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Earned Gifts of a Boston Winter

Earned Gifts of a Boston Winter
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“You have to be sort of bipolar to live in New England,” Churchill says. “Manic and running around in the summer, and in the winter inward and reflective.” After all, he says, “Who wants to go out on days like that, in sleet and cold? People stay inside.”

Except for him. He roams the empty-seeming city, cameras and equipment wrapped in Ziploc bags, in search of scenes that aren’t postcard cliches. “I photograph everything in a very nomadic sort of way,” Churchill says. “I spend hours trudging through the cold and finding things that feel like that day or time of day.”

And then, finally, the white flakes fall. “How many days like that do you get where the snow is beautiful?” Churchill reflects. “There’s something about the city when there’s new snow on it that makes you feel the weight of all the history even more. Things look timeless in the snow. Because you know that since the beginning of the world, there’s been snow. It draws you back. There’s something really humbling about remembering we’re at the whim of nature.”

As if in solidarity against the elements, Bostonians seem friendlier than usual in winter; they sometimes even talk to strangers. The town is theirs again. Tourists don’t come, or, at least, not nearly as many of them as in spring, summer, or fall.

The buskers flee into the subway stations, where at least occasional rushes of warm, stale air precede approaching trains. Ice, not cheering fans, fills the seats in Fenway Park, although the faithful still come through for tours. They gaze down at the snowy field, imagining it green, surrounded by the noise of the crowd and populated by the boys of summer.

It reminds them to complain again about the winter.

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One Response to Earned Gifts of a Boston Winter

  1. Susan Cole Kelly January 6, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    Sunlessness? Empty-seeming? Really? Jon, you’ve always been one of my favorite writers, and I’m thrilled to see your byline back on the pages of Yankee. I just love the richly visual descriptions you’ve conjured here. And I’m also thrilled that you’re finding holes in the English language and coining words to fill them! Beautifully written!

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