Any snowfall which brings traffic to a standstill
and closes schools takes me back to one particular storm in my youth on the shores of Lake Area.
On that day, schools and stores were closed because of the weather.
What resonates for me is a six-block walk I took with my father from our house to the post office.
He bought me stamps for my recently started stamp collection.
I already had a wild assortment of cancelled stamps from around the world.
He brought me brand-new stamps.
I can retrace the route in my mind, walking on snow-covered sidewalks and streets.
It was unusual to be going for a walk with my father on a weekday and so close to home.
In the following years, I never talked about that walk with him,
I never even thought about it until it appeared to me about a decade ago.
A winter memory now returned to the forefront.
The elderly are said to be in the winter of their lives,
and winter is synonymous with the end of life.
That does not make the winter the Grim Reaper; rather,
it is a time of reflection in those for whom childhood is long gone.
My father died in the summer of 1997.
For me, his final months resembled the patterns of settling in for winter,
a turning inward and slowing down.
In the end, his breath grew shallower until there was just the quiet.
There are emotional powers that accompany the season,
a blanket of white ties the landscape into a continuous and undulating hall.
The curve of hillsides in the foundations of houses all is connected.
The season keeps us indoors.
Our thoughts and feelings turn inward.
I'm visiting Southern California as I write this,
a place where winter expresses itself as rain.
It would be easy to live in a climate where there are no freezing temperatures snow,
but I would still define the shape of the year by winter
as I knew it from my childhood.