Thursday, December 18, 2008

Old Man Winter

With the winter season officially beginning this weekend, many people are caught up in a bad case of the doldrums. The short days and cold winds certainly offer a bleakness that can trigger the urge to hunker down. It's the human version of hibernation, and it has a definite appeal.

I think, though, there are many aspects of this season that offer up stuff to get all warm and fuzzy about. If nothing else, the change alone provides a shift to shake up our routine and the newness adds a fresh perspective to our life. Without a blasting winter, would spring be so joyous?

I lived in San Diego for six years, and the sameness of the climate was monotonously predictable. I fiercely missed the change of seasons, and even elements of winter, like drawing faces in the frost on a window. I missed burly sweaters, the sound of footsteps on fresh snow, the smell of the first logs burning in the fireplace, and the warm sensation of rich, creamy oatmeal sitting in my stomach contrasting the blistering northern winds.

I like being able to look out the windows in my office and watch the changes unfold. While the winter landscape in my yard is not such an enthralling view, it does offer a graying canvas perfect for planning out a spring transformation.

With the apple tree baring branches, I can see the birds more clearly as they jockey for the bird feed. I have a Cardinal family that returns to my feeder every winter and their homecoming is a welcomed ritual. If I'm too late putting out the food, the bossy male squawks at me from his perch high in the tree. He's become my winter companion.

Today as I sat at my computer, a hawk swooped past the window and sat on the fence, maybe ten feet from me. I was startled, then thrilled as I sat quietly and watched his head swivel to survey the yard. He eyes eventually locked on me and after a moment's hesitation, he lifted off, leaving me with a rapidly beating heart and a lovely winter memory.

While I admit to being effected by lack of sun on dreary days, I could counter by asking is there anything more delicious than when waking to a gloomy day, simply pulling the covers up tighter and staying in a warm bed? If you don't have the luxury of doing this on a weekday, then savor the anticipation and plan for it on a weekend. Have some buttery croissants on hand to devour when you finally decide to re-enter the world. Warm bed, warm croissants - high on the guilty winter pleasure scale.

Winter gives us a chance to slow down a bit. Spring is a bustle of renewal, summer we go, go, go while the sun shines, in autumn we fill up the days because we know before too long harsh weather will drive us indoors. Now is the time to lay back, to take stock, to recharge our body, our mind, our spirit.

Like a hibernating bear, I embrace the feeling of solitude. Once the holidays pass, the opportunity to just "be" is a welcome state. No garden to tend, no family events, limited social responsibilities, just a blissfully quiet state offering time to reflect. To learn. To discover.

Grab a good book, or maybe start your journal, bundle up under grandmother's quilt, pull on the fuzzy slippers, make some hot chocolate, create a new soup, sign up for Netflix, bake bread, learn to knit, master the latest technology, design your "Treasure Map" for the new year, take an online class, practice meditation, or yoga, build a bird house, sketch out drawings of your surroundings, write a song, read poetry out loud.

And thank Old Man Winter for the offerings of the season.

No comments: