Through the lens of my upstairs back window is a picture of Winter, staring back at me like an old tintype photograph of washed out objects reduced to blacks, whites, and grays, frigid and still. I complain about winter like everyone else, in part so I feel normal, with normal-person grievances like extreme cold and icy roads.
But I love winter. I always have.The six-on-six sashes of the double window show me a grid-like view. There’s a wedge of my hardened back yard below, and segments of my neighbors’ yards next door and across the back alley lined with cars. To the left I see a third of the three-story beige-and-white mansion topped with a widow’s walk and fronting the alley.
It’s as unlikely a location for a mansion as you could get especially in this neighborhood, as if a tornado had picked it up from the southern end of Old Town and plunked it down here.
The leafless trees in the back yards across the alley slice up the gloom. Their curved, upper branches drain the pale sky like veins flowing down into thick tree trunks that disappear behind sleeves of brittle wood fencing.
The feathery branches of my evergreen tree dominate the foreground right-side of this image, the only fluff of color on a cloudy late afternoon. It’s a reminder that not all is dead, or asleep, outside.
Another reminder are the finches, doves, and cardinals that battle over prime branches of the evergreen tree. Who can blame them, when verdant real estate is a premium this time of year? The birds swoop in and out, and the exasperated ones occasionally retreat to my roof – or grasp the window screen – for a break in the battle. Never the fierce cardinals.
When it grows dark and I leave this upstairs view, I go downstairs and, eventually, fold myself into the corner of the couch, wrapped in the pink and green wool-and-mohair throw blanket that I bought in Ireland and carried throughout my hitch-hiking trip there almost 25 years ago. The blanket still looks like new, and is one of the few mementos I ever purchased during my many trips to Europe in my former life.
Maybe I went to the trouble to buy it and carry it around because it was cold during that Irish summer. Maybe it’s because I’m so attached to winter and its homey comforts.
Like woolen sweaters, and the suede ankle boots lined with faux fur that warm my feet better than anything. Like steaming cups of tea and cocoa, and the flicker of flames glowing in the fireplace.
Like the wintry scene out my back window, which will ground me until spring pulls me out the door.