Midwinter Charms

My weekly column:

We are in the depths of a winter deep freeze, and I don’t know about you, but I have barely stuck my nose outside for several days. Cabin fever has not yet struck as my confinement is caused only by my reluctance to face the cold, and not an outside force.

I am keeping myself warm by turning up the heat (in a house which is becoming draftier as the days go on); drinking hot tea; and on occasion donning the heating pad. Wearing a heating pad may not be all that trendy right now, but mine is pink and covered in flowers, so it goes nicely with my jeans and turtleneck and very warm slippers I got for Christmas.

I am not complaining, or not complaining all that much, though I do see the benefit of escaping to a warmer clime, something I have never voiced before. Proudly Canadian, I have always thought that vacating our country for the one next door during the cold months is a bit unpatriotic—but I am quickly changing my tune.

Generally I like winter—but not a winter like last year, and not one where I am dreaming of hitting the freezing mark so I can wear just one pair of socks. So, I thought I would find a few voices to help me (and you) through the worst of this season. Perhaps these people romanticize winter, but I need a hit of positivism to get me through the next few weeks. And who knows, by the time you read this, it might be a balmy 0 centigrade or so.

I am supposed to be reading “Journey to the Heart” by Melody Beattie on a daily basis, as her insights are neatly gathered under the headings of January 1, 2, 3, etc. Today would be January 10th but it is under the 13th that I find some words to console me ever so slightly. She tells us to:

“Cherish the winter.
Cherish it quietness,
the time of going within to rest and heal.
Cherish this time of preparation
that must come before new life.
Cherish the hope that lies beneath the snow.”

Beattie believes that we should “honour winter’s lesson” and says that the sun will shine again, the snow will melt, and we will return to “the activity of life.” She thinks that winter is an important season in our lives and that it is a time of “going within” and “rest”.
Lewis Carroll of Alice in Wonderland fame agrees with Beattie’s analysis. Though he came before her, he too thinks that winter is a time of rest, and paints a serene picture in his quote about the season of cold. He said: “I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” Carroll’s observation is lyrical so I will forgive him for treating winter as if it is an old friend.

I am more in the mood for John Steinbeck’s rather practical if less romantic analysis of winter. He asks, somewhat impishly (Steinbeck impish?—pray tell my mind is wavering): “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” Here, here, I say. We must suffer a bit in order to enjoy (alas, I wish it were not so).

But my favourite quote of all comes from a poet after my own heart. Dame Edith Sitwell sums up winter and all its charms in these words:

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:
it is time for home.”

For it is in winter that home is our refuge—our friendly place—the place we do not mind being. So wrap yourselves in scarves, pile on the sweaters and socks, and savour the time that winter gives us to pause—if just for a moment.

Published in: on January 13, 2015 at 2:46 am  Comments (33)  
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33 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I don’t like cold, but do like the quietness of a snow.

  2. I like a bit of winter but I think I too can enjoy a quietness within, in the sunny south.

  3. Thanks for giving me a little taste of imaginary cold – it is SO hot here argh!

  4. Wow did I need this today…and yesterday, and the day before..It’s bitter cold here and my spirit is flagging between the chill and the greyness. Your timing, as always, is perfect.

    • Am wearing tons of layers–even in the house–Mimi–let’s go to Hawaii!

      • Aloha!!!

      • now all I have to do is win the lottery–I plan on winning the $30 mil this weekend

      • I’ve got to start playing – I need to win it too.. 😉 I have big plans for that money..

      • if I win $30 mil I will share…………..

      • It’s a deal – and if I win, I’ll share… 😉

      • I had no doubts 🙂

  5. I’m with Steinbeck and with Melody here. Can’t choose. Depends on the day.

    • they cover two sides of the spectrum–but I too agree with both–depends on the day, as you say–I am a poet and don’t know it

  6. When you stop and think about it.. winter does give us more of a ‘pause’.. not so busy as summer (although I guess with families where children play organized sport such as hockey, they would disagree, but then they have a different reason to embrace winter)… Why is it that winter seems so long and summer so short? I sure hope we get a chance for a short ‘warm respite’ for even a week or two…I’d be a ‘snow bird’ for a couple of months of winter if I could…. double sigh… Diane

    • this weekend is supposed to be warmer-let us keep our mittened fingers crossed!

      • Just realized my comment was overly wordy… must have been my teeth chattering and I just kept going and going… !!! Diane

      • you are never too wordy–I enjoy your comments–don’t stop!

  7. Couch, blanket, hot chocolate, good book. That’s all I want right now. I could care less if I went outside, especially today since it is currently -28C outside. Brrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!! Keep warm my friend.

    • it is only -25 here–so comparitively balmy–I like your perscription but I think I will have some tea–right about now–and a token piece of dark chocolate with sea salt–yum–have six books on the go too–soo I am covered

      • I just got home from work. I did vacuuming and laundry last night, and I bought subs for dinner. So, I am now on the couch under a blanket with the latest Stephen King book, and nobody better ask me to move :). Take that Winter!! LOL

  8. Though I’m an absolute wimp when it comes to the cold, there is a certain romance about it. I keep telling my friends who are in parts of the world that currently have snow that I’m rather envious of them. While I like variety, I think the cold does also give you a better appreciation for staying in and staying warm. (Or am I just trying too hard to give this a positive spin? :D)

    • I think you are giving it just the right spin–if truth be told I kind of like being inside when it is really cold–can be cozy

  9. Never snowed here don’t think it ever will, but I do like the thought of snow. I have once or twice in my life seen snow and I did like it indeed

  10. There is a sense of warmth and sleepiness in winter..comfort but Dagnabit I’m so darn frozen, it’s hard to be cheerful.

    • it is hard to be cheerful when it is cold–and I love the use of the word dagnabit–cheered me right up

  11. I don’t think I have ever experienced a cold like yours. Sounds peaceful but difficult to imagine!

    Choc Chip Uru

    • a day or two is peaceful, more than that it becomes irritating-I think because I live in an area of Canada where we are not used to extended

  12. Thanks for making me think of winter in a different way. Recently, I have just been in survival mode… just get me through this. This was a much-needed reminder of why to enjoy every season.

  13. I love your fashion sense! Never thought of wearing a heating pad, but I’m often cold…I get cold when most people are feeling comfortably cool…so clearly, I should not be spending any time in Alaska! Fortunately I have now set up a part time life hear, and part time in Washington. And even at that, I’m in SE Alaska, and the temps stay very moderate even in winter…typically 30s and 40s Fahrenheit in winter. On a different level, I’m in a winter season with regard to some issues of life…so waiting for spring/summer to return and the joy of life to come back with those glad times. I know it will happen, just a matter of waiting it out! Thanks for the quotes and the image of the heating pad. Brought a big smile! ~ Sheila

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