tmbt: recognition cold
Today was one of the most beautiful snowy days I’ve seen in Boulder. My office on the east side of the city faces west towards the Flatirons, a strange and beautiful cropping of Rocky Mountain foothills that jut up and tilt towards their “fourteener” kin. Today, as I looked out after a cold ride to work and even colder walk from car to building, I smiled one of those memory-inspired smiles. It is as if the cold snap in the air and sparkling white atop pine and rooftop alike threw a part of me back to when I was young, tramping through the Michigan snow and feeling the quiet solitude that seeing beauty at that age brings.
And then, when I left work it was another recognition altogether. It was a feeling of duty, of hassle, of perseverance above all else, of just making it through the constant bite and threat of it, the cold. The cold. The halls of our house, whichever house it ever was, were always drafty with it – the winter chill that could keep me awake at night, the bitter insults that rattled the walls beneath to keep me awake at night, the regret for past and fear of future that kept me awake at night, the quiet solitude that never knowing what to expect at that age brings.
When I face the icy cold, a rare type of winter weather here in Boulder, so often I catch myself taking on a funny automatic stiffening of my spine, hunch of my shoulders, and set to my face. If I am not careful, every obstacle becomes another reason to resent the world, another force against which to tighten for fear of the blow, for fear of the layers of skin and heart and breath that may so easily be broken by the cold snap, deadened by the frost. So many things stiffen with the weight of the cold. The trees, the locks, my jaw.
I have heard that our sense of smell has the most power of all the senses to conjure memory, to unwind wounds, to bring calm or raise the flags of danger. But today, I am in awe of the power of weather to destroy, to nourish, to uplift, to oppress and to recall. It is a beautiful power even if the things which it conjures are not always so beautiful.