Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Life Below Zero

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Winterscapes by Hakan Strand Star Snow Covered Trees in Winter


Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver.”

“My country's not a country, it's Winter.”

(Gilles Vigneault)


Oof: five below. The Ninth Day of Yule, and our first sub-zero temperature of the Winter. It hasn't been this cold for ten months. Well, folks, this is it: Winter is well and truly here.

You never really get used to it, the Cold. After a while it seems to take on a life of its own, to become an entity in its own right: the Hag you cannot see, but only feel.

Ultimately, Cold becomes a way of life. The long underwear goes on and stays on. You leave extra time to get things done, because everything takes longer. (This morning it took me 15 minutes to chip the car out of its carapace of ice: this with the defrost and heat going full blast all the while, mind you. Winter Survival Tip #1: start the car and let it warm up before you begin clearing it.) Keep your face covered. Don't go out with a wet head. Moisturize or die. (Ah, life in the Winter desert.) A driveway is cleared one shovelful at a time.

During the Summer, you close up the house during the day, and open it again at night. Now it's just the opposite.

To open, or close up, though: actually, it's hard to decide. Should I open the blinds and the curtains to let the sunlight in—sunlight warms—or keep them closed against the cold? (When it's this cold, you learn to stay away from perimeters.) In terms of keeping warmth in and cold out, I'm guessing that it's probably a 50/50 proposition. Nonetheless, in the end I invariably cave and open to the light. It may not feel warm on the skin, but the beauty of the young sunlight never fails to lift my spirit. Psychological warmth is still warmth.

Let those in more fortunate climates cringe, and wonder why we stay. Up here in Cold Country, we grok Beltane in ways that most Southrons never, ever will.

Winter, White Hag, beautiful and terrible, we welcome you. Not that we have any choice.

Well folks, She's here. See you at Beltane.

Assuming we make it through.


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Tagged in: Lady of Winter winter
Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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