Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Being a Flake: The December Child

by Zinta Aistars

Winter, oil painting by Viestarts Aistars
I wouldn't mind. Being a flake. A perfect crystal, floating soft and easy through space, slow and swirling, this way and that, finally landing to become a blanket of cool white. Not a bad life, however short.

There are those who argue winter is always too long. For me, watching that first snow come down, never long enough. It is my favorite season. All things purified. All things clean and bright. All mistakes covered with a soft blanket, a clean slate on which to begin all over again.

The earth rests, curls in for a long sleep, and the sky opens up to toss out this white bounty. The cold that goes with it refreshes me. I love everything about winter, even the snow shoveling, even the chill, even the challenge of my daily commute to work ... well, if not love, then I am, hmmm, challenged by it, and up for it. Grip the wheel and brave the road that has otherwise become a bore.

I love the flannel sheets on my bed. Curling up with my old chow pup to warm me, more often than not, now lifting him up onto the bed because of his arthritic joints. He snores like an old man. I curl around him and hug him, his soft red fur tickling my nose.

I love the steam of my coffee in the morning. The circle that clears on the kitchen window glass when I breathe on it to see the thermometer outside, single digits, or less.

Big Bay, UP, Michigan
I love the shiver of the cold on my skin as I dress. Every cell in me is at attention. Every hair snaps. My woolen socks feel warm and comforting. My thick textured sweater is a wearable hug.

I love the crunch and squeak of fresh snow beneath my boots. I love the prints I make, new earth, new trails blazed, new signature created, and the white field ahead mine to conquer.

Every winter I remember my father, and me, in flannel pajamas by the living room window, curtains pulled to one side, watching him out in the snow. It is my fourth birthday, the first one I remember, and I am holding up four fingers, holding them high, and he is out there, in the field of white, building a snowman for me. A birthday snowman. Not just any. My father is an artist, and he can't just roll up snow balls and plop them one atop another. He sculpts, and he carves, pushing a mittened thumb into the white for an eye socket. drawing the edge of a hand to leave a wide smile, pinching the edges of floppy ears to hear the whispers of a winter hush. It is a snowman just for me. And my father is young, and tall, and handsome, and thin, and he waves at me in the window. He is hatless and his coat flaps around him like a cape. Inside the warm room with an unruly temperature, but not feeling at all sick, not remembering to be sick, I am gleaming with joy as that snowy creation comes to life before me. Just for me. How I wish I could save him. Forever.

I love the long, dark evening, the stillness, the quiet. The fireplace a soothing crackle and the pendant light over my favorite reading spot a circle of golden glow falling across my page. An afghan puddled around me, slippers tossed under the coffee table, settled in for a long read and entry into another world. A book is always read best in winter.

I love the wisps of delicious smells rising from my soup bowl. Hot brews and stews, swirls of cream, cinnamon sticks, dollops. I love warm bread in the winter, butter melting. I love the ceramic mug in my hands; my cup won't run over.

I love the silence. The deep, forever silence. The stillness of winter. Standing in it, one figure, under a sparkle of icy stars, the moon blanched white with its blue shadows of eyes, speechless. The hush. The deep hush of winter, sinking into it, frozen into it, a crystal waiting to tink against the night, a single note, waiting, waiting, listening.

The winter is a secret. A stilled blessing, waiting for just the right moment.

A December child, I am at home in the winter. When all creatures migrate south, I long to move north. I long for the scent of fresh pine. I fall into untouched snow when no one is watching and move my arms like wings to become a snow angel. I raise my face to the heavy sky and wait for the cold kiss. The flake that will land on my lips and make me feel alive.


  1. Winter is a time to write and draw. I am happy it is finally here. Enjoy!

  2. Beautiful. Your writing strikes a chord. The images come alive and I can almost feel the cold touch of a flake.