Snow­fall is be­gin­ning, but i re­main in de­nial

Tillsonburg News - - OPINION - JULIE ANNE PATTEE —Julie Anne Pattee is a Mon­treal writer.

my mom sent me an email a few days ago re­mind­ing me i’d left my son’s win­ter boots at her house last spring, “in case you were won­der­ing where they were.” i hadn’t been. if win­ter boots were some­thing i wanted to think about right now, i might have re­mem­bered that when we vis­ited last easter, my son shed his boots and traded them in for run­ning shoes, and i left them there, think­ing they might fit my niece this year.

oK, to be hon­est, i might not have re­mem­bered. i have three jars of may­on­naise in my fridge. or­ga­ni­za­tion hasn’t al­ways been my strong suit.

how­ever, un­like some of the emails my mom sends me, re­mind­ing me to switch my clocks back or get my taxes done, for ex­am­ple, i ac­tu­ally do ap­pre­ci­ate her an­nual “it’s time to get ready for win­ter” email, de­spite its im­pli­ca­tion that i’m not on top of the stuff of adult­hood.

it re­ally would be a smart idea to sort all our win­ter gear out now. it’s just that i’d pre­fer to re­main in de­nial. i’ll prob­a­bly pull things out fran­ti­cally at the last minute, like i do ev­ery year. my son may end up wear­ing run­ning shoes to school on the day of the first snow­fall — again.

i’m not sure when ev­ery­thing changed, but the first snow­fall used to feel like a spe­cial, much an­tic­i­pated oc­ca­sion.

when i was a kid, i’d sit by the win­dow and watch the first snowflakes sprin­kle over the earth. They made my bor­ing street and all its brown, box-like houses sud­denly feel en­chanted.

ev­ery year i for­got that win­ter meant heavy snow pants and cold, wet feet. The whole world had just been trans­formed be­fore my eyes. it felt full of ex­cit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties.

more and more peo­ple it seems, are try­ing to bring back the magic of the first snow­fall. mommy blogs and fam­ily-ori­ented web­sites are filled with tips on how to start new, first­snow­fall tra­di­tions, like bak­ing brown­ies cov­ered in a dust­ing of ic­ing sugar. Fam­i­lies plan cosy nights in, or bun­dle up to en­joy win­ter pic­nics in the park.

There’s no rea­son fam­i­lies should be the only ones get­ting into the spirit of things. Pop­ping open a bot­tle of Cham­pagne or invit­ing friends over for din­ner to mark the first snow­fall can help spark the feel­ing that the be­gin­ning of win­ter is not some­thing to dread.

as adults, we’ve grown ac­cus­tomed to wel­com­ing win­ter with heavy hearts. it has come to mean putting our win­ter tires on, stor­ing pa­tio fur­ni­ture and clear­ing the last wet piles of leaves off our lawns, in­stead of pond hockey, crack­ling fire­places and the be­gin­ning of the hol­i­day sea­son.

it hasn’t helped that win­ter has carved a dreary place in our so­cial imag­i­nary. more of­ten than not, our iconic win­ter scenes draw at­ten­tion to the sea­son’s hard­ships. some of our more cel­e­brated painters filled their can­vases with hud­dled fig­ures trudg­ing through grey-blue land­scapes. in Clarence gagnon’s fa­mous il­lus­tra­tions for the novel maria Chapde­laine, heavy snow threat­ens to slide off rooftops. Trees droop un­der its weight.

and in de­nis vil­leneuve’s blade run­ner 2049, enor­mous snow banks and icy storms are used to em­pha­size the char­ac­ters’ iso­la­tion and alien­ation. in the film’s fi­nal scene, though, the main char­ac­ter lies on his back like a snow an­gel, look­ing up at a white, ethe­real sky. snowflakes drift down and fill the scene with a feel­ing of pos­si­bil­ity. vil­leneuve has given us fresh, new snow. it’s a snow that fills the world with won­der.

it takes ef­fort, but it’s worth it to try to cul­ti­vate a sense of won­der. we lose this dreamy way of see­ing the world too quickly when life be­gins to de­liver its punches, but we’ve al­ways needed it to help carry us though the dark.

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