OPINION: It's not the predicted temperature or catalogues and shop windows of winter clothes that make me realise winter's here, writes Pat Veltkamp Smith in And Another Thing.
It is a great purple swede left on top of the letter box, its roots roughly wrested from the ground that morning, that makes me shiver, swap the cotton nightie and sandals for a woolly robe and boots, and join the general sigh that winter's arrived.
So thanks, Tinny, for the swede that keeps me up to speed, its arrival pitching me into the mainstream of life, which ought to start at Anzac Day, but for me comes with the first swede of winter.
Since its arrival, I have swapped bed clothes around, topped up duvets, changed nightwear, found jerseys, boots, woolly hats, scarves and jackets, and have felt cold in my bones.
Before that, a chilly feeling just meant adding a cardigan or socks.
Now that it is officially winter – actually, not really, we wait until June 1, Gypsy Day – we feel that cold is acceptable, here to be dealt to or with. And it warns of chills and flu injections and, worst of all, draughts.
My better half swears people feel a draught if anything is opened, even an envelope or a jar of coffee, much less a window or a door. It is true. People will yell there's a draught, and it may be a doorway down the road, even a car door that sets the cry off.
In winter, there's a desire for close-knit living which, after a month or more, feels quite claustrophobic, sending people off to mid-winter balls clad in next to nothing.
"You'll get a chill. It'll settle on your chest and be the death of you," non-ballgoers warn. But did anyone die from going to a dance?
Did anyone ever trip over their shoelaces? ( Remember the warning: "Do up your shoelaces, or you'll fall over them"?)
I see a world full of young people with untied shoes and everyone seems upright. Old people, their shoes done up all their lives, are the ones who may fall over now.
It hardly seems fair, but who said it was? Life is lots of things, but fair was never in the equation. If it was, we'd be a lot less well off, I guess. So thanks, Tinny.
» Pat Veltkamp Smith was Southland Times women's editor until 1997 and is a former president of the Southland Justices of the Peace Association.
- The Southland Times