Sunday, December 20, 2009

In the Silvery Polar Night

Last night found me walking three quarters of a mile uphill through the snow at 3am. After a full and merry night at a friend's holiday holiday party in the south slope, back to the north slope we had to go. No cabs were running; we didn't trust clumsy buses on the slippery roads, so there we were. My new waterproof boots holding up their end of the job, I felt invincible and alive and keenly aware of my breathing and pounding heart that propelled me forward for much-needed exercise. I couldn't help but keep walking and walking, looking back every so often at my partner lagging nearly a block behind.

In the unusual stillness of the night, I wasn't in New York City as I know it, where I have never seen such a thick layer of fresh clean snow, but rather in the magical New York City depicted in Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale.

People were thrilled by the sudden onset of so great and (they thought) so unprecedented a winter. Even those who feared and hated cold weather and snow were quickly seduced by the silvery polar nights, and joined in a medieval pageant of sledding, gatherings about the fire, and evenings under the stars. It was as if the occasional joyful paralysis that winter sometimes lays at the foot of Christmas had come for good. Layers of clothing made the flesh more mysterious and enticing than it had been in many a year, a certain courtliness was restored, and the struggle against the elements reduced everyone in scale just enough for people to realize that one of the fundamental qualities of humanity was and would always be its delicacy. The entranced citizens did not go to so many places or work as hard as they usually did, but they lived far better than they had ever lived.
- Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin, page 600**

And today I never left the apartment, but stayed inside all day to bake Christmas cookies. In fuzzy socks and a fleece bathrobe because I don't think the heat turned on once today (wtf). I hope you all enjoyed our snowy weekend.

** It is an EPIC tale of love, morality, fantasy, and New York City from one turn of the century to the next. I still don't really understand everything that happened, but it features truly beautiful prose.

via themikebot flickr stream


  1. yep, looks like that here in Halifax- but then we usually get New York and USA's weather on the east coast a few days later :)
    Right now you could just add blowing snow to that picture and it would be Halifax!

    sigh- love snow.

  2. Wow, snow looks really beautiful, doesn't it? Not so practical, sure, but gorgeous nonetheless.

  3. Ooh, so pretty. Sorry to be missing this one!

  4. I love how magical the snow makes everything feel, and your post about snow in NYC, also magical.

    Thanks for the post on my (embryo of a) blog - the encouragement I needed to come back to it.

  5. I love this post. that's exactly what ny is like on a quiet, snowy night, with the light hitting the streets. awesome.
    thanks for the meal planning advice on my blog today, btw!

  6. just stumbled on to your blog. what a pretty picture of the snow (something i miss terribly!). and i love that excerpt from that book...i must find that book and read it!

  7. oh wow, beautiful photo. I have memories of climbing home in the snow in Park Slope, getting shit all over by a snow truck, it was awesome.

  8. I'm feeling you. Saturday night my husband and I had a group of friends over to go sledding. We ended up standing outside in the dark, huddled in a circle for the longest time. It just felt wrong to go inside and ignore the beauty.

  9. Have a good holiday Julia!!! stay warm...

  10. snow when it first falls is so incredibly beautiful and amazing. Sadly we were in Mexico when this all occurred so we came back to brown plowed snow! So glad you got to enjoy it!