Winter houses

'Winter is by far the oldest of the seasons. Not only does it confer age upon our memories, taking us back to a remote past but, on snowy days, the house too is old.'
from The Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard

There is something about sitting up alone at night in the winter, something about the quiet of a house under snow, something about being inside looking out.
'A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight.'
from 'The Dead' in Dubliners, by James Joyce
Thomas de Quincey said 'I am surprised to see people...think it matter of congratulation that winter is going, or, if coming, is not likely to be a severe one. On the contrary, I put up a petition annually for as much snow, hail, frost, or storm, of one kind or other, as the skies can possibly afford us.' Why? Because of the 'divine pleasures which attend a winter fireside, candles at four o’clock, warm hearth-rugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies on the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.'

To save himself the trouble of too much verbal description De Quincey goes on to ask a painter to paint the perfect winter evening; he describes the need for the room to be populous with books, for there to be an eternal teapot (because he drinks tea from eight o’clock at night to four o’clock in the morning), for there to be a lovely young woman to pour the tea, and for a quart of ruby-coloured laudanum besides. I'd be more than happy with the books and the teapot.

And, anyway, solitude is important for the perfect night in a winter house. There is the solitude of being completely alone, like Robert Frost's old man
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon, such as she was,
So late-arising, to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep
from An Old Man's Winter Night
And the perhaps preferable solitude of knowing there are others in the house who are asleep, whilst outside the 'secret ministry of frost' does its work
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness.
from 'Frost at Midnight' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Then there are houses that are penetrated by the weather
And when the wind comes
        the house shivers
                    its reeds and timbers
open at every pore
                       and trembling
in premonitions of shift
from 'The House Through which the Weather Passes' in Remains of a Future City, by Zoƫ Skoulding
Our house feels more like one through which the weather passes, with freezing drafts blowing through unfound gaps, net curtains crusted to the insides of windows with ice, and, since the thaw started, drips from icicles driving their way through the seal around the bathroom window and running down the wall to make cold puddles on the floor. But with my Grandma's knitted blankets, a room 'populous with books', and the dream of an eternal teapot a winter house is still a pleasurable place to be.