“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
~ Lewis Carroll
These days, I’m positively in love with winter. I adore the spectacle of the sunbeams shining low through the branches of trees stripped bare by the cold, the laboured flow of partially frozen streams, the glittering, frosty sidewalks and crisp, clean air. I also enjoy the long, cosy nights by the fire and feeling grateful for the warmth in my little home. And oh, hot chocolate with cinnamon!
These last few days, it’s been snowing where I live and today Dakota and I hiked up a hill to venture deeper into the white wilderness. The snow crunching beneath my feet and the ecstatic rampage of the snow-ploughing puppy (snow is SO exciting!) were an intimate reminder of the innocence and joy that can be found in magical winter moments. This particular hill is usually a very quiet place (I have literally yet to meet another person on this route, ever), but the footprints in the snow revealed that other people, dogs, deer, sheep and wild birds had walked the path not long before us. On the summit, draped in white, the stillness became a sanctuary. It was sublime.
Mind you, I haven’t always felt this way about the coldest season. I’m well aware that the winter months are a tough time for many people. Making it through the cold and dark times until the clocks finally change back to summer time can be an endurance challenge, even for those who don’t suffer from downright seasonal affective disorder. I also used to dread the winter and, once it was upon me, would simply put my head down (metaphorically speaking) and wait until it was finally over. And the winters in Scotland are long and dark. For me, it took three conscious decision to change my attitude towards winter over time:
I fell in love with the beauty of winter. Rather than just writing off everything to do with winter as a calamity that could only be survived, I decided to consciously celebrate any snippets of it I do enjoy. Hot chocolate was top of the list, quickly followed by warm slippers. Christmas markets. Running in the dark, silent streets – when the drumming of my own feet on the pavements are the only sounds I hear. The way the ice glitters in the light. Watching snow as it falls. Crystal-clear nights for watching the stars. Icicles. Empty beaches, frozen solid. Deer in the snow. It turned out that that there were a lot of things I already really loved about winter!
I kept/keep heading outdoors. In addition to the wise saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing, my mother always used to tell me that I’m not made of sugar whenever it was raining. I find real joy in going outside in all conditions these days, whether this means allowing the heat of the sun to lick my bare skin in summer or braving wild winter storms. The natural world is always full of wonders, but I must go outside to experience and find them!
I honour that I need rest and that winter is the perfect time to recuperate. Okay, I know that I’m not really a bear that needs to hibernate, but based on the amount of sleep I seem to need in winter, I do wonder sometimes… The world most certainly retreats in winter; I only need to look at the bare trees to be reminded of their resting state. I now accept that my relatively lower energy levels in winter are perfectly normal and healthy. I know that problems only occur if I don’t take the time to rest and try to go on with the same gusto and bounce in my step as I feel in the spring.
I still don’t like wet feet, or the moments when my hands are so cold they actually hurt when I’m out feeding my horse. I also cringe when I get snow in my ears and the amount of times it takes my feet to get warm in bed at night can seriously test my patience. But all things considered, winter is a welcome guest and good friend in my life nowadays.
How about you? What are your thoughts, wonders and pearls of wisdom on winter?