Summer fading, winter comes –
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs
Winter robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.
–Picture Books In Winter
ROBERT Louis Stevenson was probably feeling the same when he wrote the above quoted lines – nostalgic, joyous, warm, cozy and beautiful – as I feel every year with the advent of the winter. Like others, the season too has beauty of its own and fills our life with zest.
It’s the time when scorching heat of summer turns warm and one enjoys basking in the sun for hours just relishing oranges, bogori, jolphai, robab tenga, amlakhi, etc. The foggy mountains, the dew drops glittering like diamond on grass, leaves, trees and everywhere after sunrays pass through it, the marigold or morning glory in full bloom, the flocks of migratory birds near wetlands or other water bodies are just amazing treat to our eyes.
The pleasure of taking a whiff of fresh air laced with the fragrance of sewali phool (night jasmine flower) and listening to the chirping of winter birds like robins, woodpeckers, parakeets, kanfulia, sesbhog, maita, aairya in the nearby trees are mesmerizing. Also the smell of burning woods emanating from bonfire lingers in our memory forever. There is immense happiness when the family gathers around the bonfire to warm up themselves in the chilly nights as it rekindles the love and warmth inside the hearts as well.
Winter is not only about laziness, gloom, despair, death or old age as Robert Frost in Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening, CS Lewis in The Lion, The Witch, The Wardrobe, William Shakespeare in The Winter’s Tale and sonnets have depicted among others. It is the time when people of Assam rejoice the most. Traditional festivals like Durga Puja, Deepawali, Laxmi Puja, Kati Bihu, Magh Bihu along with others like Christmas, Valentine’s Day add more flavour to life.
One can’t forget the sounds of bells ringing during various occasions or sights of millions of gleaming diyas (earthen lamps) on bamboo sticks in banana trunks or flavour or taste of various dishes like pitha, laroo, doi-chira or feast and fun on uruka night or taking bath in the early morning to burn the meji (bonfire). Equally charming is receiving love, warmth and gifts, visiting the loved ones and the temples or churches on these occasions.
The famous epithet that says Assam is the land of lahe lahe may be proved wrong as winter in the land is also about various outdoor activities. There is no joy like going for a long walk or jog up to the majestic Brahmaputra river or on riverside road with music of the gurgling water as if inspiring to move on forever tearing apart the obstacles. Actually one does not have to get up at four in the morning during winter to see the light. Moreover, Raas Mahotsav of Majuli, Nalbari and other places during November, Dehing-Patkai Festival of Lekhapani or Brahmaputra Beach Festival of Guwahati during January and Tea Festival of Jorhat during February provide enough chance to enjoy jungle safaris, golf, horse racing, ethnic food, cultural extravaganza, elephant race and ride, kite flying, wind surfing, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, para-gliding, hot air ballooning and many more other than picknicking.
With so much to enjoy during winter one can just look forward to the arrival of this season and remember the words of Pietro Aretino, “Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.”