I read an article this week about how coping with dark and cold of winter need not be an enterprise of suffering. My time in the Yukon certainly taught me to find the light in the darkest days, so that an eight-month winter wasn't something I endured to arrive at the four-month warm weather. Spending two-thirds of my time in misery, cold and subdued quiet was math that didn't make sense, but the solutions weren't readily apparent. I wondered if I was doing it wrong by not embracing cross-country skiing, or skijoring, even though they didn't appeal to me in the slightest.
I have learned not to interpret my instincts as wrong. I am more tired, I have a more inward focus, I shy away from busy group activities, I crave comfort food, I give in to nights on the cough under blankets watching movies. These aren't wrong, I have learned, but rather the perks of cold weather, my favourite winter activities. I don't give into these callings all the time, just like in summer I can't spend all my time lounging in a floatie in the pool. These little luxuries (hot chocolate by the fire, movie nights, creamy casseroles, reading chapter after chapter by lamplight) are things I get to do because it is cold out.
Stay with me here. I still exercise until I sweat, like hiking and running, daily yoga, and pulling the kids on the sled to school through the snow twice a day. I still eat healthy, and try to get some good nutrients from frozen fruits in smoothies, and good hearty soups. I still get up, do my hair and get dressed (although my kids have noticed that my outfits have morphed into pyjama-clothing hybrids). I still make a point to get out to the woods, or to the river, to notice the effects of changing seasons and to refill my soul cup.
When the time comes, and I get to ask myself what feels right, what do I really want to do, the answers come to me like gifts I am about to unwrap: apple crisp for a surprise dessert, making a baked brie just for me, coming in from the cold and making a no-holds-barred fancy hot chocolate with all the fixings, getting into my flannel jammies and reading a real page-turner with no plans for the whole evening. This is rich living just as much as was gardening, swimming, beach road trips and ice cream trips in summer. (Also, yes, a lot of my happy moments are tied to delicious food. Aren't everyone's?)
The weather outside is cold and damp, our trips to the woods are short. My body clock is slower-moving and my energy metre reads a little low. This is the way things are in the darker days, during the colder months. I am not indoors waiting for something better, for warmer days. I am in here, sipping something warm, saying no to social invitations, and happily so.