A Farewell Dance to Winter

March 15, 2010

Winter is giving way to spring in a week….I’m wistful to see it go… I love winter.

…Easy to say while I’m living in Hawaii granted, but  it’s cooler and rainier here. The annual humpback whale visit makes the winter season a treat . Growing up in Northern California, I have wonderful memories of wild storms…crazy rain, tumultuous ocean, rivers of water pouring out of hillsides, over roads, power outages and having dinner by candlelight, roaring fires while it all raged around the house. So invigorating and exciting! It felt wild, powerful, dangerous… way bigger than me…that and the incredible silence of freshly fallen snow. I’ve never heard anything quite so silent.

So I woke up this morning enthused about dancing an ode to winter. My imagination got fired up wondering how to translate the feeling of winter into a musical poem for this evening’s ecstatic dance. The complex combination of raw, wild, introspective and silent qualities presented an intriguing challenge. So rich!

I announce the intention for the dance via Facebook choosing a black and white image of a leafless tree on a snowy hill at night… a bit forlorn perhaps but beautiful in it’s starkness. Just for fun, I ask the dancers to share what they love about winter. Four hours later, still no comment. Eight hours… still nothing. I am confounded. What about cozy teas in bed,  huge surf, snuggling, the sound of rain pouring on the roof?

Great fun composing the playlist… finding music that evoked stormy weather, the wind, a pristine field of snow, crashing waves, the intimacy of being tucked in a warm bed with a great book. I’m delighted to explore this with everyone. Hmmm… seems like my theme frightened some away though… smaller crew than usual… probably everyone’s home being cozy!  So when we had an opening circle for the dance, I asked those present to offer  a word or two that they associated with winter. Most everyone looked scared…. “cold” was the predominant word. When it’s 65 degrees in Hawaii, everyone flips out and bundles up in sweaters and turtlenecks. “Ah, I get it,” I thought. “People live here because they hate the cold… duh!” Enjoyment of winter? Foreign concept. I was having a cultural moment.

I felt sorry for winter as if it were a person… it wasn’t popular. Everyone will be out in droves for the spring celebration next week. Poor winter, shunned. We need this time to turn inwards, reflect, be still… also a fairly unpopular activity. Running around like delirious bunnies…much greater appeal. Sex sells.

Maybe it’s my Russian blood… I love the drama and the moodiness of weather.  Some of my favorite TV is the weather channel. So the music tonight had lots of swirling wind, swells and  emotion. The dance floor was so alive! Everyone was flying around each other, truly like a gathering storm pulling all this energy in so as to unleash it’s power. We were the negative ions sparking off one another. .. a big love storm!

It felt important to honor the gifts of winter with our dance… the silence, the seeds resting in their potential, the raw wildness, the darkness. Winter is what gives depth to spring and the exuberant joy we will soon revel in. Thank you for the time to go inside, gather energy and dream of the tree I will one day become. Little seed, get ready to bust out!



  1. Thx for sharing. I was in New Zealand at that time and loving the fact that although their ‘summer’ I was so far south that we were wearing winter coats. Yes, I love the crispy, dry air of a winter day, even though I love Hawaii. Vacationing to cold places is best! Will think of this in next ‘in hotel’ dance session 🙂

  2. I don’t really know if “like” is the word that comes to mind when I think about winter, but I do have many many things I “appreciate” about it. The three main things that come to mind are a sense of connection with human history, a real sense of my own mortality, and actually being able to feel the earth on its orbit around the sun.

    Especially at night, especially living in the mountains, I am always reminded that this habitat really isn’t suited for the human body. In order to be able to live here, we have to have a constant source of heat and energy, food, and special clothing. In human historical terms, the “decision” to move into colder climes, or the survival of the human species IN places where temperature changes occurred, was really extraordinary. Whether that continuing decision has been based on need, culture, or choice, it really makes me think about what this meant to our evolution, to my ancestors, and to what I look like today and what my life is like.

    And then, there is the simple fact that, take away all of the technology and tools that make it possible to live here and I’m not going to survive very long. The elements will kill me, and this is a present reality every day. At least once a winter, there is always a story or situation in which I see it happen to others – the electricity goes out, they get lost in the woods, or their car breaks down and they are stuck outside all night – and it ends tragically. Every time this happens I think about the reality of living here, and also just the reality of life itself – we’re always one heartbeat away.

    I love feeling more connected to the planet too. When I’m living in a place where daylight time is constantly shifting, the whole idea of being on a rock that is moving in space isn’t just academic – I’m experiencing it directly. For me it’s like looking up at the Milky Way at night and not just seeing something with a name and an idea or facts associated with it – it’s seeing the universe and feeling it more than just intellectually.

    Ok, so after writing all that, I realize I DO like winter! It’s just not as readily apparent as how I almost automatically feel about spring and summer.

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