I read the term "wintering through" somewhere recently, and it perfectly described for me that thing we all do as the days grow colder. We find our strategy for dealing with the dark and the wind and the rain, for the workloads and the germs, for the over-busy and the over-quiet. Heads down, we winter through. And if we adopt the right attitude, take care of ourselves and don't over load ourselves with work, nor fill ourselves with fear when things are still, we can find all the beauty in this season. There is much about it that must be endured, but so much more about it that can be enjoyed.
I am a lover of Winter, when the dark bookends to our days are full of divine pleasures. I wake early, something I have no choice about since I got one of those toddler alarm clocks without a snooze function. I pull on my wool socks and my aran cardigan, go downstairs and make the coffee. Everything is dark and quiet. I light the candles, pour water and orange essential oil in the burner and sit down. Sometimes Rory occupies herself, leaving me to journal, go through my emails and write my to do list for the day. More frequently, she dances naked on the table, shouting "mama, knee!" or making up a song about toast. I relent, and do her bidding, continuing to work with her on my knee (an occupational hazard) or making the breakfast.
As the days grow cold, I see my home start to change. Out come the blankets, the sheepskins I rescued from a junk shop that I scrubbed and hair-dried for hours while heavily pregnant. Fairy lights creep in around the banisters and windows, I smell cinnamon and cloves and chocolate. There's shepherd's pie in the oven, leek and potato soup simmering in the pot, and the freezer is filling up with meals for when our small flat is overrun with family. Christmas is coming, but slowly. Just the way I like it.
At this time of year, it almost always feels like an effort to go outside. Especially when the going outside is preceded by half an hour of chasing a mischievous toddler around while trying to put clothes on them. It should be an olympic sport, it requires such skill, strength and patience. We have a dog, and no garden, something I complain about daily, but strangely it ends up being the thing I am most grateful for, because it gets us out the door. Even when the sky is grey, the wind is cold and the ground is wet, we still have to go to the park. Sometimes we catch first light, or last light, or the raindrops lingering on the leaves, a rat running into the bushes or a squirrel burying something in the ground. Life happens all around us, and it always makes me glad we left the warmth of our kitchen.
As soon as Rory asks to go to the park, as she often does, I am quick to take her up on it. The outdoors is her playground, and who can blame her when there's so much to explore. She plays hide and seek between the leaves, chases squirrels and licks rain drops off anything she can. I hope she always wants to walk with me, to get bundled up in all her layers and go outside to look at the plants. I suppose if I still enjoy it at 33, she might like it for a little while longer yet. This blonde-haired, blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked kiddo of mine.
So here's to the cold days, and to leaving the warmth of our homes to get out into them as much as we can. If only for the way it feels when we come back inside. Boots off, kettle on...