A Brief Meditation on Winter

The forecast high in Chicago today is 0 degrees. With winds, the wind chills will be dangerously cold. Most schools are closed. When I moved to Chicago I was actually frightened of the winters and dreaded them. For the past 18 winters I’ve thought a lot about cold, wind, snow and ice and I’ve come to embrace them. It’s an entirely different story if you can’t afford sufficient heat or are homeless. I’m talking about people who are driving cars, wearing down coats and have dry feet. While some around me may bemoan it, I’ve bought the requisite insulating, wicking, non-cotton layers and Thinsulate-lined, waterproof boots so I can be warm enough to focus on winter as a time of beauty and fun. Everything looks different. When snow falls on branches, you can see the branches more clearly. The sun reflects off the snow into our house and makes the whole house feel bright and cheery. The ice formations on the inside of this 100 year old window look like a painting. The silhouettes of dog walkers against the snow visible from the window, the crisp, dry air on your face when you’re shoveling, the sound of the snow plows clearing the streets, the visual chaos of children sledding down hills, cross country skiing through the woods after a heavy snow. The gray slush, slippery streets, gray skies and frozen locks are part of it but you don’t have to make them the focus of winter. We’ll slow down a bit today. We won’t run so many errands. We’ll keep a fire going and make a pot of soup and a loaf of bread. There’s joy, beauty and fun to be had in winter. If you look for it, you’ll find it.