by Màiri Norris
As a writer of historical romance, large portions of my heart, mind and soul linger in the past, subject – as many are – to that foolish notion of the “romance of the past” [oh, wasn’t it romantic back then?]
For most of us today winter is, at worst, an inconvenience rather than a dark, seemingly endless struggle for survival. I suspect if I actually traveled into the past, I would quickly discover the good old days were not so “good” as nostalgia paints, especially in the heart of winter, and come home as quickly as possible!
To be fair, those who lived in earlier times had no notion of how much easier life would be for their many times removed descendents.
I’ve often tried to imagine what it would be like to have to slog outside in deep snow to get water from a stream or a well (if I was fortunate enough to have access to a well), or need to break ice to retrieve the water and then have to heat it over a fire to melt and warm it. What would it be like to depend on a smoky wood, coal or peat fire, one that I had to build myself, to keep warm or to cook food? I already know how hard it is to accomplish any kind of work with nothing but candlelight or firelight to see by – not fun.
Travel in winter was even worse. Most folks didn’t, even those who possessed a means of transportation and halfway decent roads. Or imagine standing watch on a stockade wall. Brrrrr…. flirtation with frostbite.
Still, I like to imagine our ancestors, when the quest for survival gave them a few moments pause, appreciated the same beauties in winter that I see: the reflection of the sun on untrammeled snow, the deep, wondrous quiet, the purity of the air, the natural “sculptures” created by snow and ice. It is this allure of the season I seek to bring into my stories.
In olden days, as in ours, they had much to appreciate about the heart of winter, including time to evaluate the past and consider the future. It is a time of anticipation for the beginning of the new year and what we might achieve if fate and fortune allows.
As this new year begins, I offer the hope that at least some of the dreams we’ve each looked for and worked toward in 2017 will come true in 2018.
Happy New Year!