“One must have a mind of winter” writes Wallace Stevens in his poem “The Snow Man.” The days are much shorter now as we approach the Solstice, and this has often been a time for reflection, for staying inside, for thinking about the world and the lives we lead. I grew up in the North, where white and gray and brown were the color of winter. Now it is green that dominates the landscape, and the heat and dryness of summer is giving way to cool days and rain. Lettuce is growing but tomatoes are gone, and it is still a good time for reflection.
A mind of winter – what might that be? For Stevens it had to do with cold and snow and a sense emptiness. I remember that from my childhood. But here it is different. A mind of winter here might be about life-giving rain and beautiful days, long nights, the sheen of snow on the mountains.
The point is that all places can be beautiful if we see the beauty that is there; all places can be places for celebration and for reflection. Snow, rain, ice, wind, sun – they are the elements that make up the world and are worthy of our love.
It is often said that ancient people were afraid the sun would not return and so created solstice rituals to bring the sun back. That may be true, but maybe those rituals were not done in fear but in joy, affirming that change is good, that we need cold and warm, dark and light, dry and wet. Maybe they celebrated the sun going away and the sun coming back.
Maybe a winter mind is one that rejoices in the change, loves the snow or the rain, loves the wind or the calm. Just loves it all.