5 Musings on The Meaning of Winter

Columnists get passionate about everything from ice skating to seasonal depression

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In a marked departure from pre-health care passage offerings, The New York Times opinion page's dominating theme today, if there is one, appears to be the weather; while Verlyn Klinkenborg verges on blank verse on the subject of skating, the editorial board exhorts President Obama to free up funds for energy bill assistance as temperatures drop. But The New York Times isn't the only publication with winter-themed editorial offerings. Here are, all told, five musings on the joys and challenges of the winter months:

  • In Praise of the Lone Skater  "He skates away from his shoes, stick in hand, puck before him on the ice," writes Verlyn Klinkenborg in The New York Times, describing the joys of watching a lone skater in the dimming winter afternoon. "He skates just bent enough to clap the blade on the ice, urging the puck forward and yet boxing it in. The whole pond is his. He is holding himself in, making the ice last, measuring his possession of it by the slowness and grace of his movements." Klinkenborg, shod with shoes instead of skates, writes of feeling "stiff-gaited and woefully destination-bound."
  • In Praise of Empty Museums  Wonkette's Arielle Fleisher agrees: "Nothing says 'winter fun' like falling on your ass while ice skating." She recommends the open-air rink to DC residents stuck in the empty city for the holidays. Also, she adds, "the best thing about the fact that everyone leaves DC is that you can a table at super crowded restaurants like ChurchKey and Pizzeria Paradiso. That, and, the Smithsonians probably won’t be too crowded."
  • In Praise of Clean Sidewalks  Across the pond, the Guardian's Tim Bryan finds a reason to be thankful for the unusual surplus of snow in his country: "This weather has forced the recession off my mind, which can't be bad. Even better, as one colleague noted, there's no dog poo on the pavements any more. I'm sure there are a few more positives out there," he  continues, asking for reader suggestions.
  • In Praise of Seasonal Affect Disorder  "Especially in the winter, when night falls early and the sun glimmers weakly," writes Pythia Peay at The Huffington Post, "happiness can plummet into depression and loneliness." While psychologists have an official name for this phenomenon, Peay "wonder[s] if, in our modern-day separation from the rhythms of nature, we've also become disconnected from the naturally occurring emotional cycles of hope, joy, sadness, and melancholy." Specifically, she declares that "as a writer, [she finds she] work[s] best during the winter months." Calling winter "the season of creativity" she quotes fellow writer Donald Hall talking about "'darkness lovers. We tuck ourselves up in the long sleep and comfort of cold's opposite ... lighting ourselves by darkness's idea.'" Pythia goes so far as to say that "the darker emotions of despair and even depression offer a different kind of illumination."
  • Wishing for Affordable Heat  Winter isn't all creativity and excrement-free sidewalks, the New York Times editors remind us. "In yet another measure of the economy’s troubles," they report, "a record number of households--8.3 million--received federal aid to help pay their energy bills in 2009, up from a record 6.1 million in 2008. Based on early applications for 2010, more than 10 million families are likely to need help to keep the heat on this winter." They urge president Obama to free up the "nearly $600 million ... in a contingency fund" within the "$5.1 billion set aside fro heating assistance." Families, they argue, should not have to face "brutal choices" like that between ""food, medicine or heat."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.