The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelp'd by any wind.
From 'Frost at Midnight' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 - 1834On Tuesday Jack Frost painted intricate patterns on our conservatory roof. His mastery of the icy brush is sublime and astonishing.
Before homes were centrally heated, when the one source of heat in the house was a coal fire in the communal sitting room it was fun to toast crumpets on the end of a long toasting fork, roast chestnuts, throw salt on the fire to see the flames flare briefly in a gorgeous show of dazzling greens and blues. It was homely and companionable to sit close to the fire although I knew I risked scorching my legs and developing chilblains on my hands and feet. I tried to hoard the warmth in my body like a storage heater to sustain me as I scurried out into the arctic extremities of the rest of the house, filled my hot water bottle and dashed to bed in my freezing room. The sheets felt glacial as I tucked my feet up inside my nightdress, turning myself into a foetal entity in a cheerless womb. Gradually, the bed became warmer, I relaxed and slept and stretched, to wake hours later to the unpleasant sensation of cold flabby rubber, unless, of course, there was a cosy cover on my hot water bottle.