I love the fact that in Austria there are four distinct seasons. Over the next few weeks I’ll be publishing creative pieces on the sights, sounds and smells of the four seasons. This is the first week, beginning with winter. Enjoy!
Winter is fresh… winter is clean… winter is cold. Sometimes it’s so cold your teeth hurt, your head aches and your shoulders seize up from the unconscious tension of trying to keep warm. Lungs grumble complaints from their normally protected place inside if you breathe too heavily. Feet and hands cramp and numb and scream to be warmed by fire.
Yet a brisk walk in the bitter chill is incredible – every breath a cold dream, clearing away the cobwebs, pushing out stale air.
When fog creeps through the valley, it can be all-consuming, enveloping and almost claustrophobic in the way its thick denseness presses down. The air you breathe feels heavy and useless – like breathing in an indoor ice skating rink. Yet rising above the fog reveals a magical blanket of fluffy clouds and a blinding sun that beats over snow and ice.
As soon as snow falls the silence descends – muting everything around into the soft crunch of snow beneath boots and the quiet thud of powder being shovelled away. Everything looks magical when it’s covered in snow – the oldest of houses transform into gingerbread dreams perched atop of hills, agonisingly green pine trees bow under its weight, and fat flakes fall lazily to coat the soft folds of winter jackets and shiny curls of hair.
Ice lines the edge of rivers, threatening to engulf them – fish swim lazily below the surface of frozen lakes – visible through the hard surface. Roads are lined with white, their surfaces usually clear but for the salty, twin tracks of constant traffic.
The days are short, the darkness complete. People walk briskly, encased in coats and scarves, feeling the cold, really living it, waiting for the spring.