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The breakup 

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Dear Winter,

The first thing we want to tell you is that we will always love you. Of that, you never have to worry or wonder. We. Will. Always. Love you. The second thing is, it's not you, sweetheart, it's us.

We'll always have the good times: the sledding, and those shouts that rise as the sledder dives, a shooting star, headfirst down the hill. We'll always have the squeak of boots in fresh powder, always the look of frozen breath in moonlight, always that lovely feeling of being cozy inside the house as the first grains of ice begin to rattle against the windows, always the joy of finding a five-dollar bill in the pocket of our jacket when we first put it on, always the joy of sitting in the dome of warmth around a fire while you whisper pale blue and gorgeous in the darkness, always the beauty of the waterfall frozen solid on Petit Jean. These are the things that we'll all treasure as April and May come on and the buds light up the trees and the mockingbirds return to their nests, heavy with eggs. These are the things that will make us long for your comfort in the black naugahyde hell of August, when ice cream cones begin to drip before you can get in one good lick, when the playground slides are too hot to be slid by 10 a.m.

Then we'll miss you. Then we'll pine for your chilly arms. Then we'll ask: How could we have ever been so ready to let her go, our sweet, lovely Winter? For now, though, we've made up our minds, and our minds say: We need some time apart. We need you to go.

Don't blame yourself. It wasn't the snow in December. It wasn't even those days in February when you raced up our coattails and slapped an icy hand on the small of our warm backs, a trickster whose tricks quickly ran thin and brittle after awhile. It was not the morning, so cold, when the car barely started, or the day we busted our ass flat on the ice, snatching back an extended wrist a second before impact, remembering our friend who spent a month in a cast two years ago after the same sort of icy mishap. We carried a bruise on our tailbone that went from purple to yellow to sick green over the course of weeks, like an alien sunrise. But that still wasn't it. All those things are in your nature, and we have to take the good with the bad. Too, loveliness carries a lot of weight with us, and there's no doubt you can be lovely.

No, beautiful, it's just that you have finally outstayed your welcome. That's all. A simple exhaustion. We were wrung out by February, but an ice storm in March? That just feels like plain, dumb spite, tinged with jealousy for your sister waiting in her green gown just offstage. Jealousy and spitefulness in a lover is a sin we can't quite forgive. And so, we finally come to the point where we can say the words: We're ready for you to go. Finally we can pack your bags and set them on the stoop: all your coats and boots and thick gloves, all your rock salt and wool, all your ice scrapers and electric blankets. It's all ready for you there. Ready for you to head out the door, and shut it behind you. No, no, no sweetheart, don't cry. No tears. We won't allow it. Remember the good times, not the bad, but otherwise keep looking forward.

Besides, as we said so recently: You have your charms, and we are never able to resist them for long. Something tells us that by the time red-headed Summer sashays off in her cloak of wavering grass and heat shimmer next September, we'll be longing for your touch again. In case you haven't heard it, here's the secret of love, my dear: Passion, like the seasons, is always turning like a wheel.

Your friend,

The Observer

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