Between Here & Home: You're the one for me, Winter

DEAR Winter,

You are much maligned, I know. It must be hard to play second fiddle to the crunch and colour of autumn; to live in the constant shadow of spring with its perfumed promises of new life – the humming and going of bees. 

Summer looks down its nose at you. Few recognise your special relationship with the beach; mistake your dark broodiness for coldness. They forget you are the reason for overcoats, and scarves; for wearing a second pair of socks. That without you, there would be no “rugging up” – life’s unsung joy. 

I feel the need to apologise, Winter, on behalf of all who have slighted you with their hurtful jibes – biting, frigid, blustery, icy, harsh. 

I’ve always preferred to think of you as bracing. Never one for blowing hot air. You invigorate and inspire; give cause to put flame to kindling. 

You, Winter, are the crackling of tinder, the glow of ember, the spitting spark and dancing flame. 

You are the whistling kettle, the warm mug wrapped in a fist. You are the crumpet oozing honey, the dipping of toast in soup. You are the book curled-up-with. The dreaming and the longing. 

We taint you as the cause of disease – blame you for viruses born in faraway places. It’s not your fault, Winter. It never has been.

My earliest memories of you are as a welcome friend. You put an end to the nosebleeds of summer; put paid to Spring’s itchy eyes and throats. 

We shared such adventures, you and I. My bare feet on your cold linoleum. Cracking ice on morning puddles. Carving my name into your frozen windscreens. 

Blowing steam like a young bull, I skated in school shoes across your frosty ovals and nature strips. 

Those afternoons by the gas heater still linger. Teddy Bear biscuits dunked in hot Milo, wet socks steaming, we watched Gilligan’s Island… The Addams Family. 

Winter, you still love long evenings in front of the TV – board games on wet afternoons. You love to bunker down. Get cosy. You are the inspiration for quilted eiderdowns. You are crocheted rugs and beanies knitted by grandmothers. 

You are football boots by the fire, stuffed with newspaper, and clothes horses grazing in the lounge room. 

It’s true, Winter, we had a rough patch for five or six years. We had our differences. You with your below-zero mornings, me with my osteoarthritis. We really were at odds with one another. 

But it was no one’s fault. It’s just what life handed us. 

But I just need you to know, Winter – with this new hip, and pain a distant memory – it’s all behind us now. 

You’re the season for me. It’s always been you. 

And for as long as there are hand-knitted jumpers and toasted cheeses sandwiches, it always will be.

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