So November has arrived and with the weather that we have been treated to this week, there is no doubt that Winter is here. While this week I have enjoyed the benefit of an earlier sunrise around 6.45, the skies have been too grey and cloudy to treat me to any dramatic orange glows as the sun first makes it appearance, the daylight closing at 5 pm is a terrible price to pay: it means on work days, that we will arrive home in the dark. There will be no more beach walks after work, only the occasional ramble along the street-lit prom if the dogs are lucky.
For some people, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) takes hold in the winter, when there is less daylight around, but this has never been a problem of mine. There are elements of winter that I love :wearing boots and woolly jumpers, taking a walk on a crisp, chilly morning then returning home to snuggle in front of a roaring fire, feeling cosy, safe and warm and shutting out the elements. Joshua is not a fan of the outdoors, but especially in the winter. He has poor circulation, so his feet and hands are always icy and the only way for him to warm up properly, is to soak in a hot bath, then slide into his PJs. I have not noticed the cold being a seizure-trigger as much as the hot weather is but it is a problem, and he often gets blue fingernails when his fingertips get too cold.
So it is time to adjust our wardrobes and our plans in line with the weather. Some commitments will start to be ‘weather permitting’ as snow, ice and fog start to get in the way of our plans. I will have to start to remember to go everywhere with a coat and live my life more indoors than it has been in recent months. Joshua has been generous with his cold germs and has distributed them across the whole family, so we are heralding the arrival of winter with a traditional cough and sneeze.
After bonfire night, Christmas is the next event to look forward to and I have already given a lot of thought to the festive season and how best to get through it, without Mum being around. I now have a plan that I hope will work out, with a combination of busy-ness with visitors and some built in quiet time to reflect too. There is a service at Mum’s church in early December that I hope to attend, when we can light a candle for and remember lost loved ones , which is a lovely idea as Christmas is such a painful time for so many people, something to be survived. But survive it we will, life goes on and the seasons will change, whether we are ready for it or not. We have to endure the hardships of winter, to be able to appreciate the arrival of spring.
While I am sad that Joshua’s school holidays are over, I am not sad about the end of Summer as I love the different seasons: I have walked the dogs this morning and while the sky is bright and blue, there is a definite autumnal chill in the air that is refreshing. None of our family are good in the heat – it is a real trigger for Joshua’s seizures and we all burn with our pale and freckly skin – so the bonus sunshine that we get in September and October suits us better. I love the beautiful orange and copper leaves as they start to change colour and then kicking through the leaves when they fall to the ground. In autumn we are still going and coming home from work in the daylight and the grass slows down so we do not have to mow so frequently. We have things to look forward to in autumn : both my husband and my birthdays and we go away for October half term.
When we return from that Autumn break, then we always seem to be on the count down to Christmas : the clocks change while we are away and so begins the dark mornings and coming home from work in the dark too. But the upside is that we can keep cosy against the cold, as we start to light our log burner again and enjoy the best jacket potatoes cooked by the fire. Winter can be a struggle for many, with bad weather for driving, like snow, ice and fog and a sense of isolation as people tend to stay indoors more. It is more difficult to find the enthusiasm to go out after work and to do things in the evening as it feels as though the day is cut short.
But just around the corner, snowdrops and daffodils start to appear, heralding the start of spring. The weather warms up, the garden springs into life, there are lambs in the fields and the days gradually stay lighter longer. Spring brings with it new hope and the cycle of the seasons begins again. We are lucky in the UK to have the variety of the seasons. I suspect constant blue skies everyday in Majorca and Florida could get tiresome eventually. Our winters are nothing like as severe as our friends face in Canada – they have constant snow and -30 degrees from October to April, which must become depressing, as they have such brief respite from the cold.
Changing seasons mark the passage of time too, we know what to expect. Although the weather seems to becoming more extreme, we have recently had flash flooding and before that extreme high temperatures, so perhaps we should brace ourselves for a severe winter too. Mum died in Spring, we have survived summer without her here, so it shows that, whatever tragedy befalls us, the seasons carry on regardless and there is some comfort in that.