Last night was the last and final Massey Lecture (Happy 50th) at Koerner Hall. So much wood in there, I was in heaven.
The lecturer was Adam Gopnik (author of the lovely Paris to the Moon) and his topic: Winter.
Having spent much of last year’s lecture confused (Doug Copeland, What’s to Become of Us?), I decided to read the book in advance so I could follow the cross-referencing that inevitably happens when you’re only hearing the final of a 5-part series.
Though I can’t say that I loved the book, I did find myself internalizing its musings on my least favourite season quite a bit. There is something nostalgic and a bit sad about winter, and he did a brilliant job of capturing the nuances of that for me. But his essays touched on more than that; how winter punctuates our lives, molds our cities (underground paths and shopping) and determines our identity. I remember my friend Angelique, saying that she started to find sunny days depressing living in Los Angeles. It felt weird for her as a Canadian girl, conditioned to treasure such weather. I think it was just because she missed winter and its inherent license to brood. Gopnik would understand this.
I really liked Charles Wilkins’ review of Winter, in the Globe earlier this month and had to chuckle at this sentence:
This year, happily, just as we begin girding for the noirceur, along comes Adam Gopnik, our Massey guide, under a crown of lights, ashiver with insights and good will..
I myself have been girding for the noirceur while those around me gird for the complaining about slush, cold and barren landscape.
In the end, definitely worth reading and/or listening to on Radio One next month.
As for me, after all this time spent reading and thinking about winter I’m left back where I started: Wondering if I will ever find a coat that is both warm and stylish. And how a man as small as Adam Gopnik wound up with such large feet.