Notwithstanding the events even now unfolding on the Constitution Avenue and in the Parliament, I am astir with an excitement that descends upon me every year as autumn nudges out summer heat and heralds the advent of winter. Nowhere is this change more profound than Pakistan’s Capital City nestling at the base of the Margalla Hills. The first signs that winter is afoot, begin in early September when the night air takes on a refreshing chill and the Sapiem leaves begin their annual chameleon-like act that begins with green and ends in a riot of colors ranging from ochre, pink, red and burgundy before finally fluttering to the ground.

Winters in Islamabad are long with only two months that can really be classified as scorchers. August rains bring welcome relief from the heat and evenings become progressively chilly as September turns into October. Woolies begin appearing around the end of October enabling me to win an annual wager with my eldest daughter. November is characterized by chilly breezes, which often turn gusty. It is in the months of December, January and February that the full force of the cold weather is unleashed upon citizens, bringing with it large quantities of soft hail (often misquoted as snow), gusty winds accompanied by sleet and nightly frost that covers the landscape with a thin crunchy layer of ice. March remains cold with tiny windows of warm sunshine and the appearance of buds announcing that spring is around the corner. It is however in April, that Spring engulfs Islamabad in its full grandeur. Flowers continue blooming into May, but since the past few years, this month has shown the tendency to be unpredictable with cold spells appearing out of nowhere, adding to the charisma of the Federal Capital.

At a personal level, winter happens to be my favorite time of the year, when I can conceal my fairly ample waistline in loose sweaters. This is a time when the family can get together round a bonfire, consuming barbequed meat prepared by ‘too many cooks’, who all claim to be expert chefs. Winter is also the signal for the appearance of my favorite snack – peanuts. This is one activity, where I courageously defy angry looks from the better half, the offspring and my grandchildren.

Many of my readers often put me in the foodie category and rightly so, with the correction that ‘foodiness’ descends upon me in the cold season. It is then that I ‘capture’ the kitchen to prepare my favorite menu item – soup. Needless to say that in the mayhem that accompanies my cooking, I turn the otherwise spotless premises into a mess, incurring the wrath of the real Master of the House. I am nonetheless undeterred and resolved to continue with this activity, till the kitchen is made permanently out of bounds for me.

Another winter plus is the luxury or perhaps the necessity of adopting the time tested system of working fire places. I have lumped this activity in the necessity column because my rural existence gives me access to deadwood that I can burn as fuel, since electricity tariffs are now getting beyond my means. I am toying with the idea of using solar power, but am deterred by the cost and the number of sunless days. Having a log fire in my room is also a great way to bond with grandchildren, who have become expert ‘fire starters’ (no linkage intended with a movie of the same name).

One of my children has suggested that I should form a ‘Winter Lovers Association’ to give formal recognition to the Season of all Seasons. I am turning over the suggestion in my mind and trying to figure out if the advice was seriously given or otherwise.

    The writer is a historian.