Thursday, January 29, 2004

An Introduction to Winter

On a winter night when it's snowing, go out, turn your head up and stick out your tongue. Taste the snowflakes melting on your tongue. If there's already enough snow on the ground, lie down on your back and look at the sky. Are there stars? Northern lights? Then move your straight legs and arms up and down as far as they go. Get up carefully, and admire your artwork. You have just created a buttangel! You could make a whole row of these, a chorus to sing the ode to winter. If you are a man, you could also write them a song to sing in the snow.

Next, make a snow lantern if the snow balls easily in your hands. Make nine snowballs and set them in a tight circle on the ground. Place another seven snowballs above the first eleven, slightly inwards and inbetween the first balls. Continue with five and then three. Slip a lighted candle or tealight down through the whole that remains, and cap the whole with one perfect snowball. You could have a row of snowlights leading to your door, inviting the spirits of winter in, or just partyguests if you prefer.

Find a piece of corrugated cardboard and a hill where children go sledding. If you are shy, wait until they have gone to bed. Sit on your cardboard and slide down the hill. Don't forget to scream. Then try it on your back, head first.

Go home and make a SnowBush. The principle is the same as in making snowmen. Use pebbles for eyes, nostrils and teeth. Use larger stones to pelt the SnowBush down.

On a clear winter morning, take a walk. Look at the architecture of nature, its spare, elegant bones, the beauty of the bodies of trees, the contrasting plushness of winter animals and birds. Notice the colors that hide in what first seems starkly black and white: the silvers and faint burgundies, the pinks and icy blues, the colored shadows of tree trunks and boulders, and then the sudden thrill of the blood-red berries on bare branches.

Then go back to your warm home, anticipating a hot cup of chocolate or a glass of cider with a cinnamon stick, and the warmth that will slowly seep back into your fingers and cheeks while your eyes will retain the shine and brightness of winter.