Tonight is the winter solstice. It’s the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. Winter begins, and we already have snow on the ground here in Council, Idaho. There’s a full moon – the aptly named “Cold Moon” – tomorrow night, and the Ursid meteor shower peaks this weekend before Christmas.
There’s a fire in my pellet stove, and supper is cooking in the oven. My little dog, Sammy, and the cats, Spanky and Eliza Jane, have already been fed. I’m looking forward to doing the dishes and crawling into my warm bed with a good book.
I like to be cozy. Winter allows me to bring out the flannel, the wool, and the fleece that I packed away in late spring. Warm house slippers and knitted throws please me.
Soups, stews, and casseroles appeal to me more than sandwiches and salads. So, bring on the pot pies and the roasted root vegetables. Tator-tot casserole topped with bubbling cheese is fine winter fare. Hot chocolate, hot buttered rum, hot cider with mulling spices, hot teas sweetened with honey…Yes, please!
Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.
After summer’s long and hot days of yard work and gardening, followed by fall’s harvest and preservation, I’m more than ready for some down time. Rest and recuperation, in addition to winter crafts, long books, and rejuvenating self care rituals rule the day.
Winter Outdoor Lessons Learned
In my youth I attempted to learn downhill skiing, but I am not athletic. Friends convinced us to go to Colorado, and we all took group lessons that first year.
It was brutally hard, and I never got off the bunny slope. However, I did figure out that the young, good-looking instructors gave the private lessons. I saved money all year for a day’s private instruction…Her name was Monique, and all the men in our group agreed that she was very good-looking. At any rate, she sure earned her money that day. And I learned that skiing wasn’t really a sport that I wanted to pursue.
She managed to get me on the ski lift, but almost always had to push me off at the proper place so that I didn’t wind up on a trail that I wasn’t prepared for. At the end of the day I wound up being almost the last skier on the hill as snow started to fall. All the snowboarders had passed my by. I wasn’t afraid of getting run over anymore, and the mountain was silent for the first time all day. Monique skied behind me as I (finally!) managed a run of gentle turns back and forth across the trail to the lodge. It was amazing! It was also the only good run I made in 3 years of trying.
Snowshoeing came a little easier, and is much more fun. But the only outdoor winter sport I really enjoy is snow tracking. In the 6 blocks I walk to work I can see the tracks of several neighborhood dogs, the feral cats down by the walking trail, squirrels, a multitude of California quail, and 4 or 5 mule deer. I know these animals are always around, but the snow makes them so much easier to track.
Once I’ve seen what the local wildlife and domestic animals are up to, I’m ready to come inside, put on a pot of soup, and make a warm drink. After I’ve changed into my winter house uniform of sweatpants and a sweater, I might pick up my knitting, which I never have time to do the rest of the year. I might make an herbal salve or remedy with something I grew in my garden and preserved in the fall. Often I’ll choose to dive into a good book. I can read for hours in winter when there’s nothing more pressing to do! Or, I might just take a nap on the couch under a down comforter with Sammy, Spanky, and Eliza Jane surrounding me…
One thing’s for sure. I won’t waste a nice winter day pining for the heat and hard work of summertime. That will come soon enough.