As the nights close in, and the cold wind drives the warmth from our bodies, It’s time for gloves, scarves and heavy coats. Some will look forward to the snow painting their world white, and giving them solid water on which to skate and make snow angels. Others might think towards the Christmas break, carefully choosing gifts for loved ones. For some people, winter will bring hardship with slippery roads and unpredictable weather. Hospital workers will be preparing for the inevitable influx of cold-weather patients, hoping the system will cope. The elderly might have to choose between warmth and food, some being faced with a seemingly impossible situation, wondering if they will survive the loneliness. Yet others can no longer see the point of this struggle, and simply tuck up into their chilly bed, hoping for release, and to be reunited with long lost loves. Street dwellers are particularly affected by the cold. Already rejected by society, with little hope of a future, their world freezes over. With jollity abounding over the holiday period, the gap between them and society becomes a chasm, and with the first snowflake heralding rejection by nature itself, some will make the terrible choice to end it all.
Nature has a very different take on things. Trees tend to sleep through winter, sucking goodness from their leaves, leaving a pallet of colour around. Bulbs and seeds lay dormant, waiting to spring into life when the signal is given. Lucky animals migrate, but this too can be a perilous journey. Others grow thicker coats and even change colour to keep safe. There will be no gifts to give or receive, no celebrations, at least not yet. Creatures will huddle together for warmth, sharing their space with others in the same predicament, each understanding that winter is not the end, but merely part of the wonderful cycle of life. As the deer stand in the forest clearing, breath billowing in the chilled spring air, they know that very soon it will be a time for celebration. When the morning song of the blackbird settles on them through the mist, they will gain strength from the new life being created all around them, and they will know the true meaning of their existence.
Winter was over. The snow had gone but the sun had not yet chased away the frost that froze time in the grassy shadows under the bushes. The air was crisp with chill and anticipation as glints of sunlight flashed across the top of the lake, energising the water and promising the World its annual rebirth…Beyond Dark Waters

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