The weather made her feel as if there was no point to life: whether you worked hard didn’t matter, whether you found someone to love didn’t matter, because even if you worked hard and found someone to love, a day like this would come, when a strange damp coolness seeped in through the windowpanes and seeped in through you, make you see that everything was meaningless. Brian Morton The Dylanist
Winter, the bane of my life. The dreaded season. A time to escape, to go underground. And yet for Adam Gopnik it is a season to love, one of serenity and of all things “warmth.” In his new book, Winter: Five Windows on the Season, he writes about this season in an imaginative way.
“My subject is the new feelings winter has provoked in men and women of those modern times: fear, joy exhilaration, magnetic appeal and mysterious attraction. Since to be modern is to let imagination and invention do a lot of the work once done by tradition and ritual.”
The book was originally presented in a series of informal evening talks with a group of Gopnik’s friends and then as the more formal Massey Lecture Series, a Canadian Broadcasting Company radio forum to address important contemporary issues or as a reviewer put it, “a Stanley Cup final for the mind.”
The published version of Gopnik’s broadcasts consists of five chapters, each devoted to a different aspect of winter
• Romantic Winter--musical, literary, and artistic depictions
• Radical Winter--places of extreme winter, the polar expeditions (North and South)
• Recuperative Winter--the winter holidays, Christmas, the carols, Dickens
• Recreational Winter--winter sports, hockey (The Montreal Canadians and ice-skating
• Remembering Winter—personal recollections of snowstorms, school closings, and days by the fire with a good book
“Joy,” “appeal,” “attraction.” I am thinking to myself how can anyone feel like this about winter. My feelings are precisely the opposite. But I was raised in Los Angeles, where winter can be as warm as summer. That may be one possible reason for our differences.
What struck me most about Winter was how happy Gopnik says he is then. “Gray skies and December lights are my idea of secret joy.”“…a season long seen as a sign of nature’s withdrawal from grace, has become for us a time of human warmth.”
And “by us” Gopnik refers to those who live and have been raised, as he was, in Canada (Montreal) and to his family that, like most families are drawn together inside their homes when the weather outside is bitterly cold and icy.
Gopnik writes: "I love winter, I love snow, I love blizzards. I love the way it transforms an ordinary scene." How fortunate, I think to myself as I sit at my desk shivering.
I am done in by the winter. It virtually immobilizes me. I see men and women outside walking without a cap, bald men, men who have shaved their head. How can they do that? Do they eat more, have different genes, or are they simply braver? My ambition is to delete winter from my life.
After I read the book, I thought why not do the same for summer, the season I love, the joy of my life, a time to embrace not flee. How writers and artists depict summer, the place to be (Italy), the sports (baseball), the holidays (fireworks), swimming at Zuma Beach. Summer—Five Windows on the Season. Look for it soon at your favorite bookstore.