No winter blahs!

Here we are, looking through a misty window at a combination of short days, grey skies, humidity, and what seems like a constant drip. Winter can seem like a hard time to enjoy being outside, when you’re near the Salish Sea off BC’s Wet Coast. Excuses are abundant: it’s too cold for gardening, too grey for feeling good, too wet for cycling, too warm for skiing, too windy for walking – it’s just too much.

But we live here anyway, don’t we? By choice, in most cases. So make the most of it! As the saying goes, have fun until you enjoy it.
Really now, there’s no excuse for feeling down. Birds and animals do fine. I’ve never see a critter with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Trees still stand up, dancing in the wind and glistening in the rain. They’re beautiful with needles or with bare branches. Some keep their berries or apples well into the winter, reminding all of us why they do what they do.

Winter weather is no reason to fall victim to Nature Deficit Disorder and the ills that accompany it. But what to do, what to do…?

– Get outside in daylight. Stare at the brightest spot in the clouds, and drink in the light with your eyes and skin. Never mind the dark; look for the light.

– Remember that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. Get out your water resistant or waterproof coat. Put on some synthetic wicking fabrics. Wear boots, even if they’re Wellies, or prepare yourself not to be annoyed by wet feet. Better yet, go outside barefoot in the rain! Treat yourself to some real reality!

– Go for a walk in a storm, in the wind. Walk near water and watch the gulls. They are truly magnificent flyers, coasting across a wind and swooping like Jonathan Livingstone. Look, really look, at rain falling on water. Lift your face and taste the rain.

– Go out at night. Where’s your favourite walking place? Go there after dark – there’s lots of dark after 6 pm in the middle of winter – and see how absolutely transformed the landscape is when all you have is a headlamp or flashlight. Then turn your light off and stand for a few minutes. Magic will happen as your eyes adjust, and your hearing sharpens in response to something deep inside.

Adjust your attitude! Feel admiration for the juncos and deer, and all the other critters who do just fine out there without boots or rain gear or a hot cup of tea back in the house. Learn your attitude from the irrepressible enthusiasm for life of the chickadees. Notice the beauty in the overwintering plants.

See differently. See different things. Look at the buds on the trees. Notice how the alders and the hazelnuts already have their catkins, and watch how those catkins grow in February into amazing long dangling strings, getting a jump on spring that makes even the most optimistic gardeners envious. Look at the skeletons of the leaves on the ground as they go back into the earth. On a cold morning, you might be treated to frost flowers, those delicate white curves of fine ice that emerge from waterlogged wood when the night freezes.

Then go back inside. There’s nothing like a cup of your favourite when you’ve earned it. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find to your surprise that once you’ve warmed up again, all you want to do is get back out there again.

I’ll be looking for you.

Posted December 11 2021

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