Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Joy of Winter

IF this Irish summer was a Broadway play, it would have been over months ago.
It might have earned reviews like this:
“A dismal flop” New York Times.
“A poor imitation of previous productions” Washington Post
“A bitter disappointment” New Yorker.
But because of the way the world works, we have been stuck with this dismal excuse for a warm season since the last time we had three good days in a row, sometime back in May.
So roll on winter.
Winter never lets you down. It delivers exactly what it promises. It is reliable.
It will be in about eight weeks time, I would guess, that we will see the first television ads mentioning Christmas.
There are a couple of department stores in Dublin which will, to my certain knowledge, open their Christmas shops around the same time.

Shortly after, you will begin to hear the Christmas tunes playing in your local supermarket.
Then Santa will arrive at some shopping mall.
The hour will go back.
And winter will be here.
Of course, winter brings with it, rain, cold, wind and darkness. A bit like the summer we’re having.
But winter also brings with it blazing fires in pubs and homes, hot soup, stews and casseroles, cosy nights in with the curtains drawn and the expectation of Christmas not far away.
One of the great pleasures of winter, is going home. Whether you’re going home from work, or shopping or visiting, the pleasure is the same.
The warmth of a house or an apartment after a cold day is a welcome you don’t get in summer.
If you are fool enough, as I have been for years, to stand on the side of some sports arena watching people battle, not just each other, but the elements, you will know the joy and pleasure of that pint in the bar afterwards and the warmth of your own home when you get there.
And isn’t it a wonderful, if selfish, feeling, to lie in bed, with the rain spattering the window and the covers over your head, knowing that somewhere, someone is out there trying desperately to get a taxi to bring them home?
(Don’t worry about the selfishness of it. When that person eventually gets home and under the covers, he or she will feel exactly the same way.)
Winter doesn’t have flies in the garden, those hideous midges, wasps and flying ants.
It doesn’t have people who shouldn’t be baring too much flesh, dressed in far too little far too often.
It doesn’t have all that grass mowing, hedge cutting and weeding.
It doesn’t have burned sausages, raw steaks and the runny eyes that come with barbecues.
Oh, you might say there are bad things in winter and of course there are.
But if you embrace winter, it will embrace you back.
For example, if you go to work in the dark and return home in the dark, you will know that the only real light, is that which you see shining from your home at the end of the day.
Even those who live alone, have the comfort of knowing that, in winter, television schedules greatly improve as the dross and repeats of summer are left behind for another year.
To cap it all, there is Christmas.
Christmas carols, Christmas decorations, Christmas trees, Christmas presents. Children.
Christmas and winter go hand in hand.
And Christmas is the time we most mention peace, even if most people do nothing about it.
And it's a time when we are, or should be, more acutely aware of the plight of the poor and the homeless and the disadvantaged.
Winter, in its own way, is warm and friendly and caring.
Another few weeks to go, and it will begin its slow arrival.
Welcome it.
It won’t let you down.

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