A BACKWARD GLANCE AT WINTER BEFORE GETTING INTO SPRING

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Winter 2014 – 2015 was certainly one to remember. For the month of February, The Malta Airport Met Office reported that Malta had endured one of the wettest and gloomiest winter months, characterised by more days of thunder, hail, heavy winds and rainfall than is normally expected during this period.

Facebook and social media were full of messages calling for the return of spring and summer and nobody enjoys having to go to work when it is pelting outside. It’s never easy sending out young children to school on those damp, wet mornings and to have to put up with what feels like months of constant colds and bouts of flu.

A friend of mine lives in Bergen, Norway where it rains about 360 days each year so who are we to complain when we hear that 19 out of the 28 days of February experienced rainfall? Yet, it does get damp and cold here and we definitely miss our sunshine. According to the Malta Airport Met Office, February normally enjoys an average of 182.2 hours of bright sunshine. The stats this February were as low as 52.9 hours so no wonder we were all grumbling about the weather!

I can easily group my family and friends according to the seasons. Some bask all day in a sunny spot and are regular fixtures on our beaches. Others fly overseas to avoid the hottest months and when they are here, they don’t venture far from an air conditioner. Some hibernate during the winter months, others are out and about rambling whatever the weather.

I look forward to each season’s arrival even if it is just to enjoy the change in weather, clothes and activities. I love all Malta’s seasons with some reservations for the hottest months and mainly because due to work commitments, I can’t spend much time by the sea.

So before putting away our warm clothes, here’s a glance at what we enjoyed during the winter months.

After the first rains

Nothing beats walking around the countryside, especially in Gozo a week or two after the first rains. Everything sparkles with raindrops and a green carpet of grass covers all the fields. It nearly feels like a second spring with all the winter flowers blooming everywhere! Nothing like the winters further north where the pall of death and hibernation touches everything from the dried leaves and bare trees and animals burrowed deep in the hillsides for warmth.

Clear crisp winter days

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Photo credits: Mike Gatt

It is simply bliss to enjoy our stunning coastline without the summer crowds. All you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes, a warm jumper and an interesting route which ends up at a cosy restaurant for lunch and you’ll feel like a million dollars.

Incredible cloud formations

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Photo credits: Mike Gatt

During the winter months and particularly in November, I wish I had paid more attention to my art’s teacher as I really get the feeling that I should get out my paints and capture the stunning landscapes that spread across the sky. The summer haze gives way to crisp, clear days where you can see for miles on end.

Nature’s fury – lashing rains and winds with spectacular seascapes

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Photo credits: Mike Gatt

Simply breathtaking! No need for any other words.

Every cloud has a silver lining

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Photo credits: Mike Gatt

Yes, it might be bad weather out there but it’s warm in here and its great getting those home projects sorted and spending some quality time with my partner.

Rainbows 

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Photo credit: Emma Spiteri

Have you read John Keats’ poem, Lamia? This was written in 1819 at a time of great scientific discoveries. In this excerpt, Keats laments that since we now know what causes a rainbow, it has lost its charm and magic thanks to ‘cold philosophy.’

Do not all charms fly

At the mere touch of cold philosophy?

There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:

We know her woof, her texture; she is given

In the dull catalogue of common things.

Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,

Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,

Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine.

Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made.

The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.

I still feel mesmerised whenever I see a rainbow, especially a double one. I recently saw one which felt so huge and close to where I was standing that I wanted to reach out and touch it.

Cosy corners and wine bars

Winter, for me at least, is a time when it feels ok not to rush from one event to another, when I am happy to spend time with a good book or watching a film. Having an animated discussion while sharing a bottle of red wine with close family or friends is just a perfect way to spend a chilly evening.

So, I’ll say a fond ‘goodbye’ to winter and an enthusiastic ‘hello’ to spring and look forward to the coming months, whatever the weather!