Winter has been weird this year here in New York. The snow has been light, or oddly timed (Halloween is for witch hats, not snow bonnets); many weeks have had one day where it’s 20 degrees and one where it’s 60; there might be record-breaking winters elsewhere, but the idea that that could happen here in NYC this year seems as far away as, well, Romania.
You don’t know what you have till it’s gone, right? By way of mourning our dearly departed fourth season, winter, Sound of the City reached out to Zola Jesus, who’s something of a winter expert. Not only does her latest album, Conatus, feature synth chords that glisten like icicles in the sun, a voice that wails like a cold wind, and some January-bleak lyrical sentiments (“The sun gives you nothing on these days when you need it most”); it turns out that Zola Jesus (née Nika Roza Danilova) grew up on a sprawling patch of Wisconsin wilderness, and has dug herself out of her share of snowdrifts. These are, therefore, her 10 Most Depressing Things About Winter. But, like love, isn’t the depressing part also the fun part?
1. That point in the season when the air is so cold it stings your flesh and you can almost feel the nerves on your skin dying.
2. The moment you wake up and look out your window and realize the fresh snowfall rides up to your knees. And you have a mile long walk to work.
3. The smell of stale, damp snow pants slowly drying on the floor of your house.
4. Backyard igloos. This is not depressing. The depressing part is in March when you realize the damn thing was built so solidly it refuses to give up. WINTER IS OVER, you’re not fun anymore. Get on with it.
5. Snow days (more depressing for the parents than the kids).
6. Ice fishing shacks, and the desperate frozen expressions of the people who spend the coldest hours of a day inside of them. So bleak, but the fish taste good.
7. January 2, truly the fading moment of winter’s charm. There are no longer any festivities holding down the spirit of the season. Now it’s just cold and miserable outside for no reason.
8. Seeing the sun is out (from inside your warm 86-degree chamber), and for a quick moment hoping it feels as warm as it looks out there. The sun gives you nothing on these days when you need it most.
9. Being a person in the world. This becomes so much more trying, to be a functioning member of society, when you know leaving your house and faring that stinging chill for anything will become an incredible chore.
10. I will end this list with one non-depressing ephemera of winter. Desolation. Everything becomes still, all the peoples are stowed away in their little heated nests. There is this grand moment of peace, which everyone experiences simultaneously and also independently from one another. You learn to entertain and sustain on your own, in your own isolated domain. All while the streets lose their purpose to the fallen untouched snow.
Zola Jesus plays with Liturgy and Talk Normal at Webster Hall on Saturday.