A dear friend gave me a book for Christmas called, Wintering by Katherine May: the power of rest and retreat in difficult times.
Turning the pages, I realised what I love about winter is the opportunity to relax indoors, wrapped up in layers of comforting clothing, cosy by the fire, drinking piping hot chocolate and eating shortbread. Add to that a mixture of guilty pleasures such as reading, listening to music, and cuddling up with the dogs. A morass of papers, journals, and books lie strewn across the coffee table before making an untimely descent onto the floor in an unseemly heap. Dirty dishes pile up by the sink, along with endless empty mugs from an array of warm drinks.
Cold and wet winter weather makes it impossible to work on the land, even my piggies are nestled in their home, and we all enjoy a pause in the hurly-burly of life without disgrace. None of the usual drivers force us to accomplish and fulfil the never-ending list of jobs, that relentlessly exert themselves.
But this winter wasn’t like that. There was no rain. The sun shone, and the conditions were balmy. A sense of shame soon overwhelmed me when I snuggled into the sofa and, within minutes, I found myself out of doors again, pounding the hard earth with my feet as I hurried two and fro.
I felt cheated. I moaned to my friends that although the weather seemed delicious; it was not right. This was not winter, and I was not ‘Wintering’.
But, as we know, the climate is more than perverse. Summer has arrived along with suffocating heat and fierce winds that scorch the foliage of plants and trees; bone-dry landscapes with crisp grass blowing in every direction has us praying that nothing bursts into flame. As I tell you this, I hear the wind screeching around the side of the building whilst I cower in my study, away from the intensity and buffeting of the elements.
No one has any expectations in this searing heat. My neighbours and I exchange notes on our ability to keep our homes cool, whether we slept or indeed, can do nothing else but sleep, as the warmth saps one’s energy. Some complain of boredom. “What to do?” they moan. Meanwhile, I am gloating! Despite this potential discomfort, I discover an alternative experience. I am ‘Summering,’ and making up for my lost winter.
No hot chocolate for me right now, but jugs of water filled with slices of juicy lemon. I can’t be bothered to eat, let alone cook. So my culinary repertoire has resorted to toast with an assembly of cheese and tomatoes, adorned with torn basil leaves, from pots I have rescued from the garden and which now languish in the kitchen sink.
I have the perfect excuse to lie on my bed, fan whirling and read, or to sit here at my desk and write. Dogs and cats don’t want snuggling as it’s far too sultry and the pigs are lolling in the pig pond, or lying in the shade of their home, anticipating the moment it is all over.
Time is mine.
All those luscious pastimes, so missed in Winter, are now to be savoured in Summer.