October arrived and with it the definite promise of Autmn. The chill in the air means the polar fleeces are coming out of their summer hibernation, but the Arran is still huddled up with the cedar blocks. It’s not that cold yet. According to the local weather forecast the temperature will drop as low as 3 degrees on Sunday night, so I need to make sure I bring in the tender plants from their summer holiday in the garden.
I used to love winter.
I used to like the drawing in of nights, the shadows that fell as I walked home from school, and the tang of smoke on the night air. I used to like the prospect of frosts and even more so, snow. It never bothered me that it was cold; except on a Saturday afternoon while my parents were off playing county hockey and I and my brother were turfed out of the pavillion to walk around the common until half time meant we might scrounge a quarter of an orange. Until we were old enough to be left at home if we didn’t want to come, Saturdays were nightmares in the bitter winter weather of the late sixties and seventies. Dad retired from hockey when the doctor said if he got hit one more time on his varicose veins, he might well bleed to death on the pitch and so, I got to stay home and read on Saturdays instead.
I don’t know when it changed.
I guess my own battles with bog standard depression and anxiety wasn’t enough but SAD had to muscle in and add a ha’pporth of misery to the winter. I try now, really I do, to cherish the changes in seasons; I make a big effort at things to mark the specialness of the season. I light candles at dusk, I use orange oil on the burner, I choose seasonal foods. I even bought some glow in the dark nailvarnish and black lipstick today for use at Hallow E’en; the lipstick makes me look like a wannabe goth who can’t quite make the grade, though.
But even though the trees are raining down confetti of golden browns and rich russets, I just feel dread. The light is dying and I feel like something of me is dying with it.
I want to establish a new pattern for my winter living, where I sit at this desk with my special light on, and a burner simmering with anti-depressant oils, and music, and I just let myself write. Hang the chores for a while. Just let me have a few hours, an hour even, where I can create a light inside myself. I can see the first glimmers now in my mind’s eye, a faint will o’ the wisp, shimmering at the edge of vision: I am in my cave, making stories from the shapes the smouldering logs make as the burn to warm me and to warn away wolves and cave bears. I conjure faces and voices from the swirling shadows and the rising smoke and I mark the passage of their lives with the still-hot stick I rake from the embers, burning my hand as I try and write on the rough walls of my cave.
Ah, the story teller. Somewhere she’s waiting for me. My inner world may yet help me beat the crushing weight of winter.