Here in the UK, the first frosts can turn up any time in the autumn, but represent a significant shift towards the winter. In terms of being something to celebrate, I admit to mixed feelings. The coming of the frost is an important part of the wheel of the year, but it means moving into cold and hardship.

 Frost is of course beautiful. It sparkles on grasses, leaves and spiderwebs, creating delicate beauty and catching the first light of the day. Today, with the first frost in my little corner of the world, the fields were iced at first light, giving them a sheen of mystery and otherworldliness.

However, as someone who isn’t as firm on their feet as they want to be, the slipping, sliding, falling hazard of frost, and the ice that may follow it, fills me with dread. If I slip, I am likely to fall (weak ankles) and falls mean injury, and panic, and things I could really do without. There are a lot of people who share these problems, and for whom the pretty surface is treacherous. It’s not easy to enjoy celebrating something that can do you real harm.

Winter can be beautiful. It can be wild, intense. It is always worthy of our respect. Frost comes after a clear night, usually heralding a bright, crisp morning full of amazing light. But, a clear night is a cold night, and for people obliged to chose between heating and eating, for people who are ill, or homeless, or otherwise vulnerable, those very cold nights just pile on the misery. Sometimes, they kill.

If you are in a position to enjoy and celebrate first frosts, please remember that others around you may not be. Winter is a time for warmth and hospitality, and if you enjoy abundance, see what you can do to share a little of that bounty with others. If you enjoy celebrating this time of year, please avoid criticising or shaming those who don’t – people in poverty or suffering physical ailments aren’t always visible at a glance, nor are people whose mental health suffers in the shorter days. I’ve lived through years when the winters were simply a nightmare, no one should have to have that made worse by feeling like a Pagan-fail for not being able to get out there and joyfully dance with the spirits of the season.

 

 

Photo c. Tom  Brown shows Nimue Brown and James Colvin at Nympsfield barrow one Christmas morning.