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Siegfried in Winter

Siegfried in winter is frost and wool, fire and tong. It is the sight of rabbits,

the smell of fire, the sound of ice.

Siegfried in winter is stomping your boots on the porch after a walk through the snow, your scarf, gloves, and hat laid to dry in front of the fire. It is kedgeree for dinner and mince pies for dessert while Mahalia

Jackson sings "Silent Night" on the radio.

It is last year’s Christmas tree burning in the fireplace.

It is Christmas cake with icing and sherry on a silver tray.

It is a mandarin orange in the toe of your stocking.

Siegfried in winter is a barn warmed by mule and cow, their breath and the smell of the hay mingling into the vision of a manger.

It is a fine stew on a bitterly cold January night when the moon lights up the landscape and you re-read The Turn of the Screw by lamplight.

It is Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens by your bedside, Nigel Slater and Heston Blumenthal on the television.

On New Year’s Eve, it is Alec Guinness as Smiley and “The Darkling

Thrush” at midnight.

In the bleak mid-winter, Siegfried is the memory of a barren hedge, of waxen holly, and a frozen pond as you sleep between flannel sheets. A lan-

tern lit your way home, and on the mantlepiece tapered beeswax candles greeted you.

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