"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

28 February 2011

Winter's Coils

Wind, chinook in bearing, gusts through the valley. Atop my personal Kilimanjaro, snow devils, colossi of ice and snow and mist form a chorus line across the summit, doing the can-can before being blown into the stratosphere to disappear into phantasmal vapor along the jetstream. Around the house, patches of khaki grass and dirt appear through the drifts. I know along the eastern wall, under the snow, the crocus bulbs make ready to push to the surface.

The river had frozen over with the first Arctic cold snap, shortly after the solstice. Over the last few weeks, fissures have began to appear. Once more, moving water can be seen, trundling down toward the flatlands. Late at night, when letting the hounds run and taking in the majesty of the cosmos, it's almost possible to hear the ice cracking. I imagine it sounds like whalesong, but, other than documentaries and tales told by travelers, I've never had occasion to hear a whale sing. Perhaps someday I'll remedy that. Maybe someday I'll finally make it Africa, where all the stories began.

If winter could be likened to a constricting serpent, I would be willing to wager its coils are loosening. The air is not as cold, even when it snows. Some of the subtle omens of the approaching season begin to manifest. The cast of light has softened from deep winter's harsh glare. A feeling of mutual excitement can be seen upon faces. Collective cabin fever is perhaps coming to an end.

According to the calendar, the vernal equinox is twenty-one days away. This means little more than the days are getting longer, and one of them will be of equal light and dark. It's possibly winter could hang on another month, perhaps two. Be that as it may, the constricting coils of winter have loosened. Sooner than any of us think, but later than we hope, it will slither away entirely, and it will be spring once more.


  1. I like comparing winter to a serpent. Sometimes, it just sneaks in there before you realize.

    And I'll be so happy when it's finally over.

  2. It has certainly seemed serpentine this year, its coils tightening and tightening. And, you're right, the ambush predator aspect; it'd been so mild-almost warm-before the cold snaps, and all of the sudden...