Last Wednesday felt like the first proper day of winter, to me.
I met up with my new-found locally-based, like-minded blogger pal, Ella, and, making the most of our Zone 6 scenery, we headed to one of the beautiful nature spots in our “endz”.
In the morning, it had tipped down with rain, almost apoplectically so, which was fitting given the tempestuous political climate that day as Trump was announced President-elect of the United States.
Even though the sun started to inch out at lunchtime, the wind (#Trump) didn’t let up and it was bracingly cold, especially along the waterfront. I had to hold onto my hat (which some of you may have seen on Instagram, here)!
I’ve historically found getting through winter difficult. Autumn has a gorgeous golden glow about it, and while the air is refreshingly cool and crisp, it’s still warm enough to wear light layers and not having to leave the house looking like the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.
Winter can seem barren and bleak in comparison. Daylight diminishes and so the amount of time spent in darkness increases. It’s dark now by four o’clock in the afternoon, game over.
But while I’m recovering from a year (and the rest!) of auto-immune conditions, and surrendering to the signs my body is giving me to just stop, recoup and recover, I’m embracing the idea of ‘seasonal healing’.
Most ancient spiritual wisdom centres on the cyclical shifts in seasonal energies, which reflect our own bodily rhythms. In the natural world, winter is the season of restoration.
Animals hibernate. Trees shed their leaves. Flowers fade away. Nature slows down, simplifies.
Winter has a ‘bare-bones’ beauty all of its own, with stark silhouettes, heavy evergreen hues and crystal blue afternoons. There’s a cool stillness that is sombre and peaceful. The smell of wood-fire is in the air. This restful idleness is needed so that spring can be green and grow again.
Yet most of us live obliviously to the Earth’s cycles. In Western culture we tend to push winter away by switching on the lights, cranking up the central heating, chugging copious amounts of caffeine and generally carrying on business as usual. No wonder it’s the season of being sick – we’re all doing too much!
Lately, as I start to recover from my own illnesses, I’ve become increasingly attracted to the natural environment. It’s like a deep, biological urge to connect for survival. I like to go on long walks like this one by the lake, to take inspiration from the wildlife, and learn my lessons from the animal. Right now, they’re preparing to hibernate and nest. Technically it’s still Autumn until Winter Solstice on 22nd December, but for me it starts as soon as the nights draw in…
On this walk I was wearing my new winter boots – a gift from Debenhams, who let me choose from their huge array of winter shoes and boots. I opted for beautiful black ankle boots in the softest suede and my favoured Western style, that will weather the storms to see me through this season and beyond. Funnily enough, in keeping with the theme of nature, the style is called ‘Spider’ – the only arachnid I’ve ever cared for.
After our stroll, Ella and I cosied up in the nearby cafe, clutching steaming cups of soya lattes and sharing our innermost thoughts as the hours whiled away.
I’m starting to appreciate the wonder of winter:
It is bracing winds and dark leaden skies. It is spiky silhouettes and soft woollen layers.
It is steaming mugs of hot coffee and spicy lentil stews. It is the crisp crunch of your boots on snow, and slow days on the sofa at home.
It is branches of bright berries and the red breast of a robin. It is twinkling fairy lights and roaring fires.
It is planting seeds and letting go. It is making plans. It is dark, secret and hopeful.
So rest. Revive. Renew. Embrace your seasons.
Photos: Ella Masters