Today is the last day of winter as the meteorological office measures these things. The cold air from Russia is being pushed back (finally) by the warm air from Spain. As we’re much (much) closer to Spain than we are to Siberia, the effects are almost immediate, with the first snow of the year falling as the two fronts battle it out.

Today is also Rare Diseases Day. The two, cold and rare disease, go hand in hand for me. I have a rare disease, an orphan disease, known to its friends as Cold Agglutinin Disease, the workings of which are too complicated for me to have really delved into. Not a lack of curiosity, more a resignation that there’s nothing to be done about it so why waste time working out how it works. Even the spellchecker doesn’t recognize it as a real word. As one specialist told me, ‘You’re not dead yet so it can’t be that serious’. Thanks a bunch.

It went undiagnosed for fourteen years, nine of them spent in the worst possible place for this condition—the north east of France, where the winters are long and bitter. By the time I found a doctor who actually knew what I was suffering from, we had moved down south out of an instinct for survival, and my health was picking up. I hate and fear the cold, even very mild cold, because it turns toes and fingers red and painfull, and eventually black and dead at the tips, because my red blood cells die, because my chronic anemia deepens, and because I get mortally tired and depressed.

I am lucky though. I have this condition all on its own. The vast majority of sufferers have it as a sideline to something more important. Most sufferers get very ill. I don’t. My CAD came out of the blue and doesn’t seem to have dragged any other ailments with it. As long as I’m warm/hot, I’m fine. But I hate the winter, hate the cold, and feel so very sorry for anyone and anything that doesn’t have a warm place to curl up in.


Grey sky tosses snow

a bitter rain falling—realm

of hunger and cold.







Ghost tree, the silvery poplar
When the north wind sharpens its edge
And bends the boughs along the bank
And ruffles its hand through the sedge.
Ghostly the voices that murmur
In the branches that scratch at the eaves
The sedge sighs and whispers in sadness
To the poplars’ wind-rattled leaves.
The high tide carries wild voices
When the wind scatters silvery frost
But only the poplars listen
And repeat the songs of the lost.
The countryfolk hear the lamenting
In the north wind and stop their ears
Gainst the keening that wails through the poplars
The death songs that nobody hears.

The wind in the poplars


The wind from the sea
Soughs in the trees
Its sinister hiss
Like the song of the surf
As it rakes through the debris
Left by the tides
And spits out the pebbles
That stick in its craw.
Wind shakes the branches
Playing the dirge
Of drowned souls and dead stones
Full fathom five
Where cold water rolls
And above the wind cries
With their voice in the leaves
To the wide open sky.