I watched the ice buildup on the trees, the house, windows, and every outdoor surface possible on Friday. The trees are the most interesting to watch as they get heavier and weighed down with ice. Then the wind starts to pick up and you painfully watch them slowly sway, heavily burdened by the layers of ice on their bare branches. The beauty of the ice losses its luster in the wind as most of us then start to worry about losing power…
When I watched the heaviness of the ice on the trees this week, it made me think of the concept of Wintering which I am reading the book Wintering by Katherine May. I had never thought of the concept of “wintering” or what it meant, but this book brings the light this challenging, beautiful, and intimidating process of wintering.
To be honest, many of us have been in a state of wintering for months and months due to COVID. Wintering can be defined a process of retreat, rest, restoration, grief, solitude, isolation, etc. Which many of these terms sound depressing and scary for many people. Some of us thrive in situations such as this while others do not. Wintering can mean something different to everyone.
What does “wintering” mean to you? Do find peace and rest in the winter? Do you dread the shorter days, longer nights, and the cold? For some cultures, wintering is a real process, state of mind, cultural expectation, etc. Some of the wintering processes include preparing for winter/cold, stocking up on food in the freezer, winterizing your home/cars, your body prepares for more sleep, shorter days and longer nights, slowing down life, etc. Many of us battle or dislike these seasonal changes while other knowingly welcome them, adapt, and move on. Some of us even fear this time of year; longer nights, less sunshine, cold, etc.
We have been in a state of “wintering” off and on since March 2020 with COVID. It has challenged all of us in numerous ways (and continues to do so) with work, education, children, finances, relationships, mental health, travel, etc.
I kind of suck at “wintering” and struggle to find peace, to relax, to be still. I don’t know how to not work and if I am not working, I feel like a failure. Being pregnant, has really slowed me down between months and months of sickness, medications, hospital and doctor visits, etc. Ironically, this baby has slowed me down (some) and who really thinks that rest and relaxation come from bringing a baby into this world? In my mind, I keep thinking, that having the baby (in the middle of the winter) will slow down time, work, expectations, etc. for me. Maybe, maybe not. That maybe this baby will help me better prioritize my work life, priorities, family expectations, etc. My past baby experiences have not led to these outcomes. I found myself more tired, in pain, frustrated and still working more than ever but with a newborn and with little sleep. Much like process of wintering, I struggle to slow down, be still, and enjoy life at this moment.
Wintering (to me) means to slow down, rest, and restore, then I need to work hard to redirect my mind and my heart. There is a passage in the book where the author uses the phrase of being “swallowed in calmness” and when I read those words, I thought “me too!!!! I want to be swallowed in calmness!!!” What a wonderful thought; I am not sure what feels like, but it sounds dreamy! Wintering is not an easy process or period in our lives, but we do “winter” at some point (annually if not more often) when it comes to pain, grief, tiredness, sickness, changes in seasons, relationships, stress, anxiety, etc. Embracing the process of “wintering” helps us to confront those challenges, learn, grow, think, reflect, restore ourselves or find ourselves.
I wish you luck with process of “wintering” and deciding what is means to you. To accept the process instead of fearing it. “Wintering” is part of life, it should not be feared, ignored, or skipped. There is something calming and restorative about “wintering” that is part of our lives physically, seasonally, and emotionally that we need to experience. I hope you find a way to embrace your “wintering”.