The Myth of Winter

By Blaze Diamond (El Prado, New Mexico)

In the dawn hours of December 15th, my partner and I filed out the stairwell door.  Trees had been blasted open and a grandmother elm uprooted along the acequia, pleated across the dirt road. The morning scissor air was spent bucking limbs and clearing a passage for community members to trek for water.  Power outages would roil for another day.  Here on the sagebrush steppe, tucked next to the sub-alpine foothills of the Sangre de Cristos, a tornado had touched down. Violence muted by the title, “snow squall,” but no less visceral in the gnawed of rooftops, collapsed structures, and now-boarded windows. 

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In winter, bees will amass in social globs, even switching positions from “time to time, so that each bee gets a chance in the cozy middle and its turn on the cold outside.” The fallacy that the individual is a separate entity, would harm the entire organism. And this is likely what our bees did, before the winds of climate chaos came, leaving the carnage of hive and comb.  

As we all lugged debris — moms, widows, afraid, able-bodied — we belonged to one another for a moment.  As Rebecca Solnit says, finding solidarity in disaster. We shed our egos of separatism and found a “we,” without a new normal to grasp towards.  All sharing in the will to live. 

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The mythos, or storyline, of winter has always been cooperation.  Choosing to belong to one another in a season of limits, when we have fewer runaway summers to anticipate because of swelling (un)natural disasters.  How can this be a wintering of no-growth and expectant waiting? Not for the phantom snow of a La Niña year, or the preferred inter-governmental action on the climate, or the strategizing of a privatized climate migrant plan. But a wintering to belong and break open?  A winter of interdependence. 

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Dillard, A. (1974). Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Harper Collins

Blaze Diamond serves as OC’s Rebuilding Local Food Systems Program Coordinator.

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