When I was young, I loved winter. It might have been the beauty of the world cloaked in the pure innocence of virgin snow, the way the crispness of the cold reddening my uncovered face invigorated me, the surreal way I could see my breath like the dialogue balloons of comic strip characters coming to life or that I had the brains of drying cement.
I hate winter now. It is easily my least favorite time of the year, speeding passed the trudging mud holes of early spring that used to hold that honor. Now winter is like C.S. Lewis’ Jadis, The White Witch: breathtakingly beautiful and seemingly pure, but deep down an arrogant, cold-hearted and cruel termagant (I had to use that word because my wife didn’t want me to use bitch).
When I was young I loved blizzards, and I wasn’t one of those wimpy souls who cowered in front of a window with a cup of hot chocolate and texted everyone about how hard the snow was coming down outside. No indeed. I was out in the blizzards ice fishing or walking around in the woods. I drove in snowstorms. I wasn’t afraid of snow. I had courage, knowledge of how to survive in the woods and that brains of drying cement thing. I never worried about something happening to me, and if it did then it did. Life’s a termagant.
A couple things turned me against winter. First, and most people don’t know this, winter is cold! The cold never used to bother me. I’ve fallen through the ice and waddled a half-mile to my truck through knee-deep snow with a soaking wet crotch in subzero weather (sadly the two incidents are not related). I’ve ice fished in snowstorms and sat for hours in trees with the temperature near zero, and it never bothered me. As I’ve grown older, the cold and I are no longer friends. I get chilled easily. A bone-shaking shiver will go through me that leaves me bent-over and humbled, and that’s just from opening the refrigerator door. Second, I spent a career in small county, rural law enforcement where I didn’t have a choice whether or not to go out into the weather to assist someone. And there was always someone who needed assisted. Usually it was someone out in a blizzard, ice fishing, driving or walking around in a snowstorm with the brains of drying cement.
My new novel, A DEATH IN A SNOWSTORM due out sometime next spring, takes place in the winter—I thought I’d mention that because it’s hard to figure out from the title. The two main characters, a man and a woman, are polar—pardon the pun—opposites when it comes to winter. The man, a detective, is a bona fide city slicker whose idea of enjoying the outdoors is standing in front of a window with a cup of hot chocolate watching it snow. The woman is a petite young DNR officer who grew up in the outdoors and thinks nothing of spending the night out in a blizzard. Both of them are part of me, although I’ve never been a detective or a petite young woman, but one is the old me who loved winter, and the other is the new me that hates winter. Together they of course solve the mystery. I’ll let you know more as the book’s release date draws closer, but right now it’s snowing, and I need to go make a cup of hot chocolate.