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.