I woke up to a blizzard on Sunday. Staring from my window, I watched snowflake after snowflake settle onto a blanket across Madison. A sense of calm and (ironically) warmth held me. Nothing could be wrong in this moment. Or so I thought.
I was born in December (technically Fall, mind you) so I know a thing or two about the cold—Christmas, scarves, and, yes, snow. It has always been in my life. I’ve never left Wisconsin long enough to miss a white season. At times I might grow sick of it, but I can’t quite hate the Winter precipitation. Every time an inkling of contempt for the wind or the messy slosh enters my mind, I always seem to come back around to the feeling of warmth that follows seeing a fresh coat of snow draped across the creek that runs through my campus. The ducks casually cruise across the glass-like water surface in a peaceful, semi-wooded patch of serenity. Snow compounds the beauty of the most gorgeous scenes. But, with every beauty there’s a beast.
Sunday’s snowstorm brought an attractive landscape, but it proportionally invited death. Car after car plunged into ditches all around Dane County and throughout Wisconsin. At least one woman dies after crashing her car into a ditch. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence, but it is nonetheless horrifying for residents of a state of which you readily expect snow to disrupt your commute. I am an experienced Winter weather driver and even I decided to stay in on Sunday (maybe that’s what my years of driving taught me best: when and when not to drive). Snow can be destructive, as beautiful as it is. Which got me to thinking about other examples of overbearing and brutal beauty.
Beauty comes in many forms: physical/sexual attractiveness, overwhelming joy, loving sacrifice, a perfectly charred cheeseburger… There’s no way that I could name all the ways I see beauty, and there’s definitely no way for me to see yours. I can recognize, though, that some of the most beautiful things in my life can also be destructive: frustration after a lopsided romance, angry nostalgia for joy long lost, missing what I had once had but given up, the comatose feeling after devouring a Five Guys burger… As everything in life comes to a balance, so does the beauty. Yin and yang.
Snow can be beautiful, but it can also be overbearing. Drive slowly, be smart, and know that it’s pretty isn’t all positive.