I woke up this morning and looked out of the window. Outside, the grass, just touched ice, stretched away to a dam dotted with silent birds. Beyond that, hills gently undulated into mountains, towards, in the distance, a taller peak dusted with snow. The fingers of the sunrise were just painting the snow a gentle pink. Away in another direction, a copse of bare trees reached for the huge blue sky against a background of green hills. I was staying with friends just outside of town but in town was just as beautiful. The winter grass is dry but there hasn’t been much frost so lawns are still green – a perfect contrast to the white frost.
I sit in the garden in the mid-morning sunshine, watching a white cat trying to catch moles. A robin is bobbing from branch to branch in the apple tree. No gloves, not hat, no scarf, just one jersey – I’m not even wearing shoes – but I’m warm. I’m warm. It’s the middle of winter and a cold day but I am warm sitting in the sun, outside.
This is the winter I love. This is the gentle, beautiful winter that warms up in between cold fronts and has so much sunshine, for so much of the day, that a day that doesn’t reach the mid-teens is really, really freezing. The sun was shining brightly by 7:30am this morning.
I struggled with winter in Korea. I found myself much in sympathy with the ancient Europeans who honestly feared each winter that the sun might never return. It shook me. I began to wonder if I was imagining the pleasant winters back home. Everyone around me seemed perplexed because ‘that’s just how it is’. Being back, seeing the beauty and with my heart giving a jump of joy each time I remember that I can go outside, I feel sane again.
This, this is what winter should be like, with the dry grass and the red, red aloes and the birds and the blue, blue sky. There were no birds in the Korean winter, and no sunshine and no warmth and no winter-blue sky. Part of me wants to spend the days just lying on the grass and breathing in the joyful beauty of a proper African winter.