Winter Rebus? (W in box)

The answer is a phrase. (1 9 6 2 1 4 5) … (10 1 7)

Text Version of the image:
Across the top of the image is a single word: “What?”.
Beneath is a white square, outlined in as faint possible, with no distinguishing features. The letter W’s displayed in the center of it, fading from L to R. It may possibly be an inverted “M”.
Outside the square is a field of white.

Hint 1:

Step one (lateral thinking portion): recognize what the question mark in the title and tags (or lack thereof) are telling you... (it's more like a drawing)

Hint 2:

If you are staring at the "W in box" trying to guess what the op is thinking, you are in for a long winter. The solution is simpler than that.

Hint 3:

A computer could solve this but it'd be a pretty trivial program, with two inputs and one output.

Hint 4:

"as faint possible"? Shouldn't it be "as faint as possible", or even better, "faintly"? And why did the op bother telling us that a W looks like an inverted M?

Hint 5: (help narrow your focus as this seems to be stumping people)

Is this a rebus?
- No, see Hint 1. So there is no 'underneath a heading' or 'in a box'. You might call it an abstract drawing? Feel free to block imgur with your firewall if you keep finding yourself staring at it.
Are there ellipses in the answer?
- No. The enumeration given is not "(1 9 6 2 1 4 5... 10 1 7)".
So what's with the last three numbers?
- Feel free to ignore them if they are stressing you out. Eventually they will find you.
So what is it?
- The title and last line give some strong hints. See if you can guess a word or two... and then prove they are correct.

Hint 6:

There is nothing special about the W. I could have drawn any other letter or skipped it entirely. And no, 'letter' is not in the answer.

Hint 7:

@mohirl is partially correct. Search the entire puzzle very carefully to prove it. Some things are more than they seem.

• Well, I keep looking, but all I'm seeing is rot13(N QBHOYRLBH SENZRQ OL N TERL FUNCR... HAQREARNGU N URNQVAT (1 9 6 2 1 4 5) … (10 1 7))
– Stiv
Dec 30, 2021 at 0:02
• @stiv maybe think of this as a low difficulty enigmatic vs. a high difficulty rebus
– Amoz
Dec 30, 2021 at 1:36
• Once in a while I come back to stare at this question when I'm not feeling confused enough in my day-to-day life. I really hope someone figures this one out soon, it's driving me crazy. Jan 5, 2022 at 13:29
• Based purely on the date of posting and the letter counts, I'm seeing something like rot13(N Puevfgznf [fbzrguvat.. yrggre?] va n fabj svryq/fgbez...[fbzrguvat] n cerfrag (va n obk)). But I've no justification whatsoever. Jan 13, 2022 at 15:21

Possibly partial answer, with help from Mohirl's comment:

A crossword square in a snow storm

Not sure if I'm meant to find more words for the (10, 1, 7), or if it's just there to get the answer (detailed below).

Ignoring the image completely, and just using the text description. If we use the given counts to select words we get:
1 - Across
9 - the top of the image is a single word:
6 - "What?". Beneath is a white square,
2 - outlined in
1 - as
4 - faint possible, with no
5 - distinguishing features. The letter W's
...
10 - displayed in the center of it, fading from L to
1 - R.
7 - It may possibly be an inverted "M". Outside the square is a field of white.

Taking all the highlighted words/letters and respacing to fit the (first part of the) enumeration gives us "A crossword square in a snow storm"

• Great job! Yes, the second italicized set continues the pattern but not the enumeration, as you have it.
– Amoz
Jan 17, 2022 at 14:31
• Thank you @fijx! And thank you @Amoz, I knew I could trust the solution would be fair and clear. Great solve and great puzzle Jan 17, 2022 at 15:01