Years ago, when I was about to take everything I owned and move to London, friends warned me. "It's dark," they said. "And rainy. Always dark and raining. It will affect your mood. Be careful."
Turns out that I liked the dark -- it was always darkest around Christmastime, and which just made all the twinkle lights around the pubs and buildings and streets glow even brighter. And then as soon as Christmas passed, the skies would begin to get noticeably brighter every day, until summer nights stayed light until almost 10. I liked the dark, while it lasted.
And the rain was fine. I admit that at first, it was a bit shocking, but eventually, you dress for it, and you get used to it. It gets to the point where you barely notice it, really. The rain never bothered me. Rain is part of London's charm.
But I confess that I never got used to the cold. I was cold all the time, and the fact that I lived in a basement flat didn't make it any easier. When I moved to London, I had grand plans of visiting all the European cities I could during any spare moment, but the truth was that as soon as I had time off, I headed south: Caymans. Canaries. Even Houston. Anywhere I could sweat -- I actually missed sweating. My new English friends would laugh at me and my sweaters and scarves, grumbling about my numb feet. I hated the cold.
But every year, when I felt like I couldn't possibly stand the cold anymore, wild daffodils would begin to appear: in gardens, in office parks, just along the side of the road. Against the grey, damp cold, they were always a happy surprise, a sign of better, warmer things ahead.
This year it has been unseasonably cold, even for Houston -- our fireplace has seen far more action than it usually does, and we've even had a few days of school closings due to ice, almost unheard of in this part of the world. And we've had it relatively easy: our friends in the northern part of the United States have been positively pummeled by brutal winter weather. It's not just America, either -- even family in England tell us that they've never seen weather quite like the kind they've been experiencing over the past few months. It's like Old Man Winter lost his mind this year.
But yesterday I ran out to the store to grab some milk, and as I passed through the flower section, I noticed a new display of daffodils. They were shocking yellow and they were glorious, and I had the same familiar pang of happy surprise when I saw them. Oh, they're in season again? I thought. Well, that's a good sign.
So take heart, friends: as bleak as it may seem where you are, the daffodils never lie. Something warmer this way surely comes.