I’ve made no secret of the fact that autumn is my favourite season, but just because I’m sad to see it come to an end doesn’t mean I’m not greeting winter with a warm embrace. Just look at how beautiful the last remnants of autumn were on my walk to work this morning, brown leaves rimmed in silver, twinkling in the low morning sun.
Winter is about a hundred times better in the north of England than it is in my hometown of Auckland, New Zealand. While at home winter falls in the middle of the calendar year, a period in which there are - cruelly - no public holidays to enjoy or dates to look forward to, its also a place where 99 times out of a hundred winter comprises grey skies and rain, rain, rain. Here in Yorkshire, snow is not uncommon, and the traditions of the holiday season lend themselves in a most delightful fashion to the cold weather.
It is a truly magical time. All Yule logs and silver frosts in crisp mornings. All mulled wine drunk on cobbled streets and fairy lights in windows. All cosy pubs and fires crackling in the grates.
Given this deep appreciation of wintry delights, it may come as no surprise that when I spotted a book in my favourite bookshop in York with a snow-dusted cover design entitled ‘Winter: A Book for the Season’ that I snatched it up. The blurb reads:
Feel the force of winter and appreciate its beauty through this collection of the best writing on the season... a wonderfully readable anthology specially selected to warm “when the north wind doth blow and we shall have snow."
Editor felicity Trotman has pulled together a diverse mix of contemporary and classic writing to show the beauty and might of the cold season. From eyewitness accounts of London’s famous Frost Fairs - lively markets which took place on the frozen solid river Thames in Georgian winters - to an ode to wild Scottish winters penned by Robbie Burns. From detailed descriptions of yesteryear’s Christmases to a love song by King Henry VIII. From a memory of a winter so harsh that “the crows’ feet were frozen to their prey” to a poem about snowdrops. From the imaginings of what life as a sheep must be during deepest, darkest winter to an excerpt from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
This book paints an enchanting picture of the many sides of the season, depicting its beauty as well as its terror, how it wreaks havoc and how it's eerily still. It is a love letter to winter and made me fall utterly in love with it too.