The other day talking with a friend in Karachi, I told him that we were already draped in woollies and spending our evenings munching dry fruit. His response was wistful, to say the least, conveying the distinct impression of envy and perhaps a tinge of regret. I was proved right moments later when he said that he was coming north just so that his family could enjoy the cold weather.

I consider myself lucky and grateful to God that I spend much of my time in an area, which amply satisfies my love of pine covered hills and frosty (sometimes snowy) winters. My affair with pale yellow sunshine, rolling banks of mist and freezing winds stems from bygone days and childhood memories. I am often criticized for wasting my retirement funds in a small stone house and a rustic lifestyle, but quite frankly I wouldn’t dream of spending life in a metropolis with its pollution and noise.

Cool weather in my world arrives somewhere by the end of August and lasts till April or sometimes until early May. As September turns into October, the temperature drops with each passing week. With November, come the prospects of crackling fireplaces. This means weekend fun trips to collect pine cones that act as excellent tinder.

December and January are my two favorite months. The family sits around the fireplace shelling peanuts, seeing old photos and simply yarning about things trivial, while a freezing wind howls outside the windows. Many of these evenings turn into traditional dinners eaten off a ‘dastarkhwan’ spread in front of the fire. These meals are simple yet memorable, especially, when members of the extended family join us for the weekend. February and March are months, where frosty weather is interspersed with sunny days heralding the advent of Spring.

It is in April and early May that nature showcases its beauty through a riot of colors as a myriad of flowers burst into bloom.

As I sit in front of a cheery log fire staring into the dancing flames, I see a kaleidoscopic parade of images from my childhood. As trees in our family home began shedding their leaves and evenings became pleasantly chilly, my mother would generate hectic activity in the house. Heavy wooden trunks would be unlocked to disclose winter clothing and bedding stored amongst ‘neem’ leaves at the beginning of summer in the previous year. While this was happening, the two ‘pathan’ brothers, who ran the nearby woodpile or ‘taal’, would begin dumping dry logs to be burned in the fireplaces.

Our daily menu also underwent a change. ‘Panjeeree’ was prepared and stored in small tin canisters, while nightcaps like ‘doodhi’ and ‘Hareera’ became a regular feature. These concoctions were forced upon unwilling children, in order to keep cold weather ailments at bay.

The dining table usually became redundant during the winter months and we looked forward to having meals, while sitting on the carpet before a warm fireplace. Kashmiri Tea replaced black tea at breakfast and ‘kulchas’ made their regular appearance at weekend morning meals, which were dotted now and again by an eating orgy – thanks to Sami Dehalvi’s Nehari. When this menu was on cards, bedsteads were positioned in the sun on our side lawn and the Nehari container was placed on a portable coal stove in the middle. It was considered appropriate to gorge oneself on this fiery curry and then indulge in an on the spot well-deserved siesta.

This cold weather routine was nothing unique, for in the days gone by, the arrival of cold weather was celebrated by many families in a similar manner. While I continue to follow this seasonal activity, I am told that the practice has died down elsewhere. Perhaps it is life in the corporate fast lane that puts a premium on time or the reasons are more earthy i.e. economics. Whatever these may be, the arrival of Jack Frost is welcomed in my family with traditional propriety.