I get along just fine with the rest of the seasons, but winter is my bugaboo. We’re in a constant tussle.
It hasn’t always been that way. For most of my life, it was a given that I’d bounce out of bed, dress, and head outside in winter just as in every other season. I never minded, barely gave it a thought. In fact, if I had a least favorite season, it wouldn’t have been winter as it is for many, but summer—often too hot for me, even in our relatively cool mountain climate. And definitely too humid.
But it’s been different for the last five winters. If you know me well, you know that timeline matches the number of years since I left the world of employment. In all this time, I still haven’t learned how to get comfortable with this season. I can’t seem to find my rhythm. It’s not that there aren’t plenty of things to do. Winter calls me to certain tasks—I just don’t always hear the voice. It’s a little too easy to curl up and forget to uncurl.
If I don’t absolutely have to, I find that I’m disinclined to pull on snow boots and wrap myself up in a knit cap, heavy gloves, wool scarf, and a quilted coat that makes me look like the Michelin Man all for sake of stepping outdoors. Frankly, it’s hard for me to imagine anyone other than a winter sports enthusiast voluntarily making that effort only to be accosted by frigid temperatures, cold wind and sleet blasting your face while your freezing, boot-clad tootsies struggle to safely navigate ice and snow. It seems so … unnecessary. Why not just stay indoors under a nice fluffy comforter with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book?
I think I must be part bear. Winter fills me with an urge to go primal. With days that are shorter and often grayer, my instinct to hibernate is strong. I want my comfort foods. I want my warm blankie. I want a rest after three seasons of outdoor physical labor.
Still, winter has a lot going for it: it’s a contemplative season. It’s the perfect time for all those things that were set aside when the days were longer and the sun shone brighter, those days that were filled with the frenzy of planting, growing, harvesting, and preserving the garden and the challenging, seemingly never-ending task of home renovation. No, winter’s the time for reading, writing, thinking, playing, visiting, learning a new skill, playing a musical instrument, making gifts, knitting and crocheting, solving puzzles, putting all those snapshots into albums and scrapbooks, organizing that last cabinet. The list goes on.
Here we are again, winter and I—pulling at each other’s hair, scrapping like puppies over a bone. So far, our sixth post-retirement season together is stacking up to be just like the previous five. I’ve appreciated being able to stay in bed until the sun comes up and not having to travel icy roads to get to work. It’s a joy not to be tethered to a rigid schedule of someone else’s making. But a little self-imposed structure isn’t a bad thing. December’s fine for chilling out, playing, and connecting. But December’s long gone and already January is about to join it in the land of past tense.
I’m tired of the sluggishness. I know, it’s all my fault. Winter is just being winter. I’m the one who has to make some changes. And I’m ready. So, here I am, Winter. Ready to embrace you and your chilly rhythms. Ready to pull on my bulky coat and snow boots and get myself outside every single day. A brisk walk in the bracing cold should give me the energy to get a little cleaning and organizing done before starting in on writing or some other mental floss, followed by an afternoon break for cooking up something delectable. Sounds like a plan.
When I feel keyed in to Nature’s patterns, I’m more whole—and more wholly in the moment. I think we’re meant to slow down a bit in winter, but not to shut down. Surely, I can get outside and have my hot chocolate, too.