Sunday, January 20, 2013

In defense of winter

Poor winter. The least appreciated of the seasons, it is written off as a hardship to endure or something to escape from.

Winter is described in menacing terms -- bleak, desolate, frigid, dark. We are caught in its teeth, in winds that bite and in snow that blinds. I don't deny the accuracy of this description but instead of making my heart sink, it makes it sing. I love winter. Always have, always will. The colder and snowier it is, the happier I am.

I'm talking about real winter, of course. Not this rainy, grey non-season that passes for winter in Bonn. Real winter means months of below-zero temperatures and snow that stays on the ground and piles up higher and higher with every successive snowfall. Real winter turns lakes and canals into skating rinks. Real winter stings the nostrils and fuses eyelashes together.

There is no season more beautiful, more romantic and more magical than winter. I love the way snow softens edges and muffles sound. I love the silence and the solitude. I love the minimalist beauty of a world turned white, so completely still it feels like a painting. I love seeing roads, trees and houses covered in snow while walking home at night. I love warming up frozen toes in front of a fireplace. I love that winter makes it okay to do nothing and go nowhere -- the only season that makes anti-social behavior socially acceptable.

I haven't outgrown the childlike sense of wonder at waking up to see snow outside the window. It still thrills me. It brings back happy memories of building snowmen, barreling down a hill on a toboggan, skating on a square of frozen ice, cross-country skiing out the front door and generally just spending hours outside playing in the snow.

Up until last week, winter in Bonn has been grey, gloomy, rainy and warm. While some people were fantasizing about flying south, I was seriously contemplating a trip to northern Norway to get my fix of real winter. I'd take the aurora borealis over a tropical beach any day.

But then something wonderful happened; it started snowing and it hasn't stopped. The temperatures have been below zero every day since Tuesday. Real winter has finally arrived in Bonn. And I couldn't be happier.


Julie said...

Such a perfect description of the only kind of winter that I remember loving, and that I haven't experienced for so long that I now almost hate the "winter' I get here in Paris, Ontario. Thus, flying to Ft Myers Beach has become a winter's escape whenever we can afford to .

Sarah M. said...

Thank you Julie. I miss it so much too. I feel like I haven't experienced a real Canadian winter in years. What is a Paris, Ontario, winter? I assumed it would be pretty cold.