Don’t let the sun fool you, win­ter is nigh

The Leader (Tasman) - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

Mother Na­ture flipped the sum­mer switch firmly into the OFF po­si­tion a fort­night ago, and sud­denly, the tem­per­a­ture dipped 10 de­grees.

Those of you with dou­ble glaz­ing may not have no­ticed yet, so please be ad­vised: win­ter is com­ing.

It’s al­ways a small tri­umph to make it through March with­out light­ing the fire.

That first match struck is like break­ing the seal on the creep­ing win­ter, and it’s nice to put that off for as long as pos­si­ble.

My part­ner jug­gles the wood sup­ply with the ex­act­ing dex­ter­ity of a Tetris player, stack­ing and reshuffling, ad­vis­ing me from which end to load the wood box, which hard­wood to com­bine with the fast­burn­ing pine, and which pre­cious mound we are to keep for the long icy nights in July.

Some­times I catch him stand­ing on the deck, gaz­ing at the wood stack with the same in­ten­sity one usu­ally re­serves for a com­plex, com­pelling piece of art.

The days are short­en­ing and the tem­per­a­ture is dip­ping, but this is still Motueka, so the sun shines on.

By lunchtime, the kids are play­ing naked with the hose in the sand­pit. Chil­dren have a won­der­ful abil­ity to stretch sum­mer out by an ex­tra cou­ple of months at each end of the sea­son. I ad­mire their har­di­ness, but don’t bother to com­pete.

The slip­pers and jack­ets have al­ready been un­earthed. For my first few years here, the cooler months caught me off-guard.

South Otago gives a much more hon­est rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the tem­per­a­ture when you look out of the win­dow, but here, a clear blue sky looks a lot like sum­mer to those un­ac­cus­tomed to the Motueka sea­sons.

I would head out of the house woe­fully un­der­dressed for the bright, bit­ing cold and would shiver all day with a fan heater parked on my toes in the High Street of­fice, curs­ing the sneaky sun­shine that per­suaded me to leave that ex­tra layer at home.

Motueka doesn’t have much of an off-sea­son any more, with the town’s vi­brancy and pop­u­la­tion hold­ing steady for much longer than when I moved here 10 years ago.

The small lull of calm that be­gins in au­tumn still holds a lit­tle re­prieve from sum­mer’s sen­sory over­load. It’s like an ex­ha­la­tion, and that makes it worth light­ing the fire.

So we may not get the Night King and his fun bunch of un­dead party-go­ers, and no one is run­ning around say­ing win­ter is com­ing, but win­ter is com­ing.

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