One of the many lovely things about winter that I remember from childhood was the not just completing an actual igloo in the backyard using my special plastic igloo brick maker, but the ritual of being outside for hours and then coming in, your cheeks on fire from the wind, your toes numb, your scarf damp, icy, and practically crusted to your chin with frozen spit.
Then you would shed your layers like an odd caterpillar emerging from it's wooly cocoon and put on new socks and fuzzy slippers and curl up in front of the boob tube, a hot cup of cocoa waiting for you.
Buddhists say that the sensation of pleasure is really only the absence of suffering. Buddhists are right; but pleasure is even better when you get some marshmallows and cookies along with that cocoa.
And here is some music to listen to as you think about the Buddhists out in the snow, shoveling the sidewalks, making snow angels, and scouting for the best hill to try out their new toboggan. White Winter Hymnal by the Fleet Foxes has this wonderful sound that does remind me of those days out playing in the snow, the round of voices reminding me exactly of the way the north wind whirls through the tree branches. The clay-mation video is quite cool as well.
The other song, Lump Sum, is by Bon Iver, a.k.a. Justin Vernon. Bon Iver is a play on the French words Bon Hiver, which translates to a "good winter". Mr. Vernon wrote all these songs while sequestered in a wooded Wisconsin cabin last winter. His album, For Emma, Forever Ago, is the result of that hibernation. I was stunned when I heard it; it was like nothing I'd ever heard before, completely foreign, yet utterly familiar, especially if you ever been alone in the woods for any length of time. It sounds like the north woods of Wisconsin; I don't think it would have sounded that way had it been produced anywhere else, the sense of place is saturated in every song.
This is a live recording done at the Current radio station in Minneapolis.
So all you out there, have a good winter. Although it doesn't start till Sunday...