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Tuesday, January 16, 2024

"Wintering" This Week

I have a tendency to think about winter as everything Christmas. But in reality, winter has just barely begun by Christmas Day. Once the holiday decorations are put away, we will have many weeks of this winter business. Some of us are happier about that fact than others. Whether we like winter or not, it is here to stay for a little while.

Snowfall brings a stillness to the outside world. Life outdoors takes a pause. And without the hustle and bustle of the holidays, life indoors feels like it slows down.

I'm trying to lean into winter this year, feel what winter is all about. And that is what "wintering" is.

This week's wintering has meant:

Lighting a few candles in the late afternoon. Winter is the perfect season for candles, as sunset comes early, yielding more candle enjoyment hours per day.

Noticing the pink sky in those moments that the sun leaves us for the day.

Taking in the citrusy aroma as I peel a tangerine for my afternoon snack. The tangerine season is brief each year.

Using and appreciating our wintry dishes. The blankets of snow over the bridge in the engraving seems particularly apropos this week.

Really appreciating the beauty of evergreens. In spring and summer, the flowers take the spotlight and evergreens fade to the background. In winter, it's the evergreens that give us a pop of color in the landscape. Their subtle fragrance is not to be easily dismissed either. This small cedar branch with its needle-leaves was in the way as I went out to collect the mail. I began to brush the larger branch aside, then instead I pulled this tiny piece off and brought it along with the mail into the house with me.

After sorting the mail, I decided to do a couple of crayon rubbings of the cedar, like we once did as children. I didn't have the exact color of crayon, so I chose a couple to layer on color as I rubbed. Rubbing the underside of the branch worked better. It picked up more texture than rubbing the top side. 

After a few tries at rubbing, I tore the peel from my tangerine into small bits and broke the individual tiny branches off the stem o the cedar to make a small dish of potpourri to fragrance the room. The dish is now sitting in front of the floor heat vent, adding a bit of citrus and green scent to the air. When all of the pieces are completely dried, I'll add them to some potpourri in the guest bathroom.

In addition to the above, wintering for me means not scheduling anything stressful for the month of January, as much as possible. This is a time to de-stress and rebuild myself for spring.

Whether you call it wintering or not, do you make efforts to slow down just a bit in January? What would wintering look like in your life?


  1. I like the term wintering and the examples of how you are doing it. Although I do not like the cold, I like the different landscape of winter with the grays and browns and visible branching of the trees. And snow is beautiful if you have the luxury of not having to drive in it. January for me is usually getting back to a routine and focusing on some household tasks that there doesn't seem to be time for when the outside is calling.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      The changing landscapes are beautiful. I love the look of snow and the bare trees. I don't like to be cold, though, and I don't have adequate winter boots or coat to get out in it for long. So I enjoy it from indoors. Warmer weather will be with us again soon enough.

  2. Wintering in January in Michigan means very cold temperatures, lots of snow, school closings, treacherous driving conditions, furnace dying and a new one put in, snowblowing the driveway, doing it again after the snow plow comes through and fills your driveway, slipping and sliding on the road going to and from work, ice everywhere, being cold all the time, and so much more. It is not an enjoyable time when we personally experienced all of these things this past week. It's been a tough week after having had a very mild December.

    1. Hi Alice,
      I'm sorry this past week has been so frustrating for you. We do our best under these circumstances. On the bright side, January is over half done, February is a short month, then March will come with the promise of warmer days. I hope this next week is a much better one for you. Stay warm!

  3. Like Alice, we got hit with truly frigid temperatures last week (and the snowplow filling our cleaned driveway, too!), after a very mild late fall/December. I don't tolerate below-zero cold, so basically did not leave the house for four or five days, and really missed my daily walks (which I DO enjoy doing in the snow, if the temps are reasonable.) I do like the indoor time for chores and hobbies, like Live and Learn, when outside is less-hospitable than other seasons, and I try to make good use of it. Like you, I try not to schedule much in January, so it IS a more-relaxing month after the holiday rush. But I also do find that it's pleasant to think, "Hey, I can bake or cook beans or whatever all day, and will WELCOME the warmth in the kitchen." And living as far north as you and we live, I DO also really love watching every day get longer and longer, very noticeably, immediately after the solstice. Even if there isn't sun (we have a lot of cloudy skies this time of year, like you) and even if you're out, the angle's too low for vitamin D, just expanding length of daylight really lifts my spirits every day (until the time change. ) Hang in there, everybody! Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      I hope it's warmer there this week. I was housebound for several days in a row here, too, due to the ice everywhere. I tried to get out for a walk last Friday but the driveway itself was iced over and I don't have snow boots or anything better than sneakers for walking. I've been doing my walking indoors for the last week.

      I find I bake more in January. It warms the house and it's something I enjoy doing. I also clean a bit more, as I have the time since I'm not working outdoors. Here's to longer days!!!

  4. Winter is so beautiful, unfortunately the only change in season that we experience is a slightly shorter day. We are having some rain which is so welcomed after an especially dry year. It's a good idea to de-stress in January and ponder changes for the new year. I try to think of a word for the year that suggests the change I would like. "Self care" might be fitting as I work to improve our diet (we have started a garden again), and be kind and loving to myself as well as others.

    Have a wonderful evening,

    1. Hi Laura,
      Yay for you for starting the garden again! I hope that you get all the rainfall you need. I find January to be a good time to focus on better eating. After a month and a half of celebratory foods, I'm ready to do good for my body again.
      Have a lovely day, Laura!

  5. I'm experiencing the same weather as Alice, and I laughed when she mentioned the snow plows re-filling the driveway with snow. Yup. So true.

    I am fortunate in that, as prn staff, I have a lot of flexibility with whether or not I work. At this time of the year, I watch the weather and put in "request to work" options when it looks like the roads will be in decent condition. As a result, I don't work a lot of hours during the winter, but overall I'm ok with that. I try to put in more hours April-October to make up for that.

    Like you, Lili, I find myself taking a breath of relief in January. I love slowing down after a busy holiday season and I try to spend this time doing heavy duty cleaning, catching up on continuing ed for work, etc.

    I know that I'm unusual, but I love the snow. I dislike the gray/brown landscape and the clean, fresh snow brightens my mood. Learning to snowshoe has added an element of fun to winter. My husband and daughter had Monday off, and we had a wonderful time snowshoeing at a local park. The snow was outlining the tree branches, and there was a gentle snowfall while we were out--it was truly magical. I'm noticing that we are having more extreme weather conditions than we did a few years ago, which is frustrating. I'd love it if, once we got a snowfall, the weather would moderate in the upper 20s--cold enough to keep snow on the ground, but warm enough for road salt to be effective and make driving easier. We are forecast for weather in the upper 30s with rain next week and that's a set-up for a lot of yuck.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Snowshoeing sounds like a lot of fun. Do you think it's on par with cross-country skiing in effort required? I'm so glad you, your husband and daughter could get out to a park on Monday. I love how the snow on the ground adds light to our otherwise dreary days in my area. I think it's good to focus on the aspects of winter that we like, especially for those of us like me who deal with SAD in these darker months.
      I hope you can get out snowshoeing again soon!

    2. I've only been cross-country skiing once. If memory serves me correctly, I think that skiing involves more gliding, while snowshoeing involves trudging. My guess is that snowshoeing requires a lot more exertion. My son is taking a snowshoeing/cross country skiing class this semester, so I can ask him what he thinks. I would gladly take you with me if you lived close by.

      I love how much brighter the interior of my house is with the snow cover. It's a mood booster.


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