Still arching toward Christmas, the winter glows with warmth and radiant whiteness (as seen from my heated vantage point). The snow remains pure and the decorations fresh and clean. We're still weeks away from the post-Xmas-and-New-Year's hangover. After the expectation of the holidays has been fulfilled, we start down the far side of winter, the descent into mind-numbing cold, dirty snow and the stubborn death-grip of King Boreas that refuses to yield to Spring. He is a receding glacier whose fingers grudgingly give way to life, slowly shrinking until they end in skeletal points.
But winter won't make that turn for four weeks. It hasn't yet worn out its welcome. After New Year's though, winter loses its raison d'etre. Once the gifts have been exchanged and the New Year toasted, the season suffers a severe loss of focus and meaning. It devolves into a cruel cosmic endurance test, punishment handed down by the gods in their haughty caprice. Although, to be honest, my love of winter barely registers the change. I enjoy the frozen wastes of the early year, free of social obligations and fellow pedestrians. Solitude is abundant even in the heart of the city. The outdoors become the exclusive domain of the hearty and determined.