The thing about winter is that it is not fully ours. As intimate as I might want to be with it, I am always outside it, lumbering along in a stupid number of layers, souped up like an astronaut ready for a spacewalk. If I pause too long, I pay for it, the furthest bits of my body starting to sting with cold, my skin cracking to the quick in the dry frostbite air as I try to capture some glint of magic.

It’s finite, out here. By the time I walked across Bde Maka Ska, my feet were cold, and I was starting to lose fine motor skills in my hands. By the time I met up with a friend another mile or two later, my feet were happier but texting had become a two-handed affair.

But in exchange for these indignities, winter offers breathtaking and alien landscapes: the moon, so bright and low that it interrupts a conversation when it peeks from behind branches; the sunset, like summer’s slowed down and muted into an art film.

The novelty is a bit disorienting: where yesterday there were rainbows, today the same sun fell flat; where I hurried back to see crystals growing from the channel, today I found only a uniform dusting of dry snow. If not for the photos, I’d think my mood was hyperbolic. But the world I landed in today had its own secrets and patterns: the ice continuing to shift with fissures and faces that weren’t there yesterday; windswept laketops; ice bursts like radial transit systems; frozen remnants of a world I once knew fluently, still and silent beneath my feet.

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