Last year I had a year without winter. I organised to do a house sit in an area which were extremely hot in summer, was beautifully temperate over the winter months. In fact I was able to swim in August, an extremely cold month in the Southern Hemisphere. I counted myself lucky when skyping family and friends in colder environments. However I did enjoy a mild autumn when I visited Canada in October. But Autumn or Fall is not winter, that season is a different creature altogether.
Why have I become such a fan of summer and avoider of winter? Maybe its because I lived in the Blue Mountains for fourteen years and experienced many a bleak and frosty winter season in that part of the world and started to crave a life by the sea where winds were warm, the need for clothes minimal, and windows could be left wide open at night allowing the sounds of the sea to enter my dreams. I achieved that dream and lived a street away from a gentle beach for three years. I became a summer person, just as I was in my childhood and sought out new beaches and summer times in my travels.
Of course winter has as much beauty and colour as any other season; you just have to look a bit deeper to discover its beauty. And winter in different places is individual.Take Canberra for example.
The nation’s capital city is located in a geographical trough which makes it extremely hot in summer and bleakly cold in winter. A couple of days ago it was minus four in the morning and Jack Frost had draped his cloak over every roof and lawn. Of course if you live in the Yukon mm such a temperature is tropical! In my Canadian travels I met a young woman who hailed from the Yukon where I was told summer temperatures could reach a heady minus 25!
There is something about the Canberran winters that I now find particularly challenging. Maybe its the current bleakness in the nation’s psyche that emanates from the heart of government on the hill. A Scrooge like mentality that reduces every human transaction into an economic plus or minus.
My family live here and I have returned for a visit to reconnect and wonder at the growth of my soon to be two year old grandson and granddaughter almost five. And so I have become determined to rediscover the joys of winter.
• Bed becomes important. Its not just a place to sleep but offers a chance to luxuriating in snuggling under the doona or blankets. When you have mastered the art of the doona cocoon and got it just right, you will not want to move.
• The appetite increases as food becomes fuel to see you through the cold. In summer, I tend to be desultory with food as water and the need for hydration takes greater importance Soups, roast veggies, pies and tarts come into their own and ginger, turmeric and chilli the essential spice for every dish.
• You can have your muffin top and eat your muffin too! So what if you increase that roll around your tummy and put on a bit of weight? Winter clothes offer the perfect camouflage as you tell yourself and others “its just a bulky jumper” .
• Winter reminds us of essential truths in life. All things, including ourselves, must change. Loss-of leaves, possessions, parts of ourselves, people and even life itself -is inevitable. Winter offers us the opportunity to look deeper into life and find beauty in the outline of a bare and grey tree without leaves, just as we must learn to re-frame and choose our perception of life.
• The sun, the sun! When it comes out on clear and frost covered morning, that golden ball in the sky brings such joy! It makes perfect sense that ancient peoples held mid winter festivals to venerate king Sol. Without him, all life would be extinct. A winter’s day without the sun produces a completely different climate.
There is nothing more delicious than holding a glass of good red wine as you stand before a blazing -environmentally friendly-wood fire.You feel warmed within and without.
I’m sure I’ll discover more joys as I put my mind to appreciating all that a Canberra winter can offer. What do you most enjoy about the winter season?
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