Winter has arrived.
Like an unwelcome knock on an old door my mood dials to tense.
I have come to dislike winter. A chill in my bones that no fleece can thaw. My legs, my toes, my joints, my nose - reacting anxiously to the enveloping dark and the gradual decrease in temperature.
Cold. Colder. Coldest.
Robert Louis Stevenson in his poem, Winter-Time wrote:
"Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding cake."
Yet my relationship with the coldest months was not always this way.
IN OTHER NEWS:
The frost frequently experienced during winter mornings on Trevallyn Oval meant that big blokes would be slower, perhaps even timid as they were unable to stop their 'wheels' from spinning - perfect conditions for small packages determined to score goals.
Saturday soccer mornings included a chore for the earliest riser to fire up our stubborn oil heater and place Penetrene 'A' Liniment (purchased to ease our horses' strains) mixed with Deep Heat to warm before application.
In many ways this approach was ahead of its time with supple legs and a layer of protection the result of a pre-game massage.
However, I strongly doubt you will see this remedy being employed during the 2021 season on frosty mornings at Churchill Park where compression pants and mittens repel the cold and, of course, are on pointe.
When working from Hobart, kunanyi/Mt Wellington reminds me that the hair I cannot see on top of my head is no longer there.
Unsurprisingly, this chill atop my noggin has become progressively more noticeable during the past decade. It must be time to go flat cap - the full Thomas Shelby - the full Peaky Blinders.
To be fair, we are even parochial about weather in Tasmania.
"It is soooo cold in Hobart....," I sarcastically offer, instantly followed by a retort delivered with icy cold revenge.
"It must be great being away from the smog ..."
On the drive to the state's capital, I often stop at Epping Forest with the 'truckies' who are decorated with hi-vis.
We interact sociably and, even though my designer overcoat renders me different, we have the same purpose - arriving safely at our destination.
Comedian Billy Connolly told us: "There's no such thing as bad weather - only the wrong clothes".
Nonetheless, once upon a 25-plus years ago, I would have agreed.
However, I am now of the view that minus four degrees Celsius should be met with a blasting furnace, not an extra layer.
Hawthorn hedges, both deciduous and evergreen, pines, oaks, and poplars line the Midland Highway.
With many varieties shedding their leaves, it's pretty in autumn, but barren and miserable during the winter months.
The natives such as plentiful gum trees thumb their noses, leaning in to avoid the wind, almost as if instructing the English colonisers to harden up.
And then there are the dead.
Dead trees form a formidable foreground set against a belt of low-lying cloud like a fashionable buckle on a trench coat holding in a winter midriff prone to hibernation.
There is even a dead tree painted blue that reminds us to be kind.
The tinge of brown remaining on the ground, or the unusual burnt paddocks set against the orange hue of a rising sun creates a spectacular vista.
But then the pea-soup confusion, not ordered with morning coffee, hits just after Campbell Town.
The next hour is like the Atari 2600 videogame, ENDURO that we 'clocked' (finished) one evening locked in our shared bedroom taking turns with mates.
The car lights would appear through various driving conditions from fog to snow to pouring rain to sunny days with sharp reflexes and a wonky joystick central to success.
Thankfully and unlike ENDURO, the commuter and commercial traffic is not encountered on my side of the highway. High or low beam does not really matter as you struggle to see 50 metres in front of your bonnet. The fog is your company keeping you focused and alert. The podcast is not quite as closely noted as full concentration is required to make careful progress.
The shift to fog is drastic compared to the crisp morning sun when you see ewes preparing to lamb.
It's a troubling anomaly for those not of the land, in the depths of winter when all babies should be warm and snuggled and not born on frosty dirt floors.
The smog is not a great environment for those with breathing difficulties.
The wood heaters that state governments once bought back have alarmingly returned, spewing smoke across the valley.
Over many years, the question "have you thought about moving to Queensland" has been one of the most frequently offered pieces of doctors' advice.
Alas, we battle on with puffers and preventers and protocols that rule the day.
Emily Bronte concluded in her poem, Spellbound:
"Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go."
Anyhow, another week, another early morning, on the road again ... push those shoulders back.
- Brian Wightman is a former attorney-general and school principal.