I’m not a patriotic man. I don’t believe that being born in England makes me any more entitled to it’s lands or feel any more affinity with those within it’s borders than with those outside. However, there are times where i’m filled with a deep love for our landscapes, our seasons and our rolling countryside. There are moments in the year when all theses elements coalesce to create a spectacle of great beauty. The first flurry of winter snow, those crisp mornings that induce a child-like wonder in our world again. Winter can also be difficult, the short days, the long weeks of grey. If you’re anything like me come January you hold a deep longing for the warmth and new life of spring. But as Steinbeck so eloquently put it ‘what good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.’ Like most things in life we need the opposite to hold any gratitude for what we have.
I’ve lost it at many points in my life. I tend to take the appearance of snow as a barometer of how seriously I’m taking myself and my worries. If I feel inconvenienced I know that I’ve become way to absorbed in the trivialities of life. If I run outside and roll around in it I know I’m probably doing okay. I feel that this beautifully sums up the human condition. Winter symbolically represents the end of life, it’s when the flowers die off and nature hunkers down or disappears to start again. And yet even in amongst nature’s cull we are still able to find such beauty and awe in our surroundings. Maybe this is a modern privilege, I’m sure many of our ancestors would have dreaded the coming winter, but equally the fervour with which they would celebrate spring is a direct result of surviving hardship and a re-invigorated gratitude for life. This winter will be a difficult one for many but I hope that in amongst it all we are all able to find some moments to withdraw and rest, safe in the knowledge that spring is always on it’s way.