Jay De Man

a marvelous winter

Before I show you a rarity encountered, I desire you to detach from common themes of wintertide feeling. 

The somewhat bleak prelude to a truly marvelous nature preserve. 

The somewhat bleak prelude to a truly marvelous nature preserve. 

First, divest yourself of the idea of inconvenience: there is only opportunity. Each of us understands the embittering cold through tacit intelligence provided in fingers gloved and feet booted, but some add on to the truly simple binaries of winter (warm and cold, dark and light) ideas of personal affront: the contempt of nature against us each as individuals. Though not a season of suitability for growth, winter affords a long gaze into the components most human. Even in the age of the Moderns, we are given an opportunity to re-experience necessity in each movement between buildings as frigid air outlines lungs, ice troubles balance. 

Second, the fruits of harvest are most evident when they’re relied upon to the exclusion of nearly all else. Though we’re largely separated from the experience of natural rhythm in our amenity-rich lives (a blessing, make no mistake!), the opportunity to recognize even that we bear more easily the gelid when we remember the summer is one which restores a truly Christian understanding. For, we do truly understand our own lives in light of eventual restoration and redemption: likewise, winter affords trial, trial more easily traversed in view of eventual peace. 

Third, though when viewed in the frame of warmth we do await spring’s redemption and summer’s fulfillment, let’s not forget winter is a window into true quiet and rest. Acoustics of a world lined in concrete, resounding in friction, controlled explosion, and ambient whirr really only change when they meet adequate damping: the wooly perfection of sparkling snow. This anechoic coat lets itself over everything, delivering us of the soft tyranny of constant noise. I find myself uncomfortable when I allow myself outside to pause: the crunch of snow beneath my feet no longer gives the illusion — instead silence abounds.

At the instant I discover that moment when it is a delight, hope, and rest to know winter however it may manifest, there is marvel. Truly, we dwell among wonders. Here are some scenes just before the first true snowstorm of the season. These mark not only transition, but transience as the natural world shifts in response, only changing always. I savor routine walks at Calvin, because sometimes I catch these delightful moments of rare beauty.