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Why I love January
And it’s not only because it’s eleven months until Christmas comes round again, It’s something about the change of mood. I love the warm reds and golds of Christmas, the lavish decorations, spilling generously into all aspects of the house. But there’s something about the icy contrast, when all those decorations are dismantled and put back into their boxes that I love.
For me January is about silver, bright white lights instead of the warm ones I have at Christmas that I find exhilarating and full of promise. I don’t give up the lights until Candlemas, (2ndof February, it ties in with Imbolc – a Celtic festival celebrating the coming of Spring) and have been know to keep them going all year round, but I do love the sparseness of the house when it’s all clean and empty after Christmas.
If Christmas is red and gold, January is dark green, white and silver. Think about snowdrops being different to holly. Both are lovely and both have their time in the year.
I know that the weather can be truly dreadful in January. It’s more often raining and muddy than snowy but it’s noticeable how the evenings begin to draw out. Even by Christmas day, only four days after the shortest day, things begin to improve. I am that annoying person who goes round saying, ‘if Winter’s here, can Spring be far behind?’ (Ode to the West Wind by Percy Byshe Shelley).
I think one of the reasons I get enthusiastic about a universally dreaded month is because of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett (not to be confused with the book I wrote, A Secret Garden.) This is surely a seminal text and I don’t know of any female writer who doesn’t love it. And the bit I love most is the ‘it’s wick’ bit. Mary, orphaned daughter of the Raj is sent to Yorkshire in winter and discovers the secret garden. Dickon, who she finds there eventually, tells her how to find out if the dead-seeming plants have life in them or not. Now, when I scrape a bit of bark off and branch and find green and sap within, I think of it being ‘wick.’ (This is a Yorkshire dialect word meaning, among other things, alive.)
In the sheltered Cotswold garden where I live, everything is wick all the time but there is still that magic when something shows it’s first bud or curling leaf.
It’s also lovely to get back to normal food. I really look forward to Christmas excess, the cheese, the chocolates, the biscuits, the pastry, the sausages with every meal. But although it’s cold I really want to eat salad. I want food that crunches that isn’t crisps.
Strangely, although I am the untidiest person in the world (and I’m really not exaggerating) I do like putting away the decorations. I have a different system every year (which adds to the jollity of getting them down from the attic, not.). I often buy more decorations in the sales after Christmas and pack them away with the old ones. They then come as a lovely surprise when I find them next time.
However, although I’ve got most of the decorations down I’m not ready for them to go away yet. I have put a green and silver garland, intertwined with some proper plug-in fairy lights to put on one of my mantlepieces. (Battery lights are great but they do get a bit dim eventually.) Now I have to force myself to take away the holly and scarlet lights that are still decorating the mantelpiece in the sitting room. The amaryllis (fake) look wonderfully Christmassy, but it’s time for the January look. It’ll be silver candlesticks with white candles and may be my mistletoe lights any day now.
I’m also a bit fan of the countryside in winter, especially on nice days. We have lovely views from our house and they’re better in winter when instead of leaves I see the branches of trees silhouetted against the sky. In fact I love this so much I’ll take this opportunity to apologise for the number of times descriptions of this creep into my books.
But when it’s dark and cold and raining, I love snuggling down next to the wood burner with my March issue of Country Living.
Perhaps I can improve on Shelley’s quotation. ‘If January’s here, can the March edition of the glossy mags be far behind?’ They come along far quicker than actual March, or indeed actual Spring. And I still enjoy January.
Love Katie xxx