We must resign ourselves to winter

17:00, Jul 05 2014
Te Anau
An aerial view of Te Anau in winter, taken last week.

This week Megan Nicol Reed finds that winter has arrived.

It is July now. It is here. This is winter as it will be. And the nights are ceaseless with the coughing and the days short with the sputum. Misery has come home to rest. It feels permanent. Like it’s been grouted in. And now mould is growing in that grout. Actually, there really is mould growing in the grout. The garden may have one foot in the grave, but inside even the curtains are sprouting. Black blight. Oh blight of my life. What life? Is there life beyond the tissues steeped in snot piled high beside bed and couch?

It is shambolic. This is winter as it will be. And you can scarcely bear its relentlessness. The floorboards muddied again as soon as washed. Curse the day you stained them black ash. Who knew every hair, every splash of Milo would show up in stark relief? You may as well take to your bed. Seek the reprieve of an electric blanket, more succouring than the arms of any lover. And when you are awakened in the night by a tempest, do not snuggle down. Be scared, for in the morning the world will have changed. 

That charming golden elm will have crashed through the deck railings. That outdoor furniture will lie in bits. Those bi-folding doors will be coated in a scummy film. Debris will reign. 

It is ridiculous. This is winter as it will be. And the battles are daily. Outside it is eight degrees and your children are arguing that singlets under T-shirts count  as dressing for the cold. You may have bought them a jacket, new gumboots, even knitted a pompom hat, and pictured them stomping, rosy-cheeked in puddles, flinging conkers at each other. But it will all lie untouched, taunting you, every time you open their wardrobe door.

It is payback. This is winter as it will be. 


And although you know better you will drug them up with Pamol and pack them off to school. You will pray they remember the tissues in their pocket and that they catch the telltale green candles before they form. But the morning will come, when they have been up half the night coughing, and dark circles rim their eyes and their temperature is nudging 37.5, and with heavy heart you tell them they may stay at home. And, as if by magic, their symptoms will disappear. 

And because you did not want them to think staying home was fun, you have told them there will be no screen time and now you are faced with a day of jigsaws while trying to respond to work emails and clean those scummy bifolds.

It is ungroomed. This is winter as it will be. And you shall in a moment of madness deem it acceptable to go to the supermarket in your Ugg boots, and before you know it you will be popping to the dairy in your pyjamas for a Sara Lee apple pie because you were inspired by some eejit you watched make one on TV. 

It will seem inconsequential, this letting go of yourself, until you catch sight of your reflection in the rangehood above the deep-fryer at the fish and chip shop, and you howl. 

It is crushing. This is winter as it will be. 

And one day you realise your happiness is determined by those weekly emails from your power company. Well done! You used three per cent less energy this week. You feel like you could take on the world. Singlehandedly halt climate change. And then the following week – because you could not tolerate the mephitic smell of those damp clothes another moment and resorted to your drier – you are devastated to receive a nasty little message claiming you’ve used 11 percent more energy this week. 

It is July now. Winter is here to stay. And it will be what it will be.

Sunday Star Times