The last few weeks, compared with the Februarys of recent years, have been positively balmy. The extra warmth means that things are happening out in the garden:
A few loads of laundry have even made it out onto the whirligig to dry in the breeze and sunshine. Windows have been opened to let in some fresh air. In turn, I am in spring cleaning mood; and for once I seem to actually have the wherewithal to get on and do it. Carpets and furnishings are being cleaned, woodwork is being dusted, and tiles are being scrubbed. All of which is so absorbing for once, I haven't had the time or energy to do much else.
All of this is cheering. I think that I have found this last winter the most depressing in memory, for reasons that I can't quite put my finger on. I grew up in a part of the country that looked utterly beautiful through more severe winters and (very slightly) shorter days than this city ever experiences. Portsmouth doesn't have the ability to transmute stark winter skies, bare earth and bone chilling cold into anything I find particularly inspiring. The few days of snow that turned this part of town into a snowy village scene turned just as quickly to a month of slush and road grit.
This dissatisfaction is partly my own fault of course - winter doesn't have to be so depressing, even in a city. I think that I have massively underestimated the importance of colour and beauty in my life in recent years. A puritanical streak has been given free rein, which has resulted in a life of utilitarian objects, dark colours and not enough walks in the more picturesque parts of my locality. This year one of my projects will be to reverse all that and introduce a little more colour into our days, that next winter might be a little less galling.
For now the sun is shining, the days are lengthening and life is good.