In Seattle there is actual snow and there is talking about snow. We tend to do more of the latter. But every now and again we do in fact get some serious, deep snow. I recall the two huge back-to-back storms of 1996, between Christmas and New Year’s. On a Sunday then, when lots of churches cancelled services, I stubbornly decided to go ahead. This proved a good call, not because my sermon was so great, but because we discovered the wet snow had caused a rupture in the sanctuary’s flat roof. Water cascaded down one wall adding an interesting special effect. But two folks got up there and shoveled the wet snow over the side, saving a worse disaster.
While the talk about snow can be overblown, it's also understandable. We don’t get it regularly enough to really become proficient at its removal, like say Toronto, where I’ve also lived. When you add in Seattle’s hills, a couple inches followed by a good freeze can bring things pretty much to a halt. What to do then? Brew up a good cup of coffee or tea, bake bread and make a good soup. Go for walks or cross-country skiing in the neighborhood. Get acquainted with the neighbors. Heck, get re-acquainted with your family! Snow days are a kind of grace (so long as they don’t go on too long).
To help the enjoyment of winter and snow along, I’ve gathered some winter provisions. First, five quotations about winter from great writers or artists, which I selected from Nika Knight's Winter's Tales. Then five movie suggestions, great films you may have missed, which will be good viewing on a winter’s night.
Artist Andrew Wyeth on his preference for winter: “I prefer winter and fall, when you can feel the bone structure in the landscape — the loneliness of it — the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it — the whole story doesn’t show.”
Its true. Especially enjoy the trees.
Turkish novelist Oran Pamuk on the transformative effect of snowfall from his haunting novel Snow: “The sight of snow made her think how beautiful and short life is and how, in spite of all their enmities, people have so very much in common; measured against eternity and the greatness of creation, the world in which they lived was narrow. That’s why snow drew people together. It was as if snow cast a veil over hatreds, greed, and wrath and made everyone feel close to one another.”
Historian David McCullough shares a remarkable vignette from the life of Theodore Roosevelt: “Once upon a time in the dead of winter in the Dakota Territory, Theodore Roosevelt took off in a makeshift boat down the Little Missouri River in pursuit of a couple of thieves who had stolen his prized rowboat. After several days on the river, he caught up and got the draw on them with his trusty Winchester, at which point they surrendered. Then Roosevelt set off in a borrowed wagon to haul the thieves cross-country to justice. They headed across the snow-covered wastes of the Badlands to the railhead at Dickinson, and Roosevelt walked the whole way, the entire 40 miles. It was an astonishing feat, what might be called a defining moment in Roosevelt’s eventful life. But what makes it especially memorable is that during that time, he managed to read all of Anna Karenina. I often think of that when I hear people say they haven’t time to read.”
Mark Twain suggests a special treat for a winter’s evening: “I know the look of an apple that is roasting and sizzling on the hearth on a winter’s evening, and I know the comfort that comes of eating it hot, along with some sugar and a drench of cream… I know how the nuts taken in conjunction with winter apples, cider, and doughnuts, make old people’s tales and old jokes sound fresh and crisp and enchanting.”
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