And so to wintertime. The clock wintertime...not the wind and rain wintertime, even though we have that too. In a year when the seasons seemed in a hurry to pass one another out, we reach the stage where the clocks go back, (2am Sunday ) where darkness becomes our constant companion, there when we leave home in the morning, there to greet us in the evening.
Normally winter has had an inhibiting effect on us. But then this year we have winter’s first cousin. It is as if we are cocooned inside a large tea-cosy — slowly descending, preventing us from living our lives the way we want to. Everything seems much more of an effort in winter and lockdown. Roads and paths are slippery, getting out and about to do the things we want is more involved and now when you overcome that, there is only so far we can go.
This year, our households are communities are torn asunder by the loss of friends, the fear of illness, the loss of jobs, the destruction of the local economies that we all support and which all support us.
And it is also a time when the most incredible bouts of sadness can descend upon the best of us.
When we were young, winter was a time when we were nurtured, when we gathered around the fire, when we marvelled at the first sight of televisions that brought us all a communal wonder.
And when family members pass away, it is in wintertime that we feel their passing the most. For anyone who has lost a loved one this year or any year, the first winter without that person can be very hard. Nobody remembers the first summer.
And because of that, and without key characters in your environment, this winter might seem very unforgiving. Dark and wet outside, lonely on the inside. Reluctant to venture out. When your body and mind are under attack from the seasons. It would be ideal if we could all hibernate for the winter, but then again, we would miss all the potential wonder that it brings.
For six weeks, we have to live with limitation again, but it is still a living. A time for the fireside.
So this winter, let us cut each other a bit of slack — let out that car that’s waiting at the crossroads, because everyone just wants to get home; hold open a door; smile with your eyes (behind your mask ) at a stranger because your smile might be the first smile they’ve seen or felt that day. Combat the lack of daylight by grabbing a walk in the midday light. Grab fresh air when you can.
And if you can’t do that, rearrange your furniture so that you sit near a window and benefit from the ambient light. Ask someone how they are; tell someone how you are. Throw away the glow of the smartphone and talk to people; if you have small children, get down on the floor and play games with them. If you have vulnerable neighbours, make sure they know they can call you without any guilt.
Reach out to people this winter and see what you learn about them and yourselves.
In just seven weeks time, (a week or so after we get out of this ) the days will be getting longer again, and there will be the first shoots of extra light, the first signs of growth. We are but two months away from 2021 — a year that sounds like it is from science fiction. Let winter be a camp that we get through together, watching each other’s back, being decent and nurturing.
In six weeks time, the world might be a better place. Politically, we might see the green shoots that rid us of the ignoramuses who lead major countries, and whose departure will make the world a safer and less divided place.
Enjoy winter and do your bit to make sure everyone else does too. Don’t forget to change that clock — and mind yourselves on the roads this bank holiday weekend.