Editor's Letter: Appreciating Winter's Natural Beauty

I am one of those people whose thermostat tends to run cold, so naturally I don’t take well to winter. When the mercury drops, my thoughts go negative: the hassle of long underwear, hats, scarves, and gloves; the nuisance of shoveling the walk and scraping the car; the treacherous roads and terrible traffic.

At the first white flake, I start to resemble one of the spoiled idiots that comic Louis CK famously skewered in a riff about air travel. Instead of appreciating the miracle that is human flight, CK’s seatmate complained about the broken wi-fi. “Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going—‘Oh my God! Wow!’—You’re flying! You’re sitting in a chair, in the sky!” CK exclaims. “New York to California in five hours: That used to take 30 years…and a bunch of you would die on the way there and have a baby. You’d be with a whole different group of people by the time you got there.”

I’ve found myself seeing the world more like CK—frequently awestruck, marveling at it all—since I became a first-time parent a few months ago. Before experiencing childbirth, I congratulated new parents with casually enthusiastic sentiments that now seem more appropriate to news of a promotion or good concert seats. The next new mother I will greet had better brace herself: “Oh my God! Wow!” I will shout. “A cluster of cells too small for the eye to see turned into a heart and lungs and eyelashes and toes! A tiny person grew inside another person. Is there anything more incredible?” 

I’ve also applied this new perspective to the wonder that is Minnesota winter: Snow and ice are no longer just something to insulate yourself from, to defeat. Under the right conditions, nature is capable of creating some strikingly beautiful phenomena. From delicate, ethereal hoarfrost to the soft luminescence of the sun dogs, I look forward to introducing my son to the season’s visual poetry.

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