All alone in the moonlight

I used to piss and moan about the cold. I took winter personally, as if the creeping cold and damp grey skies were a direct affront, some rude gesture designed to put me in my place.

The winters of the last few years have disabused me of that notion. Something about 0 Fahrenheit, about -10 Fahrenheit, hit a reset button. Obviously this was not a force which cared a whit for my little existence. This was something monumental; a simple, brutal, elemental force to be endured.

I also know that the last snowfall in this area can be as late as April 15th, but I let nature fake me out with a week of very pleasant temperatures. Yeah, that one felt personal.

So I let it shake a mashup loose, which I’d imagined some time ago. I’m actually surprised I couldn’t find it already in existence:

Mouse of Thrones

The background is an HBO wallpaper of the Iron Throne, and the tag line is the motto of House Stark. (I thought about using a picture of Sean Bean, but let’s be honest, it’s been done.)

The little mouse is Leo Lionni’s Frederick. Frederick is a twist on the tale of the ant and the grasshopper – while the other mice industriously harvest food for the winter, Frederick sits about and “harvests” the senses and stories of summer and fall. When the dark and cold comes, the mice have laid up enough food to go on… and Frederick has kept enough memories to give them a reason.

Technically, this was a nice easy combo to work with – Lionni’s pages are simple, so I just selected all the white in the image and made it transparent. (And then I got to paint the whites of Frederick’s eyes back in.) I wish perhaps I’d spent a little more time cleaning up the edges, but the lighting in the HBO shot is weird enough already (coming from both in front of and behind the throne) that a little highlighting around the mouse and flower isn’t too offensive.

Artistically, I like the juxtaposition of gentle Frederick and the violent Iron Throne. Winter can make us mean. Our bodies even respond to cold by hunching in on ourselves. It’s a time which rewards hoarding and holing up… maybe that’s why Americans put our major food-sharing and gift-giving holidays in it. Frederick responds to this instinct to hoard by preparing to give of himself – his memories, his sensations, his art – because he knows his community will need that too, and he knows no one else is preparing for it.

So make art, dammit.

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