Week 50. Cold

There are so many ways to say I love you when it is cold. Cold is good for love. A hug not only symbolic, but the warmth of another. A need to fill.

Hot water bottles, lavender oil in a bath, bonfires on frozen lakes, reindeer sausage cut with a pocket knife while standing in the snow, peanut butter eaten crouched behind a beaver dam before skiing an open stretch of lake. The way skin burns when you go inside.

All I want is to belong, to be a part of something bigger than myself. Researching the mysteries of Earth I was part of a global community of academics, but no matter how much I learned I was only orbiting nature. Doing science, out in the field, collecting samples of earth or plants, for a month or day or hour. The cold penetrates like nothing else, into the skin and bones. I became a part of it all. Ice on eye lashes, eating to stay warm. Alive like never before.

We used to open lakes, auger holes from which to sample. Eyes looking back up at us with the dark depths of liquid water.

Reference: Video of sample being taken from Yellow Knife Lake in Canada: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNCP88g3T0U

In cold air, sight broaches impossibility. As light enters the lower atmosphere, rays bend. Illusion is partly bend and cold, but also our own stubbornness in expecting only to see light as a straight line. Our hewing to the way the world supposedly behaves permits us to trick ourselves over and over, to walk into mysterious, imaginary worlds.

A violence experienced by someone I love. A year later, I still feel it though I wasn’t there. I’ll never know what truly happened. When the brain meets an unreliable narrative, it searches each shifting facet of the story as if it will find a clue as to where it belongs, how it fits in a day, a life. It forces you to build a world in which it can move, and in return for its realm, it bothers you less.

The most extreme cold air mirages: Fata Morgana, Novaya Zemlya, the Hillingar. Land placed atop itself in towers, jumbled at the horizon. Mapmakers drew the landscapes, mountains, outcroppings they saw on a cold, clear day, later finding that they never existed. What was impossible to see became visible in the winter air for those who understood the power of being fooled.

Medium: watercolor, India ink


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