Polar Pages

“There was, said Claudio Abbado, a certain sound to snow.  It did not come from walking on it.  If you stood on a balcony, too, you could hear it.  A falling snow, fading away to nothing, pianissimo, like a breath.  You could hear it only if you listened to what some supposed was silence.” (Claudio Abbado’s obituary in The Economist).



This winter has brought us more snow and cold than usual here in the Northeast of the U.S.  Certainly not as much as my neighbors up North.  And I’ll take snowstorms and frigid temperatures over the constant rain my friends and family experienced in some parts of Europe.

Because other than the odd day of snow, the days are filled with sunshine.

And these calm, cold days invite us to examine each detail of each branch with the curiosity of a child.

My crabapple tree:



My rhododendron in its icy casing:



This harsh winter has also affected my reading choices.  Rather than escape to warmer climates, I have been drawn to books about Antarctica.

Ernest Shackleton’s South. Gavin Francis’ Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence and Emperor Penguins. Dr. Jerri’s Nielsen’s Ice Bound: A Doctor’s Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole.



Reading about people colder than I am puts my situation in perspective (at least I’m not stuck in the Antarctic ice with Shackleton, I tell myself).

It also feeds my imagination as I walk my dog in minus zero wind chill temperatures (just a little farther and we’ll make it to the South Pole, I murmur, wind howling against my face as I pretend to be on a polar expedition with my 14 year old Border Terrier).


She’s mastered the art of walking on ice quite well. ©readinginterrupted.com

Most of all, I love being reminded of the beauty of snow and ice and winter.

“Wordsworth said that stone held acquaintance with the stars. Thinking of the simplicity of the world around me, the quantum sliding into the stellar, I could think the same of ice. There was a quality to its brittle purity, its cold strength, that was echoed in the stars above. And in a world of ice starlight is often all the light you need.” (Gavin Francis, Empire Antarctica  Ice, Silence and Penguins)

That’s not to say that I’m not looking forward to Spring’s arrival and a new reading theme.

And despite the arrival of another snowstorm tomorrow evening, my witch-hazel is in bloom signaling that one day, perhaps only a few snowstorms away, Spring will be here.