14th General Election (GE14)
People crossing the Ha’penny bridge during heavy winter fog in Dublin, recently. Winters are generally quite mild in Ireland, but there is the occasional snow. REUTERS PIC

I HIDE under the lovely duvet and tell myself it is not time to get up yet. With the heavy curtains drawn, I convinced myself that morning has not broken, so I grope for the alarm clock and hit snooze again. It takes quite an effort to trundle out of bed.

This generally is my mood on a wintry morning.

“Winter is coming” is the motto of House Stark, one of the Great Houses of Westeros in the Game of Thrones. The Starks, being the lords of the North, take great measures to prepare for the onslaught of winter. It is a time of vigilance as it is the hardest season.

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis uses winter to represent a very trying time under the rule of the White Witch in Narnia. Winter is the final stage in the procession of the seasons and is almost always associated with darkness and a general slowing down.

Hate it or love it. Winter is how we want to view it.

Although it is a period of dormancy, I embrace the time of introversion, contemplation and stillness. It is the time to come to terms with what I have done or not done, and what I have lost or gained.

Winters are generally quite mild in Ireland, but there is the occasional snow. That is when we’ll see the tree limbs hanging low from the weight of the snow, and it is such a lovely sight like silhouettes against a white background.

Creating silhouettes involves tracing lines around the object’s shadow. Every limb and every leaf is distinct, different and beautiful. So, too, is every creature, big and small — distinct, different and beautiful.

I was in a sugar paste demonstration session one evening and a friend lamented that she could never do the leaves and flowers to perfection. She said that the demonstrator was very talented.

What she meant was that she didn’t measure up to such expectations or that she could never be as good as the demonstrator.

I turned to her and, in jest, asked her whether it was an Irish thing to think much less of oneself when compared to others?

I added that she might not be able to create the leaves and flowers in the same likeness, but surely, she was very good in many other areas. There was no need for comparison. We are all distinct, different and beautiful.

Footprints on snow are also very delightful — the robin, the squirrel, the cat and others that keep you guessing who or what had left them there.

Footprints can be in a definite line or all over the place. I think of the footprints that we have left behind for others.

Will our acquaintances, friends and family follow where we have trod or will the prints just be washed away by the rain to form a mushy nondescript slush?

Footprints in the Snow, written by Mei Matsuoka, is about a wolf following a trail of footprints to find a friend and to prove that the concept of the “big, bad wolf” is wrong. It is about latent instincts and stereotypes, something that we battle with.

Winter also sees birds flocking to the feeder. I hang up the feeder and it is such a pleasure to watch a flock of birds pecking at nuts and seeds. What makes me angry is when the bigger birds hog the feeder and bully the small ones, which are too afraid to remain on the feeder for long.

And then, there is smoke that swirls above the chimneys.

That is a very comforting sight because I know there is someone at home and there is warmth. As we feed turf, wood and coal into the hungry stove that devours everything completely, the waft of fragrant lumber fills the room.

Let the flames lick up all our inadequacies, our failures, our mistakes with great fervour and release the sweet aroma of hope and possibilities for a new cycle.

I have taken the journey through 2017 and I am content with what I have, what I have done, and the family and friends that I have. I await the new year just as Winter awaits Spring to express her grand show of transition outwardly while the frozen beauty melts.

Wishing all readers a happy new year.

kohslhoward@gmail.com

The writer was a lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Mara and now spends her days enjoying life as it is

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