When I email a friend in Chicago to tell him the snowpocalypse is coming to St. Louis this Friday at noon, I beseech him not to laugh too heartily at us lesser, lower-Midwestern mortals. We who buy all the bread and milk and thin-crust frozen pizzas topped with provel when only five to eight inches of snow might fall. This friend is kind and writes back, “Really it’s fair because my friend from Milwaukee looks down on Chicago as a snow-bunny also—it’s a hierarchy.” Perhaps all of Canada looks down on Milwaukee, and Barrow, Alaska down on all of us?
Of course, there is a pecking order in who braves the cold the best, who really knows what winter is. Blair Braverman, author of the memoir Welcome to the Goddamn Icecube and dubbed the “21st century feminist reincarnation of Jack London” by Publisher’s Weekly, recently made a video to show what she wears when it is 30-below (side note: Braverman is training for the Iditarod). Braverman’s layers upon layers of gloves and snow pants with suspenders and long johns upon long johns look like a mille feuille crepe cake of insulating warmth. Braverman’s garb exhibits a type of commitment to survival I am confident I could not pull off. There is a hardiness, a fierce determination to not succumb to a cozy chair with hot tea and a great book while wearing a wool sweater, jeans, and the softest of socks (and, of course, privilege plays a large part in being able to stay inside).
Braverman, for sure, has fantastic adventures training her delightful sled-dogs, who have names such as Grinch, Pepé, and Jenga. Me? I am, as Billy Collins wrote in his poem, “Snow Day,” “a willing prisoner in this house, / a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.” All I want is to daydream under blankets and pour myself another cup of hot coffee without wearing shoes.
So in honor of the weekend storm that will not only blanket Missouri in snow but will also “unleash” a wintery mix from North Carolina to Virginia, I offer up a playlist. A sonic ode to hygge and not just getting through winter and the rush-hour blitz through black ice.
Foreigner, “Cold As Ice”
Howlin’ Wolf, “Built for Comfort”
James Taylor, “Sweet Baby James”
Elliott Smith, “Angel in the Snow”
Hank Williams, “Cold, Cold Heart”
Joni Mitchell, “River”
Tori Amos, “Winter”
The Walkmen, “While I Shovel the Snow”
Lauryn Hill, “Everything is Everything”
Gillian Welch, “Winter’s Come and Gone”