Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21: Winter is coming

My husband and I are reading George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" fantasy series, of which there are now five books of an anticipated seven (or more). The first book is "A Game of Thrones," which is the title of a recently launched HBO series that we've enjoyed almost as much as the books. The central protagonist in "A Game of Thrones" is Eddard Stark, the fair-minded, strong Lord of the North in his castle Winterfell.

In the world Martin has created, the seasons follow an unpredictable pattern, with summer often lasting for years until suddenly all is plunged for an indeterminate time into deep winter. In Eddard's Northern lands, as in New England, the climate is naturally colder than the South, and wild creatures stalk dark forests. One detail I appreciate is that Winterfell would be a freezing pile of rocks if it weren't for the fact that it's heated by geothermal energy and surrounded by hot springs. As long as one can take a regular hot bath, things can't be that bad.

Each of the aristocratic families in this society has both a sigil and a motto by which they are identified and characterized. The Stark family sigil is the dire wolf, a creature which ends up playing a key role in the lives of Eddard's children. The family motto is "Winter is coming," a rather somber reminder that no matter how good things seem, the reckoning of winter could always be right around the corner. That phrase came to mind today when I stepped outside and felt instantly chilled to the bone. I'm not ready for winter yet, Eddard Stark. But ready or not, winter is coming.

Winter is coming.
Chickadees cache seeds. They know.
And leaves, they shiver.

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