Winter was slow in coming this year, creeping over the mountains with the heavy wet clouds which shroud the high peaks and roll slowly down the slopes. He brought with them the cold chill of dampness and the biting winds which carry the dusts of the drought high up into the sky before they return in the raindrops and fog. That same dust covered my windows and blocked the sun but even as I thought to clean them today they are streaked now with the morning rain.
Rain, yes, here in the lower elevation and coming down in sheets as it is so cold as to be on the verge of becoming hail, already turning the ground white in but a brief barrage. It will be snowing in Mescalero, just miles up the road, and Sierra Blanca, the White Mountain, will live up to its name by evening. This is good, the ski run will open on time this year and there will be many reasons for the Thanksgiving Day celebrations. Even the golden leaves of the cottonwoods have dimmed this morning in the heavy grey haze of winter, and the green leaves of the elms will have shriveled against the cold, they stayed late this year also.
Winter; such a burly, grouchy man he is. I can see him walking down the slope of the distant hills, the one where the fog has settled deep into the canyon and the days light barely illuminates the curve of the mountainside he descends from. He is grizzled and old but not yet past his prime. His midriff is broad with a hearty store of fat but his arms and chest are still solid muscle and hard to the touch in an almost inhuman way, too hard and solid to be mere muscle yet dense with the same. I would like him, even if his hard blue eyes would show not even a twinkle of humor, I would still believe it was there. He is a killer and has so little compassion or tolerance for weakness. Still yet I admire the same, he won’t allow any weakness in himself either so I can forgive him his coldness, even if he really means it. I have loved other men like him, and barely anyone else!
How can I caper to such meanness when I am myself Summers’ child? I was born into the heat of the summer but as much as I joy in the freedom of that season so I await the cool of fall and savor the deeper cold of winter, even if I shiver more than I used to. I would still brave the cold given the choice, I can bundle up against it while summer forbids shedding all of my clothes and even that is a futile effort as it leaves tender skin bared to the sun. Nakedness leaves no protection, and also offers the answer to my previous question. Winter requires mindfulness and protection and one must protect herself from his onslaught, a practice I have honed since my childhood days, and it is the adversity which keeps me strong. This is why I like him so well, so long as he is a threat to my safety I will not chance to weaken.
Two summers ago I made this old school bus my home. The summer was hot and I had no means to cool the air but for the meager breeze off the nearby creek. I slept with the doors open, my mattress and box springs set on the floor at the rear of the bus. I was struggling financially so I put very little towards any improvements, bathing outside within a curtain I strung off a nearby pole and trying to do so before sunset when the wind began to cool. By the time Winter came close I had chiseled off the remaining bolts where the seats had been and had begun laying in a wood floor, but I was by no means prepared for his arrival. The warm days of summer had lulled me into contentment and I had given little thought regarding anything else. Winter arrived before I had completed my efforts and he barged in the door with a frigid blast which I thought might in fact kill me. I woke that October morning to a 12 degree cold in which my Bic lighter would not even flare to light the gas stove, my only true heat source at the time. I thought about the movie, “Into The Wild” and how close I was to the same, in spite of the close proximity of civilization. I finished the floor soon after, forfeiting any other investment short of food and gas.
I stayed cold that whole winter, adding what comforts I could as money allowed, paneling the walls with Styrofoam and wood, covering the windows with blankets, but still chilled by the bare glass and metal which my home is made of. I chuckle to myself as I am at this moment too warm, stepping over to damper the wood stove and watching as the rain turns to snow and hides the nearby mountains with its haze. Winter would have it that I was still struggling but he has turned his back on me to threaten other more vulnerable victims. Only the strong are meant to survive and for the moment I have proven myself. Still, he will come back to check, often, and I am reminded that I cannot weaken. I didn’t fully disappoint him either, both of my kindling buckets are nearly empty and I will brave the cold later to refill them!
If winter were my worst adversity I should be content, it is a goal is have sought after all of my life. I would have it that he would love me also. I seem to desire such a man as that. He is cold and steadfast and consistent, but Fall has already sidled up beside him and won his favor and Spring is there to flirt with him after his self imposed confinement. I am most like Fall, loving the same colors and the cooler days which accompany her, but I am neither as strong nor as beautiful as she, even if I aspire to be. She and he, along with the other seasons, are more God-like and eternal and while I shall age and pass one day, they will carry on. Instead, as is my human lot to live with, I will track their journey and love them for what they are.
Even now Fall and Winter paint the scenery together and I pause to record their progress. I rise to put another stick of wood in the fire as the air has cooled quickly since I dampered the stove. The rain turns to snow and the storm comes in earnest, already piling snow into the cracks and crevices of the rocks and dirt. I think of Winter and his cold shoulder as Fall’s colors begin to fade, the dampness sinking in and buffering her brilliance. I would that my colors stay bright and think I will seek a slightly warmer partner, but someone who will still help me to be strong. I can no more relinquish my freedom than Fall can, she has turned and walked way. She paused hesitantly and looked back over her shoulder before she was gone, checking to see if he was really serious. He ignored her and then threw another blast of wind in her direction. She pulled her cloak a little closer around her shoulders even as the snow began to whiten her hair and she left, looking for greener pastures to paint. Winter growled deep in his chest and threw his white blanket over her most recent landscape; he will paint his own picture before darkness falls. I will enjoy his artistry also, and must thank him for his lessons; this year I was prepared for his arrival! So was she.