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Summer at our doorstep

There is an anecdote that two friends were going by the riverside when they saw a 'blanket' floating in the water. One of them jumped into the river and caught hold of it. After some time, the other person shouted: "Why don't you come up with the 'blanket'?" NS Tasneem writes

chandigarh Updated: Mar 07, 2013 09:11 IST
NS Tasneem

There is an anecdote that two friends were going by the riverside when they saw a 'blanket' floating in the water. One of them jumped into the river and caught hold of it. After some time, the other person shouted: "Why don't you come up with the 'blanket'?"

"It's very heavy, I can't lift it."
"Then leave it there and come out."
"I can't do so because it is not leaving me."

Actually, it was a bear, not a blanket.

I am reminded of this anecdote at the sudden change in the season. Looking back, March 3 seems to be the last day of winter and March 4 the first day of summer. In winter, it was the blanket, like the bear, that did not leave us, rather we hugged close to it for warmth. Now, at the advent of summer, we want to leave it, but it's still clinging to our feet, particularly in the dead of night. Summer starts without any warning, whereas winter starts by stages.

In November, there is a nip in the air; in December, there is the cold wave; and in January, the chill makes its presence felt with a shudder in the limbs. The winter wind blows with such abandon that the dripping water freezes at night in the form of icicles. The trees shed their leaves and snowflakes settle on the branches like newly-sprung snowy buds. A time comes in winter when people suffer from frost one way or the other. But William Shakespeare welcomes the winter wind at the time when he is reminded of man's inhumanity to man:

"Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude."

Taking all this in a big stride, it is not possible to ignore winter all of a sudden despite its vagaries. Bidding adieu to an old friend who had not been an unwelcome guest is painful. The memory lingers and it overpowers the tendency to respond immediately to a new call while chatting on the mobile with the old friend. Still, the knocking on one's consciousness persists and one feels oneself in a labyrinth where the escape route is invisible. Like the stranger in Walter De La Mare's poem, 'The Listeners', one may feel annoyed to find oneself in an unpleasant situation, but he cannot exclaim: "Tell them I came, and no one answered."

The summer season, though it starts without a warning, has its stages from blanket-less to sleepless nights. But its tentacles loosen their hold during the April showers and the rainy season. John Keats is a keen observer of the change of seasons. He is even of the view that there are four seasons in the mind of man. He has his lusty Spring when fancy takes in all beauty. He has his summer to chew the cud of youthful thoughts he loves. His soul feels contented in autumn when he can look at mists in idleness. Last of all, he has his winter, too, when he finds the foliage of his mind on the verge of withering. In nature, however, Keats loves summer when his fancy can roam freely:

"She will bring, in spite of frost,
Beauties that the earth hath lost,
She will bring thee, all together,
All delights of summer weather."

Now, at this time, summer is already at our doorstep. It wants to be ushered in without any delay. To a lover of nature, all seasons are welcome. To him the earth and every common sight seems to be clothed in divine light: "Balihari kudrat wassia" (In nature His presence evokes reverence).

letterschd@hindustantimes.com