Mind of Winter

This week I went to the Kelly Writers House, a creative writing hub on campus.  There, I gulped down homemade soup until I felt uncomfortable, appreciated the rarely-kindled fireplace, and listened to poetry/prose readings.


I like to go to these gatherings to try and inspire my inner-writer — you could say that I’m in a bad case of writer’s block recently.  The theme of this event was “Mind of Winter,” based on a Wallace Stevens poem:

“The Snow Man”
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


The purpose was to muster warmth against the cold and dark of January.  To remind us that we only consider the winter as sad and dreary because those are the qualities we attribute to it.  Winter is what we make of it, essentially, though of course the good people at the Writers House elaborated this more beautifully.

It was a striking event and concept, especially because I’ve been pondering winter symbolism in my own stories.  For me, the clean and fresh whiteness of winter moves me — it has signaled many of my reawakenings and restarts, year after year.  I love how quiet  the outdoors are during this season.  And the snow falls so slowly, stretching out every moment.  You go outside and see your breath in front of you.  Winter is such a serene, meditative month.

But I know this isn’t a popular opinion.  So I challenge you to find the pleasant edge of winter: the peace in the silence, invigorating rush in the bitter chill, the beauty in the frost.


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