"A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that “great wits have short memories:” and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation." - Jonathan Swift, "A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet"

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I woke up a few weeks ago with holiday fever, characterized mainly by a strong desire to listen to Christmas music. But there are a million other little pleasures to the wintertime that I love.

The first clementines have appeared in the dining halls. The coffee shop has started selling peppermint crunch chocolate bars. Everything, from hot drinks to granola to cake, is suddenly flavored with pumpkin spice. Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, pears, cranberries, and pecans are all in abundance.

I suddenly seem not to own nearly enough sweaters or wool socks. Yesterday, I wore rain boots for the first time since I was a little kid. Wool hats - so comforting and comfortable - are an acceptable accessory. It's the perfect weather for nylon stockings and bulky sweaters, chilly legs and a warm belly. Every time I go outside, there's that enveloping cold, and when I come home, the glow of the heaters.

It's amazing how many things we've accumulated in order to combat the winter duldrums. Cheery songs, delicious goodies, indulgences, presents, not to mention the age-old traditions of bringing lights and greenery inside to keep the year alive. The other day, I stopped into the rose garden next to my dorm and picked some roses for my room - for the first time this year, I felt the need to have something alive and blooming in my room, even though roses seem slightly incongruous in the winter.

I find there's a kind of nostalgia that comes along with the holidays. There are memories going back however many years you've been alive, and traditions going back much farther. And I especially like classic holiday movies.

Aside from all that, the changing of the seasons itself makes me more aware of the weather and the foods available to me and generally reminds me of times when people actually had to change their life-styles according to the season. I really don't think it would be a bad thing if we slowed down as the weather got colder. Instead of rushing around taking exams and writing final papers and doing last-minute present-shopping, we could settle down, bake cookies, take long cold walks, knit sweaters, and read books aloud to each other, and then the holidays would be even nicer.

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