Ah, winter, that period of long sleep between the falling of the leaves and the blushing of new leaves. Never mind what the scientists and geeks and those with a lack of romance and poetry in their soul say, winter begins with the first red nose, running freely in icy winds, or the first limb breaking while still holding a leaf or two and burdened with pounds of ice.
Winter, in the northern hemisphere of this dear old planet, officially begins with the Winter Solstice, on or about December 21st. There are feasts and parties and festivals celebrating the occasion, some pagan, some relating to various religions, some just because you got a new pair of skis.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, in Poems, in 1847:
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow.
December is supposed to be the great snowmaker, and for us that live in the shadow of the towering Sierra Nevada, that means skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and just having fun while bundled like a child waiting for the bus. Which brings us to this famous saying, written by Lydia Maria Child in Flowers for Children, and titled “Thanksgiving Day:”
Over the river and through the wood,
To grandfather’s house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh,
Through the white and drifted snow.
Will you have chestnuts roasting on an open fire when those first major snow storms arrive, or just a pint or two of your own special grog? I enjoy the pleasure of eggnog, particularly when it’s home made with mounds of whipped egg white meringue topping the brandy and hot water, gently stirred in and dusted with nutmeg or other spices of pleasure.
Good old fashioned rum and coffee covered in thick whipped cream ain’t bad either, chum, but I think William Shakespeare may have had the right answer, back in 1594 when he wrote in Love’s Labour’s Lost:
When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl.
Thus the cycle continues, winter slowly allows more and more sunlight to linger, just a bit each day, mind you, until, yes, a bud appears, then a leaf, and we put aside the skis and boards and skates, and rummage about, knowing full well we put those cut offs in the third drawer down.
Ah, winter, good friend. Read good books and stay regular. Ta…