The butterflies have awoken early, stirred into action by unseasonably warm weather rarely experienced during February. Just weeks ago, my youngest little boy and I were on a moody winter walk, looking for signs of the season he could report back to his class teacher after the weekend; our noses and cheeks glowed, ripped raw by the cold. Today, I feel the sun’s kiss across my cheeks and tuck my jacket into the straps of my handbag. I try to forget, just for a moment, what this clement weather means for the environment.
Some celebrate the change in temperature, but I yearn for those frosty mornings and motionless evenings; when the air is dark and still, and unforgiving in its chill. I long for winter and her sullen melodies to sing me to sleep once again.
We inched our way across the field, the frozen blades of grass crunching beneath our feet. The morning’s frost a formidable blanket that stretched as far as the eye could see. It crackled and moaned into life with very tread. Our dragon breaths disturbed the icy air. Each breath warmed our cheeks, before we let it out dancing into the wild blue to be lost to us forever. My son and I were in search of winter, and had found her untamed beauty just moments from our home.
The sun stooped low in the sky, lighting our way towards the woodlands that lay before us. As we crossed the frozen football pitch the trees loomed, forming a jewel-encrusted cavern peppered with diamond dewdrops and emeralds that danced between roots and branches. We ducked and entered a bold, beautiful world.
Winter can be a time of despair for many. Its colder, darker and far bleaker days can trigger seasonal affective disorder and depressive moods, and tend drive people inside away from the comforts that nature can provide. The leaves have long departed, paving the way for rattling branches and eerie whispers. Many of the species that we’ve become accustomed to seeing during spring and summer have long moved on. Hopelessness seems to hang in the air. However, there is still so much to be enjoyed as summer and early autumn melt away to reveal a cold and barren landscape.
I have never made any secret of the anxieties that plague many of my waking moments. Oftentimes I am exhausted, spurred on by the love of two little boys who rely on my strength and seek out my love and approval. I have comfort enough for them. Whenever I feel empty I venture outside, and allow nature to sharpen my senses, focus my mind and relieve my worries. It is here, and now, that I have discovered how wonderful winter can be, and how graceful she is in the face of one person’s despair. Winter is wild, unpredictable and isolating. However, she can also be tender and magical, awakening childlike innocence and a sense of fun with a dusting of snow or a musical breeze. The wild world beyond my doorstep is my clinic; a place I turn to when my mind swirls unbearably and I lose my way. I discovered its therapy during the warm spring and summer months, but continued our sessions as autumn and then winter took hold. Look around, and you too may discover the glories of winter’s counsel.
Our woodland walk has blessed us with treasures indeed. My camera reel is filled with pictures of leaves tenderly wrapped in frost, and frozen droplets clinging to bark. My son’s feet are cold within his wellies, and we begin the short walk home filled with a sense of triumph at completing our mission. My fingers are sore. Deep coat pockets have provided sweet, but short-lived relief from the cold in between snapping pictures of the things we’ve seen. I think about spring and her warm welcome; of the animals, birds and insects awakening and busying themselves with being alive. Winter is cold and lonely, but I find myself taking comfort in its dark corners, sharp winds and driving rains. Despair vanishes, washed away by the storm. I understand why some dread its fierce grip and unpredictability, but I live for winter’s passionate bellows.
The sun lowers in the sky, despite the time of day. All too soon it will take its rightful place among the heavens, and warms the earth beneath. We wander, hand in hand, my boy and I. Winter has delighted our senses.
The winter as we know it may be over, but her trace still dapples the earth. Winter’s touch is an icy windscreen before the morning commute, and the chill in the air when you close the door for the evening. She is the slow, graceless sun as it rises through the mist, and the last rattles of the breeze through windows opened to hastily. Spring has begun to warm hearts and minds, but winter nudges me onwards and reminds me that it’s okay to falter sometimes. I urge her to stay a little longer, so that I can wrap up warm and protect my world from harsh realities laid bare by bright lights and new beginnings. Winter, you are my comfort.
Explore the season with your senses. What does winter sound, smell, feel, taste and look like? Gather the words that best represent the season, and its meaning for you. Allow winter to write her own poetry. We’d love to read your compositions, and share them with others!