This is the title of one of my favourite Kronos Quartet CDs featuring a beautiful piece by Aulis Sallinen. The title is particularly apt - I am having a hard winter. My mother has been diagnosed with lung cancer and at 84 years of age there is little point trying to treat the disease. As I write this I am sitting in a hospice, the sun is shining, the spring flowers are just about ready to pop up. My mother is drifting in a cloud of morphine and I am trying to keep my head above water in a sea of sadness. I met an old friend on the train yesterday and I filled him in on what was happening in my life. He asked me if I felt like writing music, as some way of dealing with all of this. Not yet, I said. I feel a need to listen to music but only very particular things. Today it is Morton Feldman's Rothko Chapel. Nothing too jagged or unsettled. At least I can listen to music. My mother's partial deafness and foggy head make listening to music pointless. She cannot focus or concentrate to read. Even getting out of bed to sit in the almost-spring sunshine is beyond her today. And winter continues to be hard.