first snowfall. The suddenness of darkness after the clocks change. The whiteness of the winter snow in the moonlight. The terrifying lostness when suddenly you find yourself in a snowstorm, surrounded by whiteness with no idea where to go — and then you find your way.
In winter it is as if you have gone through a secret doorway to another Earth. The trees are not green or even red and brown; they are skeletons.  The roads are crusty with dirt and salt and ice.  Fields that were full of growth are empty plains of snow.
It is another Earth, but it is a twin Earth. You know that because on a moonless night in December, you can look at the sky and suddenly, for the first time since last year, there is Orion waiting for you to say, Hello; welcome back; I’ve missed you. And of course, there’s the winter moon, shining its searchlight onto the snow, throwing sharp shadows like a marksman might throw knives. Yes, it’s cold and dark. But it is also white and strange and wonderful.
You know that when summer comes, ordinary Earth will be back, all smiles and comfort, filled with lakes and mountains to climb, in the warm brightness of the sun. But even then, if you half close your eyes, you can see the ghosts of snow and darkness, saying, Have fun. But we’ll be back. And then once more we will tell you what life and death are really all about.
Best of all, when you understand winter, you can live in it and love it.  And, if you can do that, you can live in the kinds of beautiful places that only exist when no one else wants to live there.
Paul N. Seward
Middlebury

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