I love Winter – it is absolutely my favourite season and the rest of them, in my humble opinion, are vastly overrated. If pushed, I suppose I may admit that Spring is OK…ish, Autumn is vaguely pretty and Summer occasionally, er, sunshiny but that's no fun if, like me, you burn in the shade. No, Winter’s the thing.
I live in a small cottage that's reminiscent of a hobbit house (seriously, if you’re over five foot two you have to duck to get in the door). It’s pretty old with exposed beams and tiny windows. In the summer time, not much light gets in – the rooms can feel dreary and dark and the heat fail to penetrate the thick stone walls. In the winter, though, my tiny house comes into it’s own. The wood-burning stove burns fiercely in the corner, scaring off the murk outside the window, in December the Christmas tree cheerily takes up a larger than is really acceptable percentage of the front room and myself and my daughter snuggle on the couch, reading and watching old movies. Now you can’t do THAT in summer. Noooo. In summer you have to be out doing things all the time. It’s so monotonously energetic that I feel tired just thinking about it.
As I type, wind is howling outside my window, lashing sleet and hail around the skies and generally being fairly unruly and wild. I love it. Seeing the weather deteriorate earlier, I brought in coal for my fire, hung up drapes to hold out drafts and drew the curtains, ensuring a safe, warm and cosy retreat from winter’s wrath. I love this feeling of battening down the hatches. At no other time of year am I so aware of the power of nature. Winter sweeps in bringing snow, rain, gales and cold and we actively fight against it, hunkering down indoors or bundling up to trudge through the elements.
At the very heart of Winter, for me, there is Christmas. I’m a Christmas person – being as it is, in Winter. I particularly enjoy a good Christmas film – I tell you, what would life be with out It’s a Wonderful Life, Meet Me In St. Louis, Elf, Love, Actually or (most vitally) Scrooged?? Dull and miserable, that's what. Also, what other season can offer such gems? None-one, as my daughter would say, is the answer.
Then there is the fact that winter really is the most excellent time for reading. I mean, when the weather outside is frightful (yes, there's a musical post on it's way) and inside it’s so delightful…. then sit down with a book and get on with it. Really. And what a wealth of literature there is that suits a cold winter’s night. Poems such as Stopping by Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (who, as a Brucie bonus, also has a suitably wintery moniker), Blake’s terrifyingly grand To Winter and Coleridge’s Frost At Midnight are gorgeously evocative of the season while any book with a decent Christmas scene is bound to warm the cockles of the heart (Harry Potter, Little Women and Little House on The Prairie are some of my personal favourites). Winter is also an excellent time to scare yourself silly and later in the week I’ll be talking about some of my favourite winter ghost stories.
So welcome to Winter week at The Mountains of Instead, I hope you’ll read the guest posts coming up and hope, even more, that you’ll weigh in with your own memories of the season be they good, middling or bah humbug. And, just because it's Christmas, any comments you make on any of the Winter-themed posts will enter you into a draw to win the Winter tale of your choice. Enjoy!