Self-portrait in Mt. Auburn Cemetery Winters as cold and snowy as this one cry out for a long and thought-provoking winter book. I finished re-reading Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale the other day, and only today’s 40-degree heat wave has managed to break the contemplative spell in which it left me.

The book may be a paean to New York, a morality tale, or a treatise on beauty and justice, but it’s also a window—a window through which we can see not just the struggles of another time, but the way in which humanity struggles against everything which it cannot know or control in blind pursuit of ideals, principles, happiness, and survival.

Living as I do in an engineer’s world of specificity and detail, it is humbling to consider the city on such a scale. But Helprin’s gift is to make it seem magical and effortless, like the passing of the seasons.

Photo: Self-portrait at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, 2008.