Tuesday, January 29, 2013

in the bleak midwinter

A couple of SB's childhood friends joined him in the woods.  The temperatures had been well below freezing for a while and the lake ice was thick enough that they had a bonfire.  Having been raised in SE Asia, I have no confidence in the structural properties of ice.  I probably would have dragged a boat behind me and sat in it, just in case.  Which is why SB wasn't exactly dying to invite me to join him.

I never used to associate bleakness with beauty.  Usually a lack of something is a negative attribute but SB's photos of exposed vegetation and sparse forests devoid of color are beautiful.  I don't usually like the cold but at some point in the Adirondacks it gets so frigid that you experience the sublime.  You breathe in compressed breaths and all moisture in the air immediately freezes so that everything around you glistens as though silver glitter is fluttering in the air.  At these temperatures you aren't so cold because you have specialized clothing.  You need specialized clothing.

A couple years ago we spent my birthday up in the woods (that's what happens when SB does the planning).  Each day I would don thermal underwear and merino wool socks before slipping into a ski bib.  Then I would add a fleece pullover, followed by a weatherproof jacket and a ridiculous hat with ear protection.  Finally, and most importantly, I would lace up my extreme temperature snow boots.  Never make the mistake of skimping on good boots because it's very uncomfortable to walk around with cold, numb feet.  My lovely ensemble made me look like Elmer Fudd with a ponytail but it wasn't as though there was anyone out there to see me.  And if anyone was out there, they would look the same.  Everything around you might be sublime but you will be abominable.

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