Looking out of the sitting room window this morning on to my garden, I see that I still have some flowers - schizostyllus, Christmas roses, roses both in my tubs by the door and on the climber on the wall, Winter jasmine, violas and a few bedraggled primroses. I look at them and feast on the sight.
I think this is because I need an assurance that, however much the calendar tells me otherwise, Spring is not all that far away.
I look out of the bedroom window before I get up in the mornings at this time of year and search for signs that the mornings are getting just a little bit lighter - two and a half weeks since the shortest day so I should soon be able to detect something. The same thing happens in the evenings, when the farmer is out giving the dogs their last walk of the day. He has begun to comment, if the sky is clear, that the days are lengthening (he usually adds that old adage from round here 'as the days lengthen the storms strengthen').
Has it always been thus? As a small child I lived in a house where central heating had not been heard of; we had electric light but that was all. My mother cooked on an open range with a side oven, and when we went to bed we took a stone hot water bottle or an oven shelf wrapped in a bit of old sheeting. To wash in the morning we had a jug and bowl in the bedroom on a washstand. The jug was filled with warm water at night and if it had a film of ice on it in the morning then we would use the still slightly warm water from our hot water bottle for washing.
So I ask you - have we got soft? Did Stone Age people long for the warmer, lighter days - or did they take Winter in their stride and just add another couple of layers of furs? Do we just turn up the central heating rather than add another layer of clothing?
The farmer is very philosophical about the weather - his stock comment is "we 've just got to take what comes." I shiver and freeze and chicken out of taking the dog for a walk if the weather is really bad.
Up here in the Yorkshire Dales we have got off lightly so far - no flooding, nowhere near tidal surges, as yet no snow (touch wood) and I feel for those folk who are living in flooded areas.
I for one will continue to search the garden for the first snowdrops. They are beginning to push through their tiny blue/green spears and one or two are showing white buds, their flowers as yet only hinted at.
I shall not buy any more Winter woollies - my eyes are firmly fixed on Spring.