Credit: Sharman/Flickr

An Ode to Winter: The Familiar Made Alien

As published in The Cliffhanger, Mar. 5

Winter forges a world akin to a desert, seemingly barren and harsh, full of deception, mirages and apparitions. It is ruled by a powerful force. Sure, ice storms and what-not, but the real talent winter possesses is to transform even the most rudimentary and mundane scenes into otherworldly and alien landscapes. Unfamiliar and frightening, yet undeniably seductive, it is ultimately unknowable.

Credit: Torek/Flickr
Credit: Torek/Flickr

A brisk blowing snow replaces a field with a hazy endless abyss—where one is lost and doomed without a beacon—while crisp fallen flakes and sunny skies create a glittering tableau so beautiful it hurts the eyes to look upon it. Freezing fog stills the world with its icy fragility. A momentary break in a snow squall exposes a sunset, muted in a palette of soft pinks and yellows that shatters the illusion of the black and white movie in which we walk for the months of wintertime. Jagged uprisings of ice at the edge of a frigid lake become mountains, beyond which, stretches an endless and winding valley of snow. Cars, street benches, park swings and trees become ensconced in impenetrable cold shells.

Even zoomed in, the metaphor persists. The unequivocally perfect geometry of a snowflake, a single frozen sphere of a raindrop poised on a leaf, an intangible soap bubble waiting for the careful photographer, a rabbit’s tiny paw prints trailing across new snow, the spectrum of light diffused through a rippled icicle, a winter berry coated in ethereal frost; these are quiet moments of artistry hidden within an abysmal and harsh season…

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