Isn’t it true that a pleasant house makes winter more poetic, and doesn’t winter add to the poetry of a house? The white cottage sat at the end of a little valley, shut in by rather high mountains; and it seemed to be swathed in shrubs.
— Baudelaire, French poet
This cosiness is exploited in full in the horror genre for all ages. Take Misery, in which Stephen King goes out of his way to create a cosy, loving shelter after a brutal car accident, before inverting the cosiness to invoke terror.
In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard makes some related points:
- The reason we feel warm is precisely because it’s cold outside.
- Dreamers tend to love winter. More time to dream.
- Edgar Allan Poe had a thing about big, heavy curtains. When the curtains are dark, the snow outside seems even whiter. It’s all about juxtaposition and contrast.
- ‘Everything comes alive when contradictions accumulate’.
- When snow covers everything outside, the outside world is pretty much obliterated. There is no longer any struggle between the house and the environment. The whole universe has a single, unifying colour. ‘The winter cosmos is a simplified cosmos.’
- ‘Winter is by far the oldest of the seasons. … On snowy days, the house too is old.’
In Blackdog we also have a cosy house (on the inside) but it is snowing outside. In this house, ‘everything may be differentiated and multiplied’ (Bachelard).
In the film adaptation of 101 Dalmatians, snow makes a chase scene more treacherous, not least because of the ability to track paw prints. But when the camera pans to this cosy village, the audience is reminded that although a treacherous journey taking place, there is comfort to be found at the edges.