It is in its dying moments now. Some may say it is already dead. Yet it has lived and thrived for almost 3 months this year which has been its usual, normal life span.
This season however has been uneven. Sometimes it’s been severely cold with temperatures dropping to 10 degrees in Bhubaneswar (that was the 3rd lowest in the city in past 10 years) and sometimes ebbing away, giving the impression it was fading but only to return stronger after a couple of days.
This was partly due to rains which lashed parts of Odisha in all 3 months i.e. from Dec-Feb. Each time it became overcast the temperatures rose, only to plummet once again as the clouds rained and dissipated away.
Perhaps these unseasonal showers are just a reflection of the changing weather patterns we we keep hearing about these days, but have not yet fathomed its severity on our lives.
For the moment however, I am not thinking about global warming. Rather I am ensconced snugly in the safer confines of my home and enjoying the last few moments of a season which like its antithesis Summer evokes diverse reactions.
Some people love the cold comforts which winter brings with itself. The mild sun, a warm blanket and a hot cup of tea are some of these luxuries.
For me personally winter has always evoked mixed feelings. I love to hate it as essentially I am a summer person who enjoys the sun and the power it exudes over all of us. Winter and the cold make me uncomfortable.
For example, I like sitting and reading in the evenings in my balcony for long periods. But while the clock shows only 5.30 pm the sunlight is gone and it’s already time to head back inside my room.
That is not too comforting as I like to soak in the sights and sounds of the busy road in front of our house while I am engrossed in leafing through the pages of my current favourite book.
The winter dusk comes in quickly and somehow there is a dark and depressing feeling around it.
Yet winter is powerful. It tames the sun and makes it go soft. Its rays become as mellow and feeble like my grandma’s temper. Even as I walk in it for half an hour during my morning exercise it barely feels on my skin. A similar morning walk in summer would cause ample discomfort!
Winter comes with its own peculiarities like each season does, and there are certain scenes which are so reminiscent of it.
For example, the security guard of the Bank ATM in our adjoining building standing in the morning sun and reading the daily newspaper; a couple of stray dogs lying near his feet and sun bathing. People in the evenings huddling together on the roadside around a makeshift bonfire and spreading out their hands intermittently to feel its heat and get some comfort.
It is the season when people clamour to become tourists and pile onto the next available transport to go to a place they have been wanting to visit all year. Not only people, even millions of birds take their annual flight out of frigid zones to land in more salubrious climes of the region primarily among them being the Chilka Lake.
Even our long stored away woollens, forgotten in dark cupboards get an opportunity to come out and see the world during this season. They may have become loose or tight depending on how the owner has gone about their food habits in the rest of the year but they have a role to fulfil – keep him/her warm and away from the chill.
However the maximum glory of winter can be seen around us in nature. Flowers bloom in abundance and bring us unlimited joys with their bright colours and multiple hues.
Dew drops caress the leaves overnight and the morning mist slowly lifts its veil over all things, both mundane and beautiful.
Now as the season is ending I can see further evidence of the changing moods – in the leaves of trees around me. As a cool winter breeze picks up and rustles the branches of the trees, dry withered leaves by the dozens drift to the ground like discarded robes and the trees will very soon get a new soft cover.
A local Indian almond/badam tree (Terminalia catappa) next to my house had almost red coloured leaves throughout winter. Now, gradually green leaflets sprout from amongst the reds as the older ones undergo shedding. And not a single leaf changes colour without the silent knowledge of the whole tree.
Soon, they will decay and become one with the soil; essentially gong back to where they came from.
This is so much akin to life itself – the old making way for the young, the withered ones being replaced with the tender. For the basic principle must be adhered to – that Life has to go on.
Even if that means changing seasons and its myriad moods from one to another.
If Winter would say, "Spring is in my heart, who would believe Winter?" -Khalil Gibran