Young at Heart: The winter of discontent

TO paraphrase a famous Shakespearean quote, ‘‘Now is the winter of our discontent’’.  I have always welcomed winter. This is the tranquillity in my year, a recuperative time, the re-energising of my being, a time to gently potter inside our home rather than out, read more, listen to CDs which sit idle the rest of the year, watch parliament during the day. 

I cook casseroles in my new slow cooker and chocolate cakes, warm soups and roast dinners. The aromas seep through our home and into our bones. When evening falls by 5 o’clock that is fine with me; we draw the curtains, batten down the hatches, pour a red wine and switch on the electric blanket.

But winter has gone too far this year. It has become fractious and irritable, it is holding on to itself as though it never wants to relinquish the reins to spring.  The winds are still too bitter to do a hearty walk; the sun when it shows its face has no warmth in it. It is cold and friendless.

I am warm in my new home, but it is cold outside every day. I am losing faith in winter’s ability to retreat and let spring step forward. One of the joys of living where we do, in this beautiful city of Bendigo, is the pleasure of savouring all four seasons during the year. Perhaps my memory is deceiving me, but I feel this winter has been achingly cold for so long, longer than any other winter I have experienced in Bendigo, although the experts tell us otherwise.  

Autumn was pleasantly mild, cushioning us against the harsh winter that has followed. When summer arrives I cherish the long slow drawing out of evenings, walks in the cool night air,  easy barbecues with family and friends, but as the months move on and the nights draw in again that too is part of the joy of our seasons of change.

Right now I am eagerly anticipating new growth in a back garden full of young plants and climbers which are holding their breath, waiting for that spring sun to warm the earth, when they will begin to reach for the welcoming sun.  

With our selection of plants I am already imagining visits from our native birds that are nesting in the bush not far away. To welcome honey eaters and rosellas back to our garden would complete our new home.

The plants are patient. They are waiting their turn to show their colours when spring and summer appear on the horizon. We have a mixture of native and introduced species, all hardy and easy to manage. 

Having moved from a garden of half an acre to 45 square metres, every plant has its place and every plant has to thrive or it will inevitably be moved on. They have been told. 

At the front stand the bare-branched Autumn Blaze maples, preparing for spring with the beginnings of fresh young shoots. This year will show them in their true glory. Last year they were planted late and in hot conditions. They proved hardy and tough.

I look forward to an avenue of beautiful trees as spring arrives, which will welcome me at the entrance to my new home.

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