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'Long after the leaves have fallen and the embers of late Autumn's campfires have faded to black, the cold mountain winter sets in, holding its ground for several long months and depositing ample ice and snow in the process.....'

This passage, taken from one of my favourite books, Smoke, Roots, Mountain, Harvest. by Lauren Angelucci McDuffie, fills me with such joy about the wonderful season that is Winter.  I have a theory that if you were born in one of the three winter months, then like me (having an early February birthday) you will be so happy when the calendar turns over to December and the thought of cold crisp days when the sun barely lifts over the horizon, fills you with pleasure. 

Tradition and routine starts on the first day of the month when the little tree, that has now grown into a handsome specimen, is moved from a discreet spot in the garden to pride of place outside the handsome old porch. Early in the  year the green outer shoots begin to grow and it seems like it's telling us that it is worthy of such a place during the festive season. We adorn it with white simple lights, set the timer, and from then until the end of February it will welcome anyone coming to our front door.

Then there are the joys of the winter kitchen, where simmering pots of hearty soups using seasonal earthy vegetables bubble away and are devoured eagerly on our return from daily dog walks. I seem to bake more during the colder months and again there is nothing better than returning later in the day after exercise, to devour hot buttered crumpets or a slice of something sweet, sticky and a little bit naughty, to go with a mug of hot steaming tea.

There's no better time to let the world slow down a bit and appreciate the inherent quiet of the season, whilst enjoying low winter sun, flannelette bedsheets, cosy nights in front of a crackling log fire, watching birds on the feeders, working outdoors, lighting and enjoying the scent of a favourite candle and home cooked food with family and friends. What's not to love about this simple and contemplative time of the year?