Thursday, January 6, 2011


It is winter.  Last week, at the end of the holiday season, it snowed.  It was a large storm and all was immobilized in New York. There was so much silence.  The streets and lawns and waters were covered with snow and ice.  The mayor of New York vanished and the streets of the city were filled and filled with angelic whiteness.  Winter swallowed up human activity.  In the suburbs, we peered out from our windows at the angry storm.  The wind raged. As the wind slowed on the second day, snow covered everything—a mountainous heavy covering.  Slowly, we (suburbanites) emerged from our warm shelters and began shoveling.  It took hours.  The snow was deep and wet and thick.  Our backs ached when we had done with clearing our driveways and porches and stairs.  We returned to our warm shelters and lit fires and read books and thought about how winter changes everything.  In winter, we become internal creatures.  We return to the selves we were before the warm summer—dark and pensive and inward.   How wonderful it is to have seasons.  How simple and bland must it be to live in a place of single or only mildly different seasons. For those of us who go from a hot green summer to dark cold winter again and again, we experience death and rebirth in profound ways.  We get to be different people living in vastly different worlds—in summer, we are outgoing and free, corporeal and lush and sensual; in winter—our bodies quiet and our minds become ethereal and wordy things.   

Summer now seems like a dream.


Larry Ely said...

The picture of rhythmic life we get from Rudolf Steiner is that a midsummer we start falling into the earth and find ourselves in densest incorporation at midwinter. This is a movement from solstice to solstice. Steiner pictures for us this rhythmic falling in a succession of three frames. First there is the world-cultural frame, where we come from spirit down to earth civilization in guided steps via avatars who instruct humanity in each new epoch or age of 2160 years. The process proceeds in guidance on the way down to the earth, with lessening directing of affairs until a turning point, at which point, humanity, now fully in possession of itself, speaks and acts increasingly more and more of its own accord. That turning point was the inception of the Age of the Fishes (Pisces). The next rhythm is that of the year, where we fall from summer into winter. The third and final rhythm is that of the day, where we fall from high noon to midnight. In this last rhythm there is the meditation of beholding the sun at midnight. - Larry Ely

Unknown said...

It's funny reading about how bland it must be to only have one more or less "season." I came out West from Massachusetts and remember feeling crazy when "winter" came and it was 72 degrees and I was reading Faulkner at Stanford in shorts on my deck. I was missing winter and not missing it, loving this new Eden and aware of a loss of a range of emotions because the weather didn't change so that I could change.

I know this winter has been pretty rough on my folks who live in Western Mass. And I have young friends at Vassar and Wesleyan from here (cohousing) who are bemoaning their wintry fates at the moment. And yet...I think what you say about who we are in winter is very true. I have spent over 20 days this year up in the mountains, writing and skiing, and I am a different person when it snows four feet and the world is white and cold and the air is like champagne.

Hope this post is still true for you, and you aren't desperate to get on a plane to Florida or Hawaii! ;-)

Ross Wolfe said...

Recently I wrote a blog entry offering a leftist critique of the ideology of “Green” environmentalism, animal rights activism, deep ecology, eco-friendliness, and lifestyle politics in general (veganism, “dumpster diving,” “buying organic,” etc.). I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter and any responses you might have to its criticisms.

Steiner may have been a polymath, but he shrouded whatever insights he may have had in cosmological mysticism. He's interesting if you are looking at Russian Symbolist poetry, but in the end he was a spiritualist crank.