The sound of Christmas music fades into the distance, the peals of New Years’ bells fall silent. The festive decorations, the electric lights, and the strings of greeting cards will be put away. Old calendars removed and new ones hung. Retire last year’s Farmer’s Almanac to the shelf in the library, beside the previous twenty volumes.
January is here, and the time for hunkering down. Shuttering windows, stoking fires. The winds sweep down Victory Mountain from the west, shaking our little vale, blowing up snow devils that dance across frozen hay fields. They twist and race across the roads, piling drifts against the hedgerows, beleaguering the geese camping in the corn stubble, their heads bowed, backs to the wind.
The smell of wood smoke hangs in the air, and the singularly magical scent of snow. Sounds are muffled; footsteps, passing cars, yelps of excited children up on the hill, sledding their cares away.
Make no mistake, we may guard ourselves against winter’s onslaught, but we shall not be hermits! Into the wild white and wind we boldly step, to ski the slopes, to drill holes through the ice from which we’ll pull some fish. We’ll ride snowmobiles and toboggans, we’ll don boots and snowshoes. We’ll throw snow balls at one another, and build snowmen and ice forts and igloos and snow sculptures. We’ll get soaking wet and rosy-cheeked and we’ll retire to a fire-filled cast iron stove and a bucket of hot chocolate.
The best is yet to come. When the windows are frosted over like in Doctor Zhivago, and we make a game of checking the thermometer. Minus two. Minus twelve. Minus eighteen.
The wind will howl over our heads, and the fields will be vast seas of blowing white dust. Now it’s time for hot tea and warm hands. Time to close the drapes, put the fir-needle-filled draft stopper in front of the cellar door. Time for double socks and electric blankets, down ticks and cold noses.
Then one day we will find ourselves in the center of a white wonderland, bright sun shining, not a stir in the air. There will be friends and laughter, or perhaps solitude and the rapture of nature. The sun and the snow and the smell and even the cold itself will fill us with the thrill of the season, the bravado of those that brave the elements, the simple wonder of a world transformed.
December 30 First
All around lie the remnants of summer and fall.
These dry brown grasses, the tall and the small.
Each conifer stretches, the low and the high,
Each stretches, in vain, its limbs to the sky.
The sun hangs low in its arc, nonchalant.
Neglecting her Earthbound petites enfants.
The Cold comes to slumber, and lumber around,
Packing the earth to hard frozen ground.
The Smoke of Chimneys dances and twirls,
Having never seen the Summer World.
I’ll shutter the window, put a log on the fire,
And patiently wait for the Year to expire.
As into the pink night sky sets the sun,
Another year’s ended
As another’s begun.
Let the peace of the season follow you throughout the year.
Take care and keep in touch.