Winter in Brussels

The flakes fell fast and heavy, quickly transforming the city skyline into an incomprehensible, wintry blur. She stood still inside the moving tram, watching silently; there were no words in her mind; she was absorbing the scene into her being.

Icelanders called this, “window-weather” (gluggaveður)—beautiful from a distance, provided the distance was indoors, adjacent to a fireplace, and within arm’s length of a hot mug of cocoa, of course. 

To be fair, none of those were really true at the moment: the tram tilted and jerked from time to time; invited cold gusts in at every stop; and failed to provide beverages of any kind to its passengers. Yet, it felt cozy somehow, this unpredictable, shifting stream of strangers, strangers passing through the Narnia-like portal of window weather, strangers brave enough to touch another world. They were traveling souls; this was the common thread—an undeniable sense of camaraderie and understanding.

Arriving at last, she stepped out into the blizzard, cold rocketing through her body, fingers numb within seconds. Wo ist das Atomium? Where is the Atomium? Someone answered, but the words froze in transit. She squinted into the flying flakes. Surely it was close by. After all, a 102-meter high structure could not hide forever.

What was she doing? Window weather demanded an observer, someone on the inside. Buying a waffle and cocoa mit slagroom/with whipped cream (Dutch), she let the wintry scene sink into her mind and body from a sensible distance. Looking through the window once more, the massive iron crystal “magnified 165 billion times its size” stared back at her.

Maybe the point of gluggaveður was just that: when you stopped to look through the window instead of blindly charging out into a snowstorm, you had a clearer, less obstructed view of the world. Perhaps it was tinted—in that you hoped palm tree temperatures accompanied the large, wet flakes—but life always took on varying shades; that was what made it interesting.

The Atomium- Brussels, Belgium