Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Soft Southerner


It was in the moment between sleep and wakefulness, that little death of a breath when the mind and body take a leap of faith to reconcile after the separation of the night.   no longer insensate but not yet in control of thought processes there was an awareness of something.... different.   an automatic, questing tendril of consciousness reached out to taste my surroundings, slotting each constituent element into it's allotted space.... cat, clock, duvet, toes, pillow, breath, pain oh yes always pain, also something unfamiliar caressing the skin on my face, a warmth long absent, a distant memory almost within reach.... SUNSHINE !!!
With retirement comes a new way of perceiving time and tide.  winter is distinguished by the number of cold weather payments that magically appear in the bank.  every time the temperature drops below zero for seven consecutive days us oldies hit the jackpot and receive a little bonus.   this year?  none.  does that mean there was no winter?   could it be that winter is still to come or perhaps it's not yet over?   were all those icy white mornings a figment from the fairies?  a gentle winter it may have been in the North East but nonetheless the absence of heat doesn't do the old jeni bones any favours.

When we moved here over 35 years ago from the mellow climes of the Far South i was discombobulated the first winter by the sprouting of sledges in our local supermarket, hanging like low growing fruit from every wall.  nobody had enlightened me that Newcastle was further North than some parts of the Scottish border until we woke one winter morning to stalwart parents hauling child bedecked sledges through two feet of snow that didn't clear till Christmas.   it was a moment of epiphany, The Soft South was no longer a concept but an incarnation of which i was bereft.  my sons had only ever seen a feathering in their entire lives so, since we were sleigh-less, i gave them the day off school and we built an igloo in the garden.  
The Big Cold has been tamed over the years, whether by climate change, natural cycling, or a mix of both, but i still yearn for the softness of a Southern winter, still spurn the freezing winds that reach Northumberland straight from the Russian Steppe, still think humans were created for hibernation.   but for a moment this morning upon waking it was spring and this Soft Southerner was filled with hope.




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