a mind of winter

I’ve been to Newcastle and back today. I rose at 5, and walked to the station through yet another blizzard. Abandoned Christmas trees whirled around the empty Edinburgh streets like wintery tumbleweeds. On the train, the sun rose revealing masses of falling snow, white and grey across the border. At Newcastle, the station platform was knee-deep. The city was virtually empty of traffic and very still. Lone pedestrians wobbled around the streets like confused zombie skittles. My walk to work was much slower than usual — at times it was strangely like walking through sand — but it was accompanied by a curious silence which I rather enjoyed. I left early, was lucky on the return journey, and caught a train that had been hideously delayed further south. Out of the windows I saw kids sledging; snow covered allotments; brown jacob sheep stark against a white horizon. The snowy fields flickered from blue to gold in the last of the sunlight. Back in Edinburgh, some of the snow had turned to a sort of grey powder, and some to a sort of black mush, but for the last mile and a half of my familiar path home it was still white and deep and crunchy. The day ended as it had begun — walking through the snow’s tremendous quiet. Amidst the trudging, and the two long train journeys, and the assumed hassle, and everyone else’s manifest irritation with the weather, its been an oddly serene sort of day. I kept thinking of Wallace Stevens’ mind of winter. Perhaps, like his watcher/ listener, I’ve been cold a long time.

The Snow Man
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.