As a child of the tropics (I was born in Venezuela), winter has never been my favorite season. The novelty of snow wore off with the melting of the first snowman we built in what I remember as a blizzard somewhere in Montana back in 1957, or was it 1958? Doesn’t matter. I was very young, my brother even younger, and the three of us – my mother, my brother and I – had traveled across this country by train to visit friends of my father’s, from the Old Country. I don’t remember how long we stayed there; it seemed like a long time, long enough for the snow to start melting. I do remember that everything for miles around the house was flat and white, except for the snowman we had built. He stood as a landmark in the, to me, enormous open space.
When we moved to Cleveland, Ohio, there were many winters with heavy snows. (So far this winter they’ve had more snow than we saw in New York City all of last winter. We’ve been lucky.) I never again managed to build a snowman as splendid as the one in Montana. Maybe because I was bigger then. Maybe because in the city there aren’t many open spaces with no other buildings in sight. Maybe because he was far more splendid in my mind than he ever was on the plain…
We had a riotously colorful autumn in New York City. Suddenly, it seemed the parks were ablaze with gorgeous, rich color, Mother Nature’s last hurrah before the starkness, the darkness, the chill of winter. For many years, I was unable to enjoy this outburst of nature’s beauty as I hunkered down for what I perceived to be death and the cold barrenness of the long winter months to come. I clad myself in mourning for the glories of spring and summer way before winter made its presence known, thus missing the brief and flaming beauty of fall. Pity.
The trees in my neighborhood are mostly bare now. There are a few stalwarts clinging to their dry and crackly autumn finery, but for the most part I see the naked branches etched against the sky, making a dark lacy pattern against the blueness of the heavens. And in the branches, I see the resilient little sparrows, sitting and chirping, seeming to exchange news of the neighborhood and their families. Like old friends gathered together for a nice cup of…hot chocolate? Yes, hot chocolate!
As I grow older and, perhaps, wiser, I’m able to see the world around me through different filters, from different perspectives and frames of reference. Those frames of reference are always unique to me for they represent the experiences of the life I’ve lived, the views I’ve held that have evolved and morphed into new frames for my reference; and winter is no longer a season of death for me. Now, I revel in its quietness and seclusion. I welcome the time for introspection, for re-visiting the treasures of my memories and, perhaps, dusting off and sharing some of them. I’m enjoying the coziness of a snuggle in my mind, of seeing long-held perceptions with fresh eyes, of a respite from doing and an acceptance of being.