Old Man Winter – Christmas 2010

‘Twas the night, yes, before Christmas, and I invited Old Man Winter into my home.  He gratefully accepted a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows, took off his wool gloves, and sat by the fireplace.

Though old, as his name implied, he was strong and alert.  He talked about this year’s Harvest Feast.  He likes pumpkin soup.  I do not.  We talked about snowstorms in December.  He laughed and said that, in June and July, he often visits Chile and Australia and New Zealand.

“I don’t bring the cold,” he confided.  “I merely witness it.”

We talked about hockey and snow angels, icicles, sleighs, and the moral implications of using coal as eyes.  He claimed to have climbed Kilimanjaro, twice, to touch the equatorial glaciers.  He told me about the winter carnivals that no longer circled the globe, their trapeze artists flying through the air, the polar bears, the juggling clowns in blue and silver suits.

After finishing his hot chocolate he pulled his gloves back on, threw on his long winter coat, and said, “There’s much to do tonight.  Much to witness.”

I watched from my apartment window as he walked down the street, but I’m not so sure I actually saw what I saw.  He reached the last building on the road, looked around once, then bounded up the side, window ledge to window ledge, utilizing crevices I couldn’t see in the bricks.  On the rooftop, he cast out a net and captured the bitingly cold wind, all of the wind, until the air was still.  He folded the net down, folding again and again until it was small enough to fit into his pocket, then looked back at me and winked.

Old Man Winter said, and I’m quite sure I heard him as though he stood beside me whispering, “Hope the holiday season warms your heart, my friend.”

And then he was gone.

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