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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Thrown into winter
Windy, snowy, freezing cold
Shiver me timbers

Published in: on November 20, 2014 at 8:29 pm  Comments (21)  
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Warmth and Inspiration

 Have not been too inspired of late, but here is my weekly offering in the form of my column:

            This never-ending winter has many of us hunkered down and if not hibernating at least wishing that was an option. I, however, have done my part. On March 1st I took down the wreath I had on my front door which featured a snowman and put up a new more seasonal wreath. Or at least it is a wreath that I hope becomes seasonal soon. It sports pink and lime green hydrangeas and looks quite lovely in contrast to all the white that envelops us.

            After I put the wreath on the front door on Saturday, my husband, John and I travelled to Kitchener to go to a wedding and when we got back yesterday I made the disappointed observation that my tactic did not work. Apparently springtide was not attracted to my symbolic gesture—so I will just have to accept that while it may not be around the immediate corner, the warm season is at the end of a long jaunt filled with ice craters, snow piles, and deep car-eating ruts in the road.

            The road trip to Kitchener was uneventful—but a bit dicey on the way home yesterday. One of the things that John and I do to make the trip more enjoyable is play music from our misspent youths. I am sure that John has now had his fill of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and in particular one of my favourite ballads of all times: “Our House”. I love the melodic tale it tells and will share some of the words with you now. I would share the whole thing, but I think there are copyright issues:

I’ll light the fire, You put the flowers in the vase, That you bought today–

Staring at the fire, For hours and hours, While I listen to you, Play your love songs,
All night long for me, Only for me–

Come to me now, And rest your head for just five minutes, Everything is good,
Such a cosy room, The windows are illuminated, By the sunshine through them
Fiery gems for you, Only for you…….”

And my favourite verse of all: “Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard, Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy’, Cause of you…..”

            This song embraces “home” to me—warmth, contentedness, love, and the fact that life can be hard, but the people you surround yourself with can make it so much easier. So in this vast coldness and Arctic vortex winter, we can be warmed by words until the sun shines a little warmer.

            The other song that John had to put up with on our road trip was from the movie “Frozen”. I picked up the soundtrack from Costco for less than $9 if anyone is interested and we listened to the song “Let It Go” in its various renditions. I particularly love track 10 which is the Demi Lovato version of the song—her voice soars and makes the words come alive. Just the words “Let It Go” have a power in themselves and each of us can translate them to mean what we want them to—I am sure all of us have to let something go in order to make room for other and better things. Here is a sample of some of the words I found particularly inspiring, and coming from the movie “Frozen” seem very apropos to the weather we have been having: “Let it go! Let it go! I am one with the wind and sky,

Let it go! Let it go! You’ll never see me cry,

Here I stand and here I’ll stay

Let the storm rage on….”

            Though winter is not done with us yet and “rages on”, I will take the lilting words of the “Frozen” song to heart and “Let It Go” all the while dreaming of “Our House” with a warm fire, fresh flowers in a vase, and cats in the backyard. In reality though it has to warm up for my cat to venture out—he sniffs the cold air and hightails it back in the house dreaming of adventures and warmer days. So while I dream of those days too, I will adjust my spring wreath and put on my big boots until nature finds it in her heart to warm up the environs.

Published in: on March 4, 2014 at 7:50 am  Comments (34)  
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Winter of Discontent

  “Now is the winter of our discontent.” ~ William Shakespeare

            We have hit record snowfall totals for the month of January, and almost broken the low temperature records. Small comfort in this deep freeze we have been caught in, but maybe we need a change of attitude and should try to embrace this cold snap.

            Luckily I do not have a job that entails working out in this weather, and when I do have to venture out I bundle up in layer upon layer. But, I do love the cold weather when I am inside looking out, with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, a good book to read, and a warm throw over my legs. Unfortunately real life gets in the way and we cannot assume this position of comfort for long. Since we have no choice in the matter if we do not have a warm weather vacation in the offing we have to adjust as best we can.

            I found a few winter quotes—some inspiring, some hopeful, some funny, and others—well I think they were observed in a winter such as we are having now.  I like Robert Frost’s attitude, which lives up to his last name. He says: “You can’t get too much winter in the winter.” Now if I had said that people would have thought “duh”, or “yes you can”, but because it came from the pen of a great poet, we take note and ponder his wisdom.

            William Blake perhaps does not reflect how many of us feel but he does have a sunny way of looking at winter: “In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” Okay Bill, I will enjoy this winter keeping in mind these words from Percy Shelley: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” Hope obviously sprang eternal in Shelley’s human breast, adhering to Alexander Pope’s words that “Man never is, but always to be blessed.”

            Comedian and actor Billy Connolly wryly says: “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter.” Being partially of Scottish origins, perhaps that is why I do not mind winter—I harken back to times in my ancestral home when I and Shirley MacLaine were living out one of our lives together there.  Hall of Famer, Bill Veeke also believes that there are only two seasons: baseball and winter.

            Dave Barry is clearly not a Canadian and his words bear this out: “The problem with winter sports is that – follow me closely here – they generally take place in the winter.” Dave, Dave, Dave – where would the Olympics be without the winter sports?

            Andrew Wyeth is rather poetic in his assessment of winter. He says: “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show”.

            And what would a column on quotes about winter be without a little input from that young sage, Taylor Swift who harmoniously states: “I love the scents of winter! For me, it’s all about the feeling you get when you smell pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread and spruce.” I feel a song coming on……Another musician, Bob Seger is inspired in the winter—he says that he writes 80% of his stuff in the cold months. “Give me some of that old time rock ‘n roll….music that will soothe the soul…..”

            A few more quotes that need no embellishment but may just sway you into thinking winter is not so bad:

1. Tom Allen says: “While I relish our warm months, winter forms our character and brings out our best.”

2. “There are three reasons for becoming a writer: the first is that you need the money; the second that you have something to say that you think the world should know; the third is that you can’t think what to do with the long winter evenings.” ~Quentin Crisp

3. “Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” ~ Pietro Aretino

4. “Winter is not a season, it is an occupation.” ~ Sinclair Lewis

            I will leave you with two final comments on winter. They sum up how we all feel at one time or another. Robert Byne believes that: “Winter is nature’s way of saying ‘Up yours’”, while Anton Chekhov makes this very valid point: “People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.”

            So enjoy, be happy, and don’t throw snowballs at me when you see me!


All quotes from brainyquotes.com/keyword/winter

Frozen Souls


Sadness permeates

Frozen winter souls

A warm thaw of hope

Melts the core ~

Published in: on January 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm  Comments (25)  
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Red Mitten


Warmed by a snowflake

Caught in a red mittened hand

Frozen winter thaws

Published in: on January 17, 2014 at 2:33 pm  Comments (12)  
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Winter Lace

Winter Lace (Photo credit: Lorna is)

First day of winter

Mystical solstice welcomes

The enchanted season

Published in: on December 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm  Comments (14)  
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Sometime You Just Have to Have Faith

English: A snow covered path at Hawkbatch, Wyr...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Snow crisp underfoot

Leaves no tracks; no evidence

That Santa was here

Published in: on December 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm  Comments (12)  
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Winter Kept at Bay ~ For Now


November (Photo credit: Cape Cod Cyclist)

Mid-November chill

Sunshine melts iced frost caked world

Winter ransom paid

Published in: on November 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm  Comments (19)  
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