Last December was the coldest winter I ever experienced. It snowed nearly everyday in Hokkaido. Despite the freezing temperatures, Christmas winters always represent warm, hopeful and wonderful things for me. The magical dream-like quality of gently swirling snowflakes never fails to rouse the inner child in me.
The year end apparently isn’t a very bustling season in Hakodate. Restless and slightly bored, we hopped onboard the streetcar that took us to the southern edges of the island. The soft white snow against the dark rocky coastline of Cape Tachimachi made for a fascinating sight. This paradoxical idea didn’t hit me until several days later.
Wanting to kill time while waiting for our next ride at the deserted train station of Oshamambe, we decided to wander out into the cold and explore. That’s when we found a long forsaken stretch of snow-filled beach. Quite the irony.
Coming from the tropics, there is something about the stark whiteness and silent stillness of a cold bleak winter that is so dramatically captivating. There’s a strange twisted part of me that yearns for that sense of desolate misery, much like how I really enjoy bawling my eyes out watching heart wrenching tragic romance dramas. It didn’t occur to me before but somewhere along the way, it dawned upon me that if I observe closely, winters actually exist in many shades of monochrome.
On our 3rd morning, we woke up to a different world. The streets were unrecognizably white. Making my way through the thick fresh snow, I felt a curious sense of lightness and exhilaration. It reminded me of annual spring cleaning rituals. Those determined sessions where we declutter our space of accumulated junk and throw out all the negativity and bad memories in the hopes for a brand new start.
This is probably what winters are for. The snow purges the earth of grime and ugliness and leave behind a beautiful big blank canvas. I think I can begin to understand what it means when they say winter is a time of renewal… and Christmas, a season for forgiveness.