There’s the “postcard” kind of cold that makes you want to hunker under a blanket with a cup of coffee and watch it snow. There’s the “toughen up” kind of cold that bores into your forehead like an ice-cream headache. And then there’s the “shrill” cold that whips around corners, tears at your face, and pulls a string of highly colorful vocabulary from your lips before you even realize that you’re speaking.  

I’m learning about cold—it’s brittle, diamond-like texture, and it’s clear, clean character. It’s three weeks into my move to Wisconsin and I’ve been outside every day. A Wisconsinite told me that the best way to acclimate to the weather was to be in it, so that’s what I’ve done. Every day. Several miles a day. Bundled up like Nanook of the North, trudging through snow and ice and frost. I do this because cold is like a bully, and bullies need to be faced head-on. I refuse to cower in my house. Cold is what you expect them you move to Wisconsin in January. The  surprise is that I like it.

There are things I don’t like: salt on everything (thank goodness for my Swiffer), hat hair, and the turn, on a hill, leading into our underground garage—a driveway so treacherous that despite not having put a scratch on the car, I keep having visions of crashing through the garage door in an uncontrolled skid…

But I like the cold. I like the way it creates instant community and common ground in public places. I like how it feels to wake up to a day so clear and frigid that everything is diamond-hard and brilliant. I like how the river steams when the temperatures get into the single digits as it flows through banks of pristine white—a monochrome, architectural world. I like sleeping on cold nights, snuggled under quilts, while the weather presses against the windows.  The Danes call this sort of cosy thing hygge. I call it winter in Wisconsin.   

The outside world: snow, sunshine, an adrenaline rush of exercise in cold air. The inside world: sun warming hardwood floors, a view of the river, hot tea, soft quilts, and music. I’m working on Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Chester Biscardi’s Companion Piece.  But on this particularly cold day (it was -12* this morning), I warmed my home with Still—a piece of music as loving and generous as my friend Dana Libonati who composed it.  Here it is—an impromptu “performance” on my out-of-tune piano and filmed on my phone—a little slice of Wisconsin Hygge on a frigid day.  


Unknown said…
Beautiful! The music, the writing, all! Thanks for the link!
Olek said…
I like your improvisation.

I suggest find the best tuner possible, (ask them if they "build" the tone, for instane and if they learned to tune by ear ) your piano will sound 20 years younger ;)

it need about 1 - 2 days work to me (stable tuning and voicing, get regulation to good level, cleaning strings and soundboard, etc)
That large and not expensive model is seen in museums and piano workshops. That is the best process, no white dust no resistance.

Best wishes
Isaac OLEG