I am a child of the winter, born to February – but a romantically hopeless disciple of the spring. Doesn’t everyone love the spring? Those first days of a brightening sky – nature’s ultimate symphony after the unending shroud of winter’s deep dark grey. Picnics. Magnolia trees. Crocuses amongst the grass and the first bare legs of the season.
A certain stage has been reached by this point. Stage four, terminal January. (Forgive me the distasteful metaphor, won’t you?) Today marks the 21st January, a date rooted rather firmly in the winter. And yet, all I want is spring. I wake up in the morning, the house so cold I cannot feel my fingers. I fall asleep at night tucked in under three quilts (one 13 tog, for the record) and two blankets, the sheets so cold I cannot feel my toes. The rest of the day often a blur of numb fingers, feelingless limbs, wandering about my damp room in four layers and two pairs of socks. I drink tea. A lot of it.
You know, there are things I like about the winter. The snow, for one. The slant of the rooftops across the way swaddled in a layer of most virginal white. The city is grimy, but with the snow, I can just about forget that. Hot chocolates (of my dreams, last Friday) and woolly hats and the excitement of that first morning you see your breath in the air. I still remember a day one autumn, aged fifteen or so. Ellie and I danced at the bus stop just because we could see our breath spiralling, smoke-like, into the newly crisp air. I like Christmas and soup. I like those sporadic days of winter sunshine. A warm mug cupped in a cool hand.
This afternoon I looked up from Gunter Grass, briefly, to the window. A pale blue unblemished sky, the colour of old sheets and airmail envelopes, of the sea on a cloudy day. Looked up and back at the clock.
16:38. The first pink ribbons of dusk beginning to embroider the sky. My heart just about skipped a beat. The spring is coming! It must be! The birds were singing. And the birds, much more in tune with nature than I, one hopes – well, the birds only sing when the spring’s on its way, don’t they? They must!
I always lose my way a little in the winter, get lost in my own company, at the foot of my bed. Have unknowable, unwordable thoughts. Take the notion of ‘have a good cry’ rather to heart. And I always forget that it’s just one of those things – an annual occurrence. I forget that it’s a temporary hurdle and worry that I’m gravitating towards insanity, drowning in an abyss of sadness, losing feeling in my toes forever and always.
And today I remembered just what it is I like most about the winter.
(Postscript: If a Vitamin D deficiency could talk, I imagine the above is very much how it would sound.)