The Quiet Season

I was thinking about writing today, and for the first time in my life, I longed for winter — the long, dark quiet of the night. All sounds are muffled, there is no smell but cold, and you can be utterly alone in a wide, wide world.

The summer night is full of sound, crickets chirping, locusts buzzing, traffic flying by even in the small hours. There are the smells of plants and dirt and barbecue and rainstorms. But in the winter night comes early, and with it the eerie silence made by a blanket of snow. Summer is all around you, there are living things everywhere, but in winter, you can look out upon the darkness and feel the world collapse in upon yourself. It is both lonely and freeing. I love the silence and the darkness, being alone with my thoughts that way. I have to answer to no one but the questions and doubts in my own mind. I can have endless conversations with myself, working out my desires and conflicts and the meanings the universe holds within me. It is a time of creation.

That seems odd, that winter should create. Fall heralds the oncoming onslaught of darkness and cold in which I can create within, while without it signals the destruction of the life of summer. Spring melts away the aloneness and freedom of winter and brings out summer’s stifling closeness. This, then, is finally the reason to love the winter, to always look to the north, to orient life toward the snows that are coming. Summer is easy to love, and it gives its love easily away, but winter is less kind and accommodating. You can love it on its own terms, for what it has to give, but its love is not the warm love of summer, and no fires and Christmas carols can make it anything but what it is. Winter is the state of suspension in which the soul is free to seek itself.

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