NOW THAT WINTER IS HERE . . .
Now that winter is here, and the roof of the shed in the yard is shaken by the wind all night, and the trees are stript of their leaves, and the rain drips all day from their sodden branches, and lanes are wet, and roads are muddy, and evening is a mist creeping across the fields . . . now it is that I am thinking of summer.
I am thinking of summer, and of the warmth of the air, and of the sweetness of the blossom ; of green hedges, and of low banks, of tracks about the gorse, and of small streams in marshy places with many flowers ; of a clump of trees in the centre of a field very cool and shady, or of a little path scarcely able to find its way through a wood ; of blue sky, and of the still grass, the grass in the meadow, or the long grass about the ditches, and of some tall flower not to be hidden by either, but showing its head deep in the corner of the meadow or above the brambles at the side of the ditch. I am thinking of all this and I am thinking of the sweet scent of the hay, and of the scent of the honeysuckle, and of the breath of the cows going home at the end of the day.
Put away winter from your mind, for there is a limit set to all things, and when those days are gone, that season that I tell you of will certainly return. And when it is returned, and days are long, and the long afternoons are warm and pleasant, I will take you to a place I know, where the sun is never tired sloping down across the grass in front of a high and leafy hedge, and where you may watch the hillside opposite and the smoke curling up from one white cottage into the stillness of the evening air ; there you may lie for many hours at a time, with none near you, and with no sound save the low murmur along the base of the hedgerow ; and there you may drink quiet into your soul long after the sun has gone down behind the hay-rick in the haggard, and until the bees have left the foxgloves, and the calves are going home across the field.
And if I was to speak to you of winter then, and of days when the lane was deep in mud, it would be as though I had spoken to you of something you had forgotten, or of a country that you had left a long time since.