It must be getting on to be winter. The snows have started to fall. Along the highest peaks, in the shady spots of open areas, and on the north faces there is a base coat of white, which will last until the earliest days of summer. There are places up on the tundra where it never, ever melts, and that's just the way of it.
My daughter thinks I delight in frightening tourists. Perhaps this baseless accusation comes from when I've spoken to some of them during a snowstorm. It's always someone from somewhere that snow is something seen on screens and told of in fantastic stories. They think it's supposed to be all fluffy and pretty like some greeting card. The idea that snow could have a more menacing aspect seems unfathomable.
"It was so slippery and scary driving in it!" One might all but cry. "I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life! You should tell anyone that thinks to get out on the roads to turn back or take tranquilizers!"
"Maybe," I say off-handedly. "But there's always the next storm."
Their eyes widen and their jaws go slack. Sometimes, you can almost catch the scent of urine. A sadistic man would find this amusing.
"You mean there's more?" They'll ask, like our conversation is some sort of infomercial. I may or may not chuckle. I might or might not growl a little, the sound crossed somewhere between a feral snow leopard and a very hungry crocodile.
"There's more!" I say. And, despite remarks to the contrary, there has never been a demonic smirk on my face when I've uttered that phrase, because I am not a sadistic man.
It must be getting on to be winter. Fires are a daily occurrence. The scent, and, on cooler days, the sight, of wood smoke is as expected and the khaki coloring of the south faces between the evergreens. Heavier coats and sweaters are worn with more sincerity. Only the truly eccentric and woefully unprepared are seen about in things like shorts and flip-flops. Those of us who experience pains through our frames become increasingly aware of the shifts in barometer and temperature. My own twisted skeleton snaps, crackles, and pops like the foundation of an old, old, house and brittle old black widow webs.
It must be getting on to be winter. The cast of light has changed. Gone is the softness of summer's glow. The daylight seems thin and distant and brief. As the world tilts upon its axis with the shifting of the seasons, the sun hides behind peaks longer and longer. Where I live, it will not be long at all before the sun does not emerge from behind the ridge line for six weeks of long dark. This is the closest I will ever come to living in Alaska, and I know there are friends of mine from back in that past life of the greater metroplex who are convinced I am insane because of this.
It must be getting on to be winter. My thoughts turn inward. More philosophical and introspective and metaphysical. Out on walkabout, I can feel the Divine much more intimately than when curled in front of the fire with a hot cup of tea. It is not that during winter I feel detached from it, but I am not out in the bush as much. My meditations are different. Colder. Darker.
It must be getting on to be winter. I find myself thinking more and more of the dead. The first anniversary of the bruja's death is in but a couple weeks, and what would've been Jibril's forty-first birthday is at month's end. The second anniversary of my mother's passing and eight years for my grandmother occur in the deepest of winter. Depending upon the year, Jibril died right before, or on, the vernal equinox. It will always be winter to me. I can think of others who have walked on during the cold times; my great grandmother, my grandfather, and my father's mother. Yet, hypocritically, I find it difficult think of the birthdays of those I care for who still draw breath; my daughter, my father, Sabina, Madam Lung, the gypsy, and Lee.
But perhaps my hypocrisy knows no bounds...
It must be getting on to be winter. I catch myself wanting to sleep more, despite how often my biologics will only allow for a few very short and fitful hours. Hibernation holds a certain sense of eroticism to those with fucked up sleeping patterns, or maybe that's just me, and I'm a different breed of cat.
It must be getting on to be winter. There is anxiety. I worry we'll freeze. That we'll starve. The warmer times are so bountiful, whilst winter is the lean time that tests you; not by blood and fire, but by ice and sheer force of will.
All of us, even those ardent snowbums, wonders at one point or another if it'll ever get warm again. Spring, summer, and autumn are all so finite. Winter is much like the dark and airless void behind the stars; vast and infinite and cold and unforgiving.
I pull away to look out the window, catching the sky as it shifts to the deepest blue of evening. There is another storm on its way. I can feel it down to the marrow of my twisted skeleton. As I take a sip of tea, every joint from my shoulder down snaps, crackles, and pops. With a growl and chuckle somewhere between resignation and acceptance, I lean forward once more.
It must be getting on to be winter. But so it goes. It is getting on to be time to hunker down.