A certain time of winter comes, and the body simply cranks down into Survival Mode. It’s post-holiday, after the New Year celebrations, and once the glitter is gone, and the thrill of the first snowfall, your psyche is just OVER IT. Skin is constantly dry, and one drinks tons of tea, slathers on lotion, and has a rather grim set to the mouth. Add to it wild weather, various illnesses and relapses, bedraggled hems and soaked shoes, and people just get snippy. Extraneous communication ceases, people do what they have to and sleep in the rest of the time.
(… unless they’re in the Bay Area of California, or San Diego. Then, they revel in the sunshine, and plot where they’re going to plant their tomatoes, the fortunate miscreants.) While our friends in the Midwest and the East Coast are still losing the last vestiges of Snopocalypse II, 2011, and Seattle braces for more snow this weekend (!); while many are reeling from the news that three of the next five winters will be just this severe, *thanks to climate change (and if you don’t believe in it, we don’t want to discuss it); while many hack and cough and hunch over their inhalers (looking at you, Mom and Van), we thought it might be time to play a round of Summer Preview. Feast your eyes on D’s photography from years past, and allow the images to jumpstart your brain into seeing a future of beach scenes, seed catalogs, sharpened mower blades, short sleeves, and giving yourself that much-needed leg deforestation (well, not everyone. Just you swimmers.) and pedicure…
Are you feeling inspired? Perhaps craving grilled vegetables and food on sticks? Salad??? That’s right, drag that ratty fleece blanket a little closer, have another sip of tea, and let your mind go… to somewhere in the world there is a whole color palette that doesn’t begin and end with gray, white, and black. It exists! You will see it again! Honest!
*You hadn’t heard about this Winter Hinterland thing being the new normal? Meteorologist’s long-term predictions seem to point that direction. If that fills you with horror, you’re not alone. Instead of panicking, there should be something (other than buying a lot of thermals, flannel and Thinsulate™) to do to plan ahead, to enjoy winter more (or at all) and to not let months of your life pass you by as you sleepwalk/whine/sniffle the days away. “Teh Interwebs” offer this advice (well, they actually offer a whole lot more – this is what’s useful and doesn’t reiterate too much what you already know):
- Get Healthy. In warmer, drier weather, getting into the habit of drinking plenty of water, getting at minimum eight hours of sleep, and those minimum thirty minutes a day of sustained exercise will really help you, because you’ll have those same habits come wintertime. Some of you are groaning quietly, but consider that exercise doesn’t have to be something boring. You CAN put on music and dance with your cats for a half hour. (Yes, that will make you the Crazy Cat Person, but who can they tell?) In the winter, good health habits will come back to help you, by giving you more energy and helping keep illness at bay. Eat citrus! Drink tea! Consider taking Vitamin D supplements, along with those Five A Day veg/fruit servings you’ll be eating – this will give you some health insurance that you don’t have to buy — and doesn’t everyone want that?
- Get Out. When we moved to Glasgow, our friend India said for us to go outside every single day it wasn’t absolutely pouring, if we could. We didn’t understand what she meant, and tended to stay in when it was foggy or freezing. No more. Getting outside can mean the different between sanity and …well, that other thing. Remember what you knew as a child: walking in the rain – and in the puddles – can be fun. Wind can be bracing (in small doses, with a reasonable windchill). Beach walks — where the sand clings to your shoes and doesn’t involve your legs in a losing battle against mud — are great, too. Snow hikes — wherein you don’t have the whole Little House on the Prairie vibe of Pa getting lost in a blizzard — can be beautiful, as you revel in the silence and the animal tracks. Get outside, even if it’s just a twenty minute walk on your lunch break every day. You don’t appreciate a warm, dry house, a fuzzy blankie, or a cup of tea as much as you do when you’ve been cold and a bit wet.
- Stay in the light. Whether this means burning a brightly scented pillar candle in a dark kitchen at oh-dark-early before you go to school or work (avoid those metal wicks; apparently they contain lead), or sitting beneath full-spectrum bulbs (Verilux or Blues Busters are great), which mimic sunlight, give yourself as much light as you can, during regular daylight hours. (Be aware that they can make you stay up too long, and you’ll need to adjust your light input – by turning them off an hour before you want to go to bed) Strings of lights around the floorboards of a house are marvelous – and make it look like you’ll Never Get Over Christmas. (Never mind, we KNOW you actually packed your decorations away on time this year. Sure you did.) We’re bewildered at how many people are fine with sitting in rooms with 40 watt bulbs in this country. Especially as it’s Prime Reading Season in the winter, splurge on a 120 watt and SEE for a change!
Winter is only a part of the cycle of life and death of the natural world, and fierce and heavy winters will only mean that we’ll enjoy the temperate autumn and summer days that much more. We hope you’ve enjoyed this round of Summer Preview, and that it’s bringing you some anticipation of good things to come. Spring will come again — and so will winter. Next time, hopefully, we’ll be better physically AND mentally prepared!
“May you live ALL the days of your life.” ~ Jonathan Swift
All of these photographs are of flowers at the Glasgow Botanical Garden. It’s a great place to go when the temperatures are down into the low numbers, because it is ALWAYS balmy inside those glass greenhouses. We spend an entire morning there our first February in Scotland, and before the month is out, we hope to do it again!