The Sweater/ Frost

Joining with Amber on Mondays for concretewords, where we practice writing by communicating the abstract through concrete things – a Horse, a book, stairs – and today I’m catching up and doing a double whammy: The Sweater and Frost. These concrete words posts have led me on a journey through childhood and nostalgia and spiritual maturity – I write and that’s what comes out at the moment. Join me?
Cold heart


I. The Sweater


I was not really accepting visitors, as I had been hit hard with a virus and been in bed for the past fortnight, but he came in anyway. He was wearing a new black fleece with some trendy white mark on it, which he had gone on a special trip for.


“Come for a walk,” he said.
“I can’t,” I protested. “I’m still getting better,” but I was pretty much better and I was bored. I was annoyed and excited that he completely disregarded my protests.


“We won’t go far,” he promised.


He was only a friend, and he was rather irritating. He had a habit of not listening to me. And yet, here I was, trudging up the cobbled streets in the cold Durham air for the first time in two weeks, falling into a rhythm together as my shoulder leant against his arm.


We stopped in the cathedral, and sat on a cold bench for a few minutes. There was a simple quiet among the tall arches and we paused and felt it together. It was cold, and I could sense his warmth through his fleece.


We left the cathedral and he walked me home, eyes brighter and cheeks flushed from the crisp air.



Months later, I asked him what on earth encouraged him to continue to pursue me when I had given him no indication that he might be successful in his romantic suit.


“In the cathedral,” he said. “You snuggled.”
“I did not!” I protested.
“Oh yes, you did,” he said, triumphantly. “There was definite snuggling. It was the reason I bought it.”


Fourteen years after that day in the cathedral, I stroke that same black fleece. It feels as comforting to me now as it did then.



II. Frost


Frost is not as magical as snow, but it is an acceptable substitute.


School bags hastily fastened, we would bundle out of the house into refrigerated beauty, everything spiky and white, spiderwebs turned into chandeliers. Each word was imbued with extra self-importance, heralded by real-life speech bubbles, our invisible breath transformed into clouds of powerful air.


We would crunch across the lawn over to the car, and swish at the windows, our woollen mittens coming away with a sprinkling of cold sand-grains which melted, droplets adorning the fuzzy threads. I would take off my mittens, and scratch at the hard ice with my nails, forging a path through, leaving my mark, my name, my words, till my fingers were numb and red.


We would take a step back from the car and admire our art, the ice bunched up into tiny mountains and valleys on the glass, chaotic dark lines running through the purity of the ice, haphazard slices through the canvas.




I liked the feel of the crunch of my feet on the grass, but I would look back with regret at the bent stalks, my footsteps exposing a green and brown bruised path through the crystal lawn.


I compare the purity and magic of God’s creative finger and the chaotic lines from my red and numb one, and wonder: is there a way of creating that highlights His work rather than tattooing my name on top of it?


Over to you:

  • The Sweater is part of my love story. What item of clothing reminds you of a loved one?
  • In what ways do you try to create in a way that highlights God’s creation?


Previous concrete words posts:
Halfway up the stairs
One Book
The horse

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20 Responses to The Sweater/ Frost

  1. Ashley @ Draw Near 12th November, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    Tanya, I definitely resonate with multiple aspects of your story here. I loved reading of your early relationship with your husband, the crunching across grass and that creating of a path. I find that the actual act of writing is a place of intimate connection for me with God. It’s definitely in the “after” of releasing what I’ve written that I struggle more — how I’m received in all those ways we bloggers can measure those things. Yes, that my heart would continually be drawn back to his in this dance of creating. What a blessed partnership all of this can be.

    • Tanya 12th November, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

      Thanks so much for your lovely comments!
      I can definitely relate to what you’ve said about the process of writing, and it helps me to identify my own process through your telling of it. Today I felt a real joy in just writing and crafting – it can so easily get lost in the numbers and the measurements. I’m totally with you on that, and I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. Much love x

  2. Charity Jill 12th November, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    “You snuggled!” Baahaha! That line made me squeal. I always feel a special sort of attraction to my husband when we go out walking on dark winter evenings. It reminds me of when we first started seeing each other.
    You know, just when I think I can’t stomach any more of the whole literary blog medium, with its overwrought prose and pseudo-poetic conventions, you put up one of these “concrete words” posts and I have renewed faith that there is such a thing as good online writing. Lovely, lovely post.

    • Tanya 12th November, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

      Ha! I’m glad it made you laugh! And I’m glad it prompted your own love story reminiscences. There’s something just so darn companionable about winter…

      And thank you so much for your kind words. These concrete words posts always feel a little like a self-indulgent treat as i write for the sake of writing, and my biggest fear is that my blog is actually exactly that – overwrought prose and pseudo-poetic conventions and I’m the only one who doesn’t realise it… (actually, my biggest fear is probably a giant rat gorging itself on my eyes – but the other one is definitely medium-sized fear). Thank you for reassuring me! 🙂

  3. Mia 12th November, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    Dear beautiful Tanya
    Every time I see your smile in my inbox it brings me joy. This sounds delightfully beautiful. South Africa is a country of sunshine and thunderstorms. We very seldom experience snow like you have described and then only in the high lying areas. I can only dream about such a snowy fairy world!
    Much love to you

    • Tanya 12th November, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

      “smile in my inbox” – oh this brings gladness to my heart today! Thank you! 🙂

      And it’s good to be reminded what a blessing it is to have four seasons. I tend to grumble at the colder ones, but they have their own beauty, you’re right. I shall especially remember to appreciate properly the very next frost we have! 🙂

  4. Marie 12th November, 2012 at 8:49 pm #


    I have a jumper that reminds me of my mum! It is soft and fluffy like a teddy bear. Also Danny’s reminder is not an item but a smell! Whenever I smell the certain cologne it reminds me of him.

    I also really enjoy these posts as mentioned above xxx

    • Tanya 12th November, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

      Thanks for commenting! That jumper sounds really comforting and cuddly – sounds like a very apt association.
      And smells are so evocative! (though I’m glad you said it was cologne or I might have thought it was a different kind of smell…! 😉 )

  5. Elizabeth, @wynnegraceappears 12th November, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    Oh I so love this and especially how we as artists highlight Him without tattooing our names on it. I have struggled here. I want to get out of the way so that He is magnified and I am diminished. Is this a struggle common to artists who want to point to him but be invisible themselves or less visible. Your words stir my soul.

    • Tanya 12th November, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

      I’m so glad that you connected with this question – it is one that emerged as I was writing out the image. I’m not sure what the answer is though…

      Loving connecting with you through Amber!

  6. Janice 12th November, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    I love these posts! What a nice contrast with the Five Minute Fridays which are usually more abstract thoughts. I didn’t connect before that the horse and stairs and other posts were all the same sort of posts. They’ve been such vibrant posts.

    “I compare the purity and magic of God’s creative finger and the chaotic lines from my red and numb one, and wonder: is there a way of creating that highlights His work rather than tattooing my name on top of it?” What a beautiful, deep question.

    • Tanya 12th November, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

      Lovely Janice! I hadn’t thought before that these concrete words posts are vibrant – it’s really interesting to have your perspective, thank you! (and I have your email – thank you so much for it – I am plotting my reply!) 🙂

  7. Peter Ould 12th November, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Ask Gayle about what she does with my t-shirts…

  8. tallandrew 12th November, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    “It was cold, and I could sense his warmth through his fleece.” – sounds like you snuggled to me!

    • Tanya 12th November, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

      You’re clearly biased… 🙂

      • Mark Allman 12th November, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

        Yes Andrew… definitely a snuggle. No doubt. You have to be pretty close to sense warmth… unless you have super powers you are keeping hidden Tanya!!

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