The Snow Man


One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine trees crusted with snow

– Wallace Steven’s

T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month, but I disagree. For my money, I think it is February that tortures the soul the most. It may be the shortest of months, but the toll it takes upon us is the greatest because it lacks the one thing that sustains us. Hope.

February will go as it comes; in a stinging wind.

We drove an hour North for 20 Prospect Jr.’s hockey game yesterday. Out across the flat, turf farms, and swamp land north of the city. The sunlight diffused through a gauze of clouds, not bright enough to wear sunglasses, not dark enough to open your eyes, the sky and the snow blurring into one another. Only the trees stood out against the gray light; small brown brushstrokes on a canvas of white.

It made me think of days in my youth, out walking on Dan’s farm. We’d put on our Sorrels, and parkas, and tramp back through the corn stubble to the woods, like arctic explorers. Step after step, our boots would crack through the crusted snow, as the wind cut into every sliver of exposed skin. Squinting, and stumbling, we’d reach the shelter of the woods at last. There the birches, and fir trees would break the wind, and we could once more open our eyes.

All around that gray wood, the north side of the trees were covered in a rime of ice. We’d search for the remains of an old Model T, rusting somewhere deep within the wood. I loved the woods in the winter time, it seemed so much larger than it did in the green folds of summer. With no leaves to block our view, and no swamp to wet our feet, the whole woods belonged only to us, and the few deer that watched us as we pushed silently through the thickets.

We’d walk for hours, until frozen and hungry we’d make our way back towards the old red barn in the distance. Our stomachs would groan, and ice would form around our scarves, but we knew that warmth, and home, were waiting.

Like those walks through the winter woods, these days of February seem to be an endless exploration that begins where it ends, in a chair inside the kitchen, with a hot mug to warm our hands. I could ask “what is the point?”, but I already know the answer. Some journeys exist just to test our strength.

February will winnow the strong from the weak like it always does. This is not an expedition for which we will be awarded with treasure. The only point is to finish, and live to walk through the woods again.

As I look out the window of the car on our way home, the sun has faded even more, as a froth of gray clouds descends from the north. The weatherman on the radio is warning of more snow to come. Already the first flakes have begun to fall.

Eyes half closed to keep out the wind, we search in the distance for the woods.

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42 thoughts on “The Snow Man

  1. I have to think that January is the worst month. It’s a reminder that yes, Christmas is over, and now we have no choice but to endure three more months of snow, cold, and no interesting holidays! At least February gives us Valentine’s Day (and is only 28 days long). March gives us a bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, we might see a bit of snow melting. And April? How can you not like a month which ushers in budding tulips and 50 degree weather?!?

    I bid adieu to January…good riddance!

    • I think I like January better than Februrary, because it still has that post holiday glow at the beginning. We’re always like Woo Hoo! New Toys! Let’s go outside and play. By the end of the month, we’re like the Donner party, all scowling at each other wondering which one to eat first if we get snowed in.

  2. I’d just like to stop at this juncture and tell everyone how much I’d like to live in a converted red barn with fabulous acoustics, wide plank pine floors and an awesome loft.
    Now, I’d like to change gears and tell you that Kelly Jong-il is calling a full assault on winter. Winter is like ass with none of the warmth.
    Winter must be destroyed using any and all means possible.
    If military manuvers are necessary, I will not hesitate to demonstrate the true might of the island of Dufmanno. I cannot in good conscience point and approve of winter for one of my many photo ops with the troops.
    Winter, I’m taking my ax to you and cutting you into tiny shards of wood before you sicken another member of this household causing Blue Cross Blue Shield to call and make sure you don’t actually just have plague and not the various illnesses you are repeatedly visiting the hospital for.
    Die winter die. Oh and February, you are the worst of all. I hope you have the most painful excrutiating exit EVER!!!!

  3. Also, someone needs to check on Vapid because she’s cloistered up there on a mountain covered by snow. If she hasn’t gone native and fashioned a stabbing device out of an icicle and run rampant through town taking down locals with her weapon then she is a saint.

  4. Oh and on my way to work this morning while the icicles hanging from my winter beard slowly melted in the heat of the luge I ride around in I saw a gaggle of people on the side a Route 7 donning ridiculously orange snow shoe’s and as I passed them I thought out loud: “Fucking Assholes.”

  5. While we don’t have nearly the temperatures, let alone the snow, down here that you have up there, I have to agree about February. With January, you have the carryover from the holidays.

    February is just … well … February.

  6. A beautifully written post, but I beg you to please include some hot chocolate and RUM with that, please. Brrrr. We’re about to get hit with the next major snow event! A potential of over a foot between tomorrow and Wednesday. I’m getting greedy and crossing my fingers for 2 days off work. Go big or go home, stupid snow.

    • We only got about six inches in the last 24 hrs. Now we are getting ready for the wind and the cold.

      Lookout Michigan! Incoming!

  7. I agree, I’ve never liked February. After Christmas, then my birthday in January, I’m like “Okay, the fun parts of Winter are over, we can have Spring now, yes? What? No? We’ve got approximately three more months of this shitty weather?! $%&@!!”

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