Tuesday, February 1, 2011


This post is named after a photo album my photographing friend Carrie keeps adding to on facebook. Not only do I love her photos, but I also just love that word. L'hiver. Mmmm. It makes me want to shiver with delight. Of course, it means "the winter" in French, but its so much prettier. I think about skating on a frozen pond at dusk, pink cheeks, mitted hands, knitted scarf. It makes me think of "The Mitten"--that illustrated story by Jan Brett that I loved as a kid. You know the one, all the animals pile into that grandma-made mitten to get warm.

Anyway, I was thinking today about how the winter is such an easy time to feel blue. It's gloomy, dark early, cold. The holidays are over, and there's still a long way until spring. You're pasty and maybe even somewhat doughy around the middle. The clothing starts to get boring, especially when all the stores have put out their spring lines--clothes we won't be able to wear for months. All you want is the warmth of the sun on a tropical island and a sunburn (even if it hurts) and your blond hair to come back and a cute boy to look at.

But something's always fascinated me about the deep seasons like this, the mid points of Winter and Summer. In the coldest depths of the Winter, it's unimaginable that you'll ever feel warm again; be outside without the armor of a heavy coat, boots, gloves, let alone wear a bathing suit and flip flops. And during the most oppressive heat wave of the summer, it's equally unthinkable that you would ever put on a coat. Even long sleeves are offensive. I could be a pessimist and talk about the fact that the human race is never satisfied: we're always searching for relieve, and once we get it, we want to swing the other way.

Mostly what I do in February is hunker down. It's a period of reflection where I often discover new-to-me music I fall in love with. It's a good time to be alone with your thoughts. It's a good time to write poetry and other stupid shit I like that (which I like to do). If you can, get out of the city. Go to the mountains and listen to the silence, or even the ocean, which is steely gray and hauntingly halcyonic this time of year. For some reason, the cold frees the mind, sharpens everything. Brings things into focus.

Some great wintertime albums to get into:

Ray LaMontagne: Gossip in the Grain (highlight: Winter Birds)

Cat Power: Moon Pix (highlight: Colors and the Kids)

Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago (highlight: Skinny Love)

Beth Orton: The Other Side of Daybreak (highlight: Daybreaker)

Bonnie "Prince" Billy: Master and Everyone (highlight: The Way)

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