I used to wax lyrical about the winter...I did, honestly. Used to write a load of feckin' drivel about snuggling down with a hot chocolate laced with Bushmills and a decent book...and a hot water bottle of course. And I'd write poetically about the scent of turf burning...coming across Kitty's field at dusk on a winters afternoon when the neighbours had lit their fires and the sweet evocative smell drifted upwards into the evening sky.
Sometimes I'd stop for a while and watch as the stars came out...I'd hear Hubert whistling in his cattle yard and my faithful black cats wound around my ankles and their coats were bejewelled by the mist. It was often I'd think there could be no place better than this...no home more welcoming...watching as smoke from the chimneys drifted upwards into a dark sky and listening to the sounds of the farms settling down for the night...
Sudden sharp cough from one of Kitty's sheep, a soft lowing from the cows, the pony snickering and our donkeys braying loudly to let the entire street know it was time for supper...way in the distance a dog would bark and Bobby would prick up his ears and grumble softly before coming indoors to the warmth of the range and a rug to lie on...
The cats would pounce on imaginary foes and little vixens shriek as I clambered over barbed wire fences while my feet grew colder and I thought of chilblains and Snowfire ointment in a little tin and made a note to buy thick socks and hoped the sitting room was warm and the kettle was boiling for a cup of hot tea...
But that was a couple or so years ago. I don't wax lyrical anymore...I grumble instead. I mutter about having cold feet and having to wear dozens of layers and only being able to get through doorways sideways 'cos I'm so feckin fat with sweaters...I positively loathe with a deep loathing those horrible days when the skies are endless grey and the wind howls and the leaves are ripped from the trees and any little vixens shouting out for a mate are totally mad to be out in such weather...
My cats stay hunkered down on top of the hay bales in the barn and think I'm mad altogether to suggest a brisk walk across the fields...they raise disbelieving eyebrows and turn around and go back to sleep...
I wear leggings under horrible track suit trousers and polo necked jumpers that make me itch and root about to find flannel pyjamas and remember to tuck my vests into my knickers to make certain my kidneys are kept warm and cook filling stews and dumplings...
Evenings are spent under a throw or a duvet on the settee muttering under my breath that actually my feet are still cold and would you ever be kind enough to fill the hot water bottle...if it's not too much trouble. I find my fingerless gloves and begin to wear them more or less the whole day and debate as to whether a hat would look really silly if I was to wear it indoors and avidly read those articles written for old people who suggest you move into one room for the winter months...I don't giggle anymore though...just think that's an excellent idea altogether and wonder if there'd be enough room for our bed in the sitting room...
I stockpile lemons and jars of honey and hover over the aisle that promotes instant cold cures and buy some extra strong Panadol...just in case. I fish long forgotten scarves out of drawers and wrap them round my neck and burrow out my thickest warmest coat from the nether regions of the wardrobe...
But I still peer at the place where the early daffodils come to flower and watch for early primroses on the bank in our little field...I still stand outside on clear starry nights while my feet turn to ice and my fingers grow numb with the cold while I wait to glimpse a falling star and listen to the geese landing on the Lough with unearthly cries...
There is still that sweet scent drifting upwards from newly lit fires and my cats still trail after me and wind around my ankles ...Hubert will whistle around his yard for years to come and there will always be the distant sound of a lone dog barking...