As a proud, unabashed lover of cold weather it was with great delight, the kind I reserve for the first snowfall of winter and the first Hockey Night In Canada broadcast of a new NHL season, to hear that writer Adam Gopnik would be doing a kind of ‘sampler disc’ of his 5 part CBC Massey Lectures on Winter.
The lectures travel through different facets of winter entitled Romantic, Radical, Recuperative, and Recreational. In the last segment of the lectures and of his talk, “Remembering Winter”, Mr. Gopnik reflects on the idea of losing winter and the effects of that loss, both in the metaphorical sense through a disconnect with what struggling through winter used to mean before our modern-day conveniences made ignoring winter possible and in the literal sense with the realisation of our effect on the planet through climate change.
For those of us who have had to reluctantly or otherwise embrace winter for most of our lives, whether it arrives with the crawl of a mudslide or like the snap of a broken tree branch, Mr. Gopnik’s reflections have a way of thawing from our memories the moments we cherish about winter that we dust off and re-examine every year as we once again pull out our winter coats, checking the pockets and stitching for any loose threads. There is, invariably, always something we had forgotten about last winter with the passage of languid summer and those memories warm and protect us like the sweater we haven’t worn since the last time the trees had no leaves.
Even when, as Mr. Gopnik put it in his book, he risked “getting lost in philosophical snowdrifts from which my frozen body will someday be recovered”, he was still a joy to listen to and, never having heard him speak since first reading him ten years ago, I was glad to have met one of the people who’s work gave me the courage to write.
As we left, one of only three snowfalls of the year. How appropriate…