Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Trollied Tuesday: Ice in the heart

Here's that rarest of things, an article in the Telegraph I whole-heartedly commend. It's Christopher Howse on the joys of cold, properly cold weather. Here's just a sample:

But a walk in the winter woods is more than health therapy or a chance to stock up on firewood. At best it is an opportunity to discover that sharp, stark weather is not bad weather. It is the way things are, and should be made the best of. That is what the Book of Common Prayer implies by its biblical canticle of comic praise: "O ye Frost and Cold, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify him for ever. O ye Ice and Snow, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify him for ever."

Just so, there is something invigorating, life-affirming about feeling the smart of an icy blast on one's skin, to starting the blood with a walk through the snow. In similar fashion, when it gets very cold I start to yearn for extremely cold drinks.

It might be an ice cold lager - German for preference; a good dry white; maybe even, now that Christmas and New Year are safely past, a fizz. Best of all though is to copy the Russians. Now they do now how to drink in cold weather (if one ignores the whole getting so paralytically drunk that you fall down in the snow and freeze to death thing). I always like to keep a bottle of vodka in the freezer, now is the time to remove it.

A quite shot of the stuff neat will chill and then thrill. When drunk in the outdoors its effect is enhanced, by embracing the cold (internalising one might say were it not a little too literal) you'll come alive in a vivid, bright winter's day.

Really, the closer to freezing the drink the better (Absolut Zero, if you like). Ideally you should clutch in a gloved hand a glass made of ice from which to down a shot or two of pepper vodka (NB it also goes well in bloody mary). No better combination of ice and fire exists. It is an element combination worthy of the frost-bound sensuality of Keats's The Eve of St Agnes.

Soon, trembling in her soft and chilly nest, 235
In sort of wakeful swoon, perplex’d she lay,
Until the poppied warmth of sleep oppress’d
Her soothed limbs, and soul fatigued away;
Flown, like a thought, until the morrow-day;
Blissfully haven’d both from joy and pain; 240
Clasp’d like a missal where swart Paynims pray;
Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain,
As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again.

NB: St Agnes Eve is Jan 20. I have no doubt that, in a couple of weeks, if I were to go breaking into girls' bedrooms bedrooms to watch them as they sleep, the police will readily appreciate the aesthetic intention behind my actions.

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