I started thinking about writing this post after listening to a podcast, in which the topic was winter, and how we should use nature and being outside to help us through the long winter months. I can get behind that – particularly if I’m not feeling my best, nature can really help to lift my spirits – whatever the season. It grounds me somehow.
I’m possibly in the minority in that I’m not really a summer person! Yes, I like to be outside in the sunshine, but I don’t like getting burned and I get bored just lying around in the sun.
My favourite season is autumn, but winter is ok for me too.
I know it’s easy for me to say that because I have warm clothes, I can put the heating on if I want, and I don’t have to trudge to work in all weathers as I used to. I’m aware not all people have these things and I don’t take them for granted.
But I’m talking about a more basic level of learning to make the best of and appreciate all the seasons, rather than wanting summer all year round.
One of my students moved from Europe to a climate where there isn’t really much variation in the weather from month to month, and she misses the changing of the seasons. I think I would miss the transitions too, even if our weather has been a bit erratic in recent years.
When I was a child, we always walked to school. In the morning, there was no other option. My Granddad needed the car for work, so my Nan and I had to walk. In the afternoon, my Granddad would pick me up, and we usually walked then too. Occasionally, if it was raining hard, he might bring the car, but otherwise, we walked.
It was quality time. We didn’t always talk, but we enjoyed the company, and the nature. The smells of freshly-cut grass, or the distinctive smells of the trees that showed me where on our route we were.
In winter, we would wrap up warm in coats, gloves, scarves, and hats. It made you appreciate the warm home after school, or when you came in from the snow.
We lived a lot further north when I was growing up, (although I’m originally from London), and it snowed more there. As children we got really excited about snow days – because school would be closed – but also because we could play out in it, build snowmen, and go sledding. Even the dog got involved in the games! (I am the child in the picture, and the dog is our pet dog Cindy)
My Nan loved Christmas, possibly more than the children did! She was always really enthusiastic about the day itself, but also the time before. All the preparations – buying things, wrapping things, making things, decorating things… And that enthusiasm was infectious! The activities are different now, but I still like the pre-Christmas time, which is why I had plenty to write about for the couple of years that I did Blogmas.
What winter means now
Ok, I don’t enjoy going out in the rain, and I’m glad I could say goodbye to freezing waits on train platforms and walking to work in the sleet. I do enjoy a good wintry walk though, when there’s a fresh breeze to blow away the cobwebs and clear my head. Maybe now, in this unusual time, it will also guarantee us more seclusion when we do go out for our walks. That will help me feel safer, and in turn make the walks more enjoyable.
I like making winter food – ok there is all the Christmas stuff, but also warming dishes like soups and stews. I like snuggling up on the sofa with a good book and a hot chocolate! I like hearing the sounds of the howling wind or lashing rain – as long as I’m inside! I like the snuggly, fluffy things that we bring out to wear during this time!
I listened to a report about winter life in places that have a lot more snow and a lot less light than we have. Of course they have problems too – no country doesn’t – but I really got a sense that this season is also something to be embraced and enjoyed, often with outdoor activities, rather than something to hide away from.
For me, winter is a quieter time – a time to reflect, to rest, and take stock. It’s a bit like the night time – we might be more active in the day, but you need the night as well, otherwise everything would be too exhausting! Ok I’m a night owl as well!
I know that this year it will be harder for some people – fewer chances to meet outside, if those activities are weather-dependent, probably a very different Christmas. We need to adapt, to make sure our friends are ok, and not be too ashamed to ask for help if we need it.
The clocks are going back, and the darker nights are coming. I know for some people that will be harder, in a year when some are already feeling isolated.
I’m not talking about people who are facing hardships right now, such as struggling to pay the heating bills or afford enough to eat. But I do get frustrated when people, many of whom still have a lot more freedoms than I’ve had all summer, want to dismiss the next few months because some things will be a bit different this year.
I’ve been shielding since March. I haven’t been able to do all the things I want, go all the places I want, or hug all the people I want to. But I still believe I have a lot to be grateful for. I intend to make the most of the winter when it comes, because every season has something to offer, even when you have to look a bit harder to find it.
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