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One step followed another, mindful of keeping my feet angled to each other so as not to trip. With my helper holding my left elbow, with the cane on my right, we slowly circled the court, its melting resembling Antarctica’s fragile out-cropping of ice. Ahead of us, the sun’s caricature cavorted like acrobats performing in a two-penny circus: balance was critical to the performance.

Snow-covered lawns, both hilly and flat, bumped in places like snoozing polar bears. Puddled sidewalks mirrored scraggly limbs from above; ice-melt-stained pavement resembled a child’s smear of cookie dough; fragile embroidered-like ice crystals edged bleached grass, the split second before melting: such impressions suggest focusing upon the area around my feet rather than around me. Yet, the firm hold of my helper allowed these choice impressions imprinted upon my imagination.

Then, a pause and a snatch of air. Above, ivory-blue skies invited awe: its expanse cradled the houses beneath, exposing pieces of black and brown tiles and dripping gutters. All is as it supposed to be, this benign afternoon.

I can still walk.

It is cold—very cold—and it is still winter.

Somehow that matters little in my warm study when enveloped within Winter Dreams, the subtitle of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor (1866) played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Yuri Temirkanov. The first movement, fragile and effervescent, evokes inchoate scenes. Like hesitant sparrows, words surface—putting something out there that wasn’t there before: 

Moonlit snow-scapes—wind-startled frozen lakes—flocked mountain pines—brush-filled meadows—gust-sculpted cathedrals—critter-tracks meandering over hills—color-splashes angling down slopes and crisscrossing paths.

Beneath this frozen world, deep smiles thaw my imagination; trickles of water create wiggle-room for my breathing. Like the first morning of creation, Beauty still evokes such things through Tchaikovsky’s Winter Dreams.

Joy surfaces, again and again. We’ve only to receive it.

“It’s only winterbite,” my gardener friend assured me, handing me several mottled leaves from the Christmas Hollys we’d planted last spring in my side yard. Her windblown cheeks, her bulky sweatshirts and jeans, smudged from previous work, bespoke her authority tending gardens. She brightened and leaned over. “See these buds beneath other stressed leaves? Once the earth warms up, they’ll push them off and form new leaves.”

Like the Christmas Hollys, I, too, suffer from winterbite. So weary of wearing long underwear and multiple layers of heavy clothing, so bone-chilled by arctic winds, so leery of inaccurate weather forecasts, so sun-deprived, so tired of in-house walks.

Like everyone, I yearn for the warming sun to quicken my own budding with spring’s pastels: pinks, raspberry, peach, rose …



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