The Old Man Grumbling About WInter


I'm tired of winter. It's gone on far too long this year, and the satisfaction of watching storms through a secure window has faded. I'm an old man -- when snow keeps on into March, I start feeling my age, and feeling sorry for myself; when there's still ice on a fine May morning, I start looking over my shoulder for Fimbulwinter.

Oh, I know -- technically it's spring, and the days are undeniably getting longer, and there's a noticeable amount of green in the gardens. But it's poking through frost, for gods' sake!

The courtyards were white with hoarfrost yesterday morn, and then a thunderstorm rolled over us in the afternoon. Got up to a tropical 60 degrees out there. I'd chance the road right now, but for the rains that keep washing it out. A good storm is fine, but I don't like mud. And my ravens hate to get wet. Try strolling through a storm that doesn't know if it wants to rain, snow, or strike you with lighting, with a wet whining bird pressed to each ear: I dare you.

Ah, you must bear with me. As I said, I'm an old man, and we get set in our ways and cranky when those ways are disturbed. Here it is, half past May, and I'm still living indoors -- I should be out in the wild, listening to the wind and watching the oak trees stretch. But the seasons can't make up their minds whose turn it is this year; winter and spring are circling like a pair of drunken Morris Men (drunker than normal, that is) and I am still pent here in the Pub. McKenzie is beginning to hint I could file the back copies of Alchemists Quarterly. My boots are clean! My beard is combed! My clothes smell of old parchment and toasted muffins!

Blue sky, that's what I want, with clouds spread out like a feather cloak or a beach in the sky. Or a storm that knows its business, and has the decency to stick to one season. Lately, just when we get a good cracking thunderstorm and some rain so you think summer's here, the damn stuff turns into sleet. And stars! No stars this winter, just the false glitter of ice: which is fair enough in its proper season, but not enough to keep a man's eyes clear. I want a night so full of light that the sky is dark blue between the stars, and you can taste their fire on your lips, like dew.

I need to be out on a green hillside, where the air smells of wet stone and warm earth, and there are moths with wings as green as moonlight flitting in the flowers of the oak. I need to watch the patterns of young light shifting through the branches of a budding ash tree, through every hour of one day. I need the perfume of fresh-broken earth, and the spice-bread scent of wild oats, and the swooning embrace of roses and gillyflowers where some garden sighs out its breath on a warm breeze. I need to feel the cold wind that is born of shadowed boughs, not ice; and the hot wind that is the exhalation of the desert.

I need another akvavit, that's what I need. Ice mother's milk, we used to call it, Reynard! Another glass here -- the Aalborg, that's distilled from ice and amber. If we drink Her health, maybe the old hag will finally relent and let the spring come home!