When the chill begins to creep into our bones and the sun burns a little less brightly, a door is unlocked in our minds. There is something about winter that brings on a sense of melancholy, when all you want to do is curl up by a window and watch the world pass you by. I begin to notice that the season is changing when I unconsciously linger by the door, breathing in the changing scent.
When this feeling of melancholia turns into something more intense, it is called seasonal affective disorder or SAD. The lack of sunlight can end up messing with our internal clock, which leads to us feeling disoriented or depressed. Many people suffer from SAD so it’s best to do your research and speak to a professional if needed.
Though the feeling I speak of above isn’t exactly like SAD, it is more of a shift in thought, the way we think and feel. As the weather changes and the sweaters come out, it is very easy to curl up in bed and reminisce, to pull out old photo albums and give in to sentimentality. All seasons have a charm of their own, summers with the ice cream and air conditioners, spring with the flowers and fall with shedding trees. But winter … it brings people together in a way that is unique to this season.
Girls walking on the street holding hands to keep warm, knitting sweaters for your cat, huddling in front of the heater while your father grumbles about gas prices. There is a sense of camaraderie, becoming united to defeat the great enemy: the cold. Because while there’s no joy like eating Jetsport under a tree during a heat wave, there is also nothing comparable to sitting on the sofa with your family and enjoying a cup of your mother’s special tea.
Besides that - and some people may find it strange - there is also something comforting about the symptoms of winter. Around every corner is a person sneezing into a tissue, coughing into their elbow, and buying flu medicine. Of course, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus turned these fairly innocent symptoms into something insidious but now as we slip through the grasp of that time, we can perhaps begin to see the mundanity of such things once more.
A quote which is attributed to Aristotle goes: ‘To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary ‘to stand out in the cold.’ And for someone like me, who hates the cold yet adores winter itself, this beautiful quotation until recently considered to be by anonymous and now credited to Aristotle stands to be true. Every year on the last day of December, I will continue to wrestle the biting wind to stand on my balcony and watch the fireworks. Even if by the end, my nose becomes close to falling off and I’m on the path to a migraine. Because there is beauty in the cold weather and it’s perfect.
For those of us in Pakistan, winter is always a special treat. Summers in Pakistan are grueling and harsh, so winter is always a welcome reprieve from the heat that remains the rest of the year. You will hear the word sardiyan on everyone’s lips from October onwards; it will either be people wondering when winter would arrive – truer for Karachiites - or reminiscing about how cold it used to be. For us, winter takes the form of yearning. We talk about it the way one would speak of their lost lover, a pining letter, a confession.
I suppose this is also a confession of love, to a season I usually pretend to hate. So, let’s all take this moment to appreciate the chilly breeze wafting in through our windows, the blanket over our legs and the people around us.
By Emily Brontë
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.
The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.
Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.