Firstly, the heating went on. I still find it strange that all the flats in the block are heated from a main heating system, and that, representing The Salvation Army who owns the block where I live, I have the onerous responsibility of determining the date when the heating is switched off and on each year! I had to forego that privilege this year because I was on holiday, and so it was decided that last Saturday would be The Day when this important event in the annual calendar should take place.
Secondly, I wore my winter coat for the first time. I do try to resist wearing it until the last possible moment, but with the thermometer showing an outside temperature of 1 degree this morning, it seemed prudent to give in and finally acknowledge that the days of boots, puffer jackets, hats and gloves are upon us.
Thirdly, and this is what the picture illustrates, most of the outside cafes have either been dismantled, or are in the process of being dismantled. There were only a few hardy folk who I saw sitting outside some of the remaining cafes in the city centre. Just as one of the small delights at the beginning of the summer is to see these cafes emerge, so, conversely, there is a slight sense of sadness at seeing them dismantled.
In a strange way, experiencing these three harbingers of the winter linked with thoughts I have had recently about the need to prepare for death, almost look death in the eye. This is not a morbid thought,but it seems to me that if I am to live with any sense of peace in the ‘third age’ of my life, this is something I need to do.
Perversely, I found myself thinking that winter brings with it a hope that summer does not have, for even as I live through the darkness and death that winter brings, both literally and metaphorically, there is a certain hope that there will be new life coming out of that death. The metaphor spoke to me, bringing the truth of one of my favourite Bible verses alive for me in a new way. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16:
‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.’