Monday, December 5, 2011

For I insist that winter is beautiful....

Is it true that dreamers like a severe winter, as Baudelaire has said?  Our homes, our nests, he says, "will be all the warmer, all the downier, all the better beloved..."  Winter has been called, the 'sad season' but it is also, intimate, dreamy, drowsy.  In Gaston Bachelard's book The Poetics of Space, he talks about the occupied house in conjunction with the 'winter cosmos.' As the outside world is covered and muffled and negated by snow, so the inside world becomes more intimate, more intensely experienced.  The early darkness encloses the space even more. It is certainly conducive for reading and scribbling and dreaming, though at times the severity tests any winter lover, winter dreamer. The contradictions, like the snow outdoors, accumulate, as Bacherlard says.  The darkness muffles us in our nests, and the bright white muffles the outside.

"Indeed, everything comes alive when contradictions accumulate."

~ Bachelard

And so what to do, besides nesting and withdrawing into the luxury of our winter solitude, what to do to reach the mindset of those winter dreamers who embrace the severity of the season?

There are certain books I re-read in the winter.  Jane Eyre.  Emma.  There is that scene in Emma where  there is the evening party at the Westons' and Mr. John Knightley says:

"A man," said he, "must have a very good opinion of himself when he asks people to leave their own fireside, and encounter such a day as this, for the sake of coming to see him. He must think himself a most agreeable fellow; I could not do such a thing. It is the greatest absurdity—Actually snowing at this moment!—The folly of not allowing people to be comfortable at home—and the folly of people's not staying comfortably at home when they can! If we were obliged to go out such an evening as this, by any call of duty or business, what a hardship we should deem it;—and here are we, probably with rather thinner clothing than usual, setting forward voluntarily, without excuse, in defiance of the voice of nature, which tells man, in every thing given to his view or his feelings, to stay at home himself, and keep all under shelter that he can;—here are we setting forward to spend five dull hours in another man's house, with nothing to say or to hear that was not said and heard yesterday, and may not be said and heard again to-morrow. Going in dismal weather, to return probably in worse;—four horses and four servants taken out for nothing but to convey five idle, shivering creatures into colder rooms and worse company than they might have had at home."

Well, I think about this with a smile whenever I'm called to go out into the cold over the holidays.  I think actually, that were I to be invited somewhere with the promise of five dull hours, I'd certainly stay home.  As far as winter complainers go, Mr. John Knightley must rank as one of the very finest.  So, this is one way to encounter the season.

For me, winter is as much about the accumulation of snow as it is an accumulation of contradictions. I sleep more deeply, dream more deeply, many nights in winter.  I want less in winter, which is maybe strange, since it is also the season of giving and receiving. I also feel (and likely look) paler, like I'm disappearing. I'm always cold - there are not enough sweaters in the world for me.  But still I must insist that winter is beautiful...

How to find sweetness in that sea of snow, in those drifts, and in the frothy cold erasure? That is the question I've been asking myself this year and I don't have answers so have been tossing popsicles and candy and books into the stuff, to see if the sugar and ink will speak to the cottony fluff that is snow.

"I would like to be able to take a photo of a dream," says Helene Cixous.

And maybe it will be in winter this act is the most possible...


  1. Great shots, Shawna. Those are Christmas cards I'd buy. AND a great title for a book: Sugar and Ink. Bravo!

  2. never thought of cards!! thanks : )


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...