This morning a neighbor walked by when I was sweeping off the light dusting of snow on our sidewalks, and we had a brief conversation.
"I've decided to be optimistic and hope the snow will melt today," he laughed.
"Let me know how that works for you," I responded.
"Do you and Bruce get away during the winter?"
"Not usually. We like winter. It doesn't generally bother us. How about you?"
Really? Well, I've got plans to be gone in January and March and maybe December, too," he chuckled and dashed down the block towards his house, tugging on the leash of his dog.
Thus, begins the ongoing discussion about winter distress here in Minnesota. True, winter has arrived a bit earlier and a bit more definitely than normal this year. The temperature here is 6 this morning, but the sun is shining brightly and no more snow is predicted till later in the week.
I realize I have a life of privilege. I live in a cozy house with a good furnace. I have a supply of sweaters and shawls and wool socks and long underwear, when I need it. Plus, as a woman in her 70's, I can stay home when I want to and don't need to battle the ice and snow on the roads.
Perhaps it is my Danish heritage, but I not only don't dread winter, I welcome it. Last year I learned about the Danish concept of hygge (hue ga), which is hard to define, but has to do with finding joy in the simple pleasures of everyday life.
Hygge illuminates the long, dark Scandinavian
winters with candlelight and crackling hearths
and good times shared with friends and family.
Hygge is about instilling a feeling of contentment
and happiness...Decorate your home with items that
bring you joy, such as fresh flowers and pine cones
collected on country walks.
Hygge is about sharing good times with the people
you love, and one of the best ways of doing this is to
sit down together for a meal or tea and cake, and discuss
the big (and little) things in life.
Hygge isn't just about shutting out the cold and
snuggling by the fire.
Hygge is about seeing beauty in the everyday and
savoring each moment either in the form of well-
deserved "me time" or spending time with loved ones.
from The Art of Hygge, How to Bring
Danish Cosiness into Your Life
Jonny Jackson and Elias Larson
The winter months feel spacious to me. I look at the bare trees and see open space; space in which I can spend more hours at my desk writing or in the snug under a blanket reading. I sleep longer, too, and we are learning how important good sleep is for our well-being. I love the hearty food of winter, the layers of comfy clothes, the song of the wind outside the door, and even the early arrival of darkness each day.
That's how I feel, but I know that is not the case for everyone. However, I invite you to prepare for this coming season. What can you do to improve these winter days for yourself?
Gather some favorite recipes for soups. Become a baker--breads and scones and muffins. Buy a new boardgame or get out
ones you haven't played in years. Stack favorite books you have thought about re-reading. Set a pretty table--be sure to include candles--even when you are eating by yourself. Get out a craft project you set aside--a sweater you haven't finished knitting.
Remember those boxes of photographs you keep telling yourself you want to organize. Now is the time. Rearrange your furniture. Move a favorite chair to the spot in the house that gets the best light--no matter what room it is. Cut paper snowflakes--they will remind you of the magic and wonder of childhood.
Write letters. Not emails. Letters. Luxuriate in soothing body lotions. Watch feel-good movies. Get outside, even if it means only standing on your front steps and breathing. When it isn't icy, bundle up and go for a walk. Notice the beauties of the day.
Check on a neighbor who may need help shoveling or getting to the grocery store or who may find winter to be even more distressing than you do. I bet she would love some of the muffins you made. And what can you do for others who don't have the privileged life you do? Are you really using all the coats and scarves taking up space in your closet? Contact a local agency who would love to have them.
Rather than wait till you are snowed in or feeling the heaviness of one dark day after another, prepare now. Get ready. Make a list of appealing activities and gather what you may need.
Our weariness with winter doesn't make the season go any faster, so why not decide to live into these months? Why not honor these days of your life?
Fear less, hope more;
eat less, chew more;
whine less, breathe more;
talk less, say more;
hate less, love more; and
all good things are yours.
What are your winter intentions? I would love to know.