The cold in the North Country is different than anywhere I’ve ever experienced. It’s a chill that seeps through wool and skin, deeper through muscle and to ivory bones. I walked towards the car, the soft hum of The Shins beating against my ears as they sing about how caring is creepy. I can still hear the wildness of wind through her headphones, humming its wistful tune of a bitter winter nighttime. It lulls me into isolation, the only one in the parking lot as the snow crunches beneath my boots. Looking up, I am overwhelmed. It is one of those clear nights in the middle of nowhere, with no light pollution, no sound, just the rustling of branches touching and the stars blazing thousands of light-years away, so clear and vivid as the snow filtered to my numb toes. And I feel small as I look into the past, understanding life is exceedingly insignificant. That doesn’t matter. The universe is an infinitesimally large place, and by chance we ended up here, destroying the planet.
The sky in the North Country is crystal, infinitely black, dotted with light and possibility. Most people prefer the summer, when the world is vibrant and loud, marching to arbitrary drums. The winter is quiet and long, darkness pervades through everything, and hushed blankets of white span across fields that were once green. The darkness in winter is different than the summer – it is isolated, ominous, and smells like pine. In the winter, the sun hangs unusually low on the horizon. Bobbing lazily in a crisp shade of blue that is almost white. It’s not like the deep blue of summer. The luminescent ball lulls on the horizon, lazily slinking out of reach. It never seems to travel to the highest point in the winter sky. The light blue and contours of the clouds stress the bubble we live in, a secluded dome from the rest of the vast and evanescent universe. It almost seems as if we are held captive by an immense snow globe. We are alone on our tiny little earth, so far away from our sister planets, yet everything seems so near in the night sky. The moon is no bigger than my thumb, except on rare nights of fullness where it swallows me whole.