|Winter – The barren look of the trees, the rare sunshine and the still remaining
colors of fall.
This morning while driving to school, my daughter said “Look mumma, no pumpkin in the pumpkin patch.” I told her its time for Christmas trees now. That and the weather outside reminded me that winter is slowly setting in. It is getting colder. The rare warmth of the sun on the back is such a treat especially because here winter is rainy. Some fall colors are still there, though the leaves have started shedding. And yes, the pumpkin patches have been emptied and are getting ready for the Christmas trees.
Winter always reminds me of my childhood, don’t know why. The earliest memory is of my kindergarten days when my childhood friend and I would spend the entire afternoons on the narrow stair case between our homes eating fresh tomatoes and oranges and soaking a lot of sun and oh course giggling(we can never have enough of that). Not sure though if she remembers any of that.
Growing up we lived in very remote places in India. My Dad’s work demanded that. Life was very different (or simpler) from how it may have been in a city or how it is now.Now winter means Pashminas, Cashmeres, Winter Boots& Coats, cups of hot latte and the sinful holiday desserts. Back then none of this existed for us.
One such place was Kahalgaon (Bihar) with extremely chilly winters and the best winter produce that I can remember till date. There was no concept of cold storages, tinned and canned food in those days. Produce was seasonal. And winter meant an abundance of carrots, parsnips, green peas, cabbage, tomatoes, and oranges. I could just go on and on. Ma(My mother) spent much of her time cooking and preserving. I remember the bottles of home made pickled veggies and ketchup (yes not kidding). The only time of the year ma made soups or gajar ka halwa (carrot dessert). And If Dida (grandmother) came over she made the most amazing korai shutir kochuri (pea’s kachori) and aloo-kopir singada (samosa with potato and cauliflower filling).
I used to dread the early morning walks to the school with every bone in the body shivering. Thankfully they closed the schools for a week or two. Winter vacations, delectable food, hand knit woolens and the warmth of the Ma’s shawls (I still steal some from her every year) is what I remember most of those winters. Much of the holiday homework would be done in the bed tucked in the rajai (duvet). Give this, I remain amazed at how my dad would remain undeterred by the weather and ride in an open jeep to the power plant and spent most part of his day there.
My friend and her brother are a big part this memory and so is Kakima. Kakima (if you have not guessed is my friend’s mother) was Ma’s companion in all the pickling, preserving and bottling. In the afternoon’s they would sit in the sun knitting the woolens and sipping tea. Somehow of all the wonderful things Kakima used to and still cooks, I strangely remember her bandhakopir torkari(a dish made of cabbage) the most. Even now when I cook cabbage, I wonder what she added to it. Potatoes and Cabbage cooked together, very lightly spiced and a bit of sweetness to it. I never quite get the same taste.
A few years later, winter was in a cold desert town called Pilani. The walks from the hostel dorm to the bathroom during those cold nights made us even contemplate on something simple as nature’s call. Every morning at the crack of dawn, a big metal container (the one like you see at construction sites) would be put on a brick oven to heat bath water for the girls. We queued up freezing in our pyjamas with buckets in hand to get that half bucket of hot bath water every morning. (I can so much picture it still. Wish there was iPhone then!). It was during those years, one winter we the marching band girls walked on Rajpath for the republic day parade and if not anyone else we did ourselves proud. Not many pictures of that too.
If I go any further it will get past my childhood.But if you were part of these memories I am sure I helped you re-live some of those. And if you were not, I am sure you have your own memories that you are thinking of right now.
As for me, I have decided to make myself a cup of hot adrak chai(Ginger Tea).And while I do so, I see my two young children, decked in hand knit woolens, standing with their nose pressed to the glass patio door and pretending to touch the rain drops that hang on to the other side of the door. Rain will be an integral part of their winter memories.
Story and Picture Credit : Piya Mukherjee. One of her favorite winter posts from her personal blog that she wrote up until a few years back.