Donald Hall on Winter

In New Hampshire we know ourselves by winter—in snow, in cold, in darkness. For some of us the first true snow begins it; for others winter begins with the first bruising assault of zero weather. There is yet another sort, light-lovers, for whom winter begins with dark’s onset in mid-August. If we wake as we ought to at 5:30, we begin waking in darkness, and dawn turns throaty with the ululations of photophiliacs, noctophobics, some of whom are fanatical enough to begin lamentation late in the month of June—when dawn arrives at 4:32 a.m. and the day before it arrived at 4:31:30. …

Some of us, on the other hand, are darkness-lovers. We do not dislike the early and late daylight of June, whippoorwill’s graytime, but we cherish the gradually increasing dark of November, which we wrap around ourselves in the prosperous warmth of woodstove, oil, electric blanket, storm window, and insulation. We are partly tuber, partly bear. Inside our warmth we fold ourselves in the dark and its cold—around us, outside us, safely away from us; we tuck ourselves up in the long sleep and comfort of cold’s opposite, warming ourselves by thought of the cold, lighting ourselves by darkness’s idea. Or we are Persephone gone underground again, cozy in the amenities of Hell. Sheltered between stove and electric light, we hollow islands of safety within the cold and dark. As light grows less each day, our fur grows thicker. By December 22 we are cozy as a cat hunkered under a Glenwood.

—Donald Hall, Eagle Pond, 3-4.

This entry was posted in Literature. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.