My worst habit is I get so tired of winter
I become a torture to those I’m with.
Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it will your heart survive.
Be forever dead in Eurydice — more gladly arise
into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.
Be — and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.
To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb
creatures in the world’s full reserve, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.
–Rainer Maria Rilke, SONNETS TO ORPHEUS II, 13
As the first flakes from winter storm Pax had just begun to fall outside yesterday, I’ll admit I was looking forward to the snow, but my bones have been cold a little too long this winter. I’m trying really hard to be in the moment and enjoy it for what it is and take comfort in knowing that warmer weather and green-ness is soon to be here. But my enthusiasm for gray days and long nights is waning.
My husband was in Raleigh on a work trip, but he left early to make it home ahead of the storm yesterday. He just made it. He arrived at home, safe and sound!
After 24 hours of on and off snow showers, we have about seven inches of fluffy powdery snow. It’s so beautiful and everything is so quiet outside. I do love it when I get snowed in! It’s a great excuse to have a nice slow day, cook a pot of soup, and catch up on reading, play board games, or watch movies in the middle of the day. It kind of makes me feel like a kid again, when time moved slower. Honestly though, I can’t wait to walk barefooted through the grass again…
At least the temperatures have been much warmer. During the last snowy spell and arctic-air-mass-jet-wave-vortex thing that hit at the first of the month, we brought our mattress into the living room.
We don’t have central heating and there no reason to try to heat a bedroom at night in zero degree weather when you can sleep much more comfortably by a nice warm fire. I love a cool room at night, but when the weight of the blankets prevents you from moving, it’s a bit much. We only took the mattress back last weekend because we enjoyed it so much. It actually got me interested in shopping for Japanese style sofas! Now with this snow, I kind of wish the bed were still in the living room. It’s the perfect spot to read and nap.
It’s funny; last year during the summer heat I was romanticizing the winter and fondly remembering my techniques for keeping warm when I wrote the following:
The temperature outside right now is 87 degrees. It’s probably 82 inside my house and maybe more like 90 or so upstairs in my attic studio. It’s not unbearable, but it is hot and humid. It’s like working outside on a hot summer day. I usually work fine up there with a fan on. I drink lots of water, and cool myself with a wet bandana tied around my neck. When I come downstairs to a nearly 10 degree cooler air temperature, it feels as if I’ve stepped into some refreshing air conditioned space….Compared to the attic studio, the main floor feels heavenly. It’s all relative….
We don’t have air conditioning. When my husband and I moved into our house, we went right out on the first hot day and bought ourselves a window air conditioning unit. We installed it, closed up all the windows, and turned that baby on! We instantly frowned and looked at each other…it was LOUD! And we couldn’t hear the birds and we were so separated from the outside. We continued to use it for maybe three or four days and then we never, ever turned it back on. The noise and separation from the outside world wasn’t worth the coolness it provided. We’d rather hear the wind rustle the leaves and birds chirping and the rain and distant thunder!
So, we’ve learned to live with the seasons and adapt. In the summer, it doesn’t even feel that hot. Provided it gets cool enough at night, the house stays cool until late into the afternoon when the evening sun strengthens. The best part about adapting to our situation is that it feels less hot when we go outside, and as a result, we spend more time outside. The worst part is that any air conditioned place of business feels abnormally cold and unbearable at times…Do we really need to be kept that cold? Being indoors in an air conditioned space makes ones tolerance for heat go way down and lessens ones ability to cope with heat extremes.
On super humid days, when the afternoon sun is the hottest and the humidity nearly unbearable, we go to the woods to our secret pool for a quick dip. It’s so cold that you can’t stay in long, but oh, how refreshing, just to dive into that cold, clear, clean water. It’s soul cleansing; it washes away the crankiness, the sweat, the heat exhaustion….We put our clothes back on, saunter back down the trail to the car, ride home with the windows down, and by the time we get back, it has cooled down and we are pleasantly cool and relaxed.
(Ah, summer, I love you!)
Winter brings its own set of challenges, what with living in a drafty old house. Again, we have to adapt to the spirit of the seasons. Our first winter in this house, we nearly froze….we didn’t know how to be comfortable without central heating. Each winter, we’ve figured out more and more coping strategies. Here are a few of ours:
1.HOBO CHIC fashion styling-this consists of layers and layers of clothing that can be added or taken off to adjust to temperatures and activity levels. My layer order looks like this: camisole top, long sleeved insulating layer, t-shirt, hoodie or other shirt, wool sweater or fleece, tights or long underwear worn under pants….Yep, just wear all your clothes at once.
2.I’ll say it again, WOOL SWEATERS! Don’t be fooled by the paltry warming qualities of synthetic fleece, my friends. Wool is the supreme insulating fiber! Too itchy for you? Wear a shirt underneath. Too hard to wash? Just don’t let it agitate. I put mine in the washer and dry it flat. Also, it doesn’t need to be washed that often, really, especially since it is an outer layer. If your favorite sweater gets a hole in it, don’t throw it out. Make do and mend!
3.DRINK hot tea, coffee, or cocoa to get warmed up, especially those cold hands. Or whiskey…
4.A SCARF! If my neck is cold, my entire body is cold, no matter how many layers I’m wearing.
5.MOVE AROUND. Still cold after all the other fixes? Just do some simple stretches, yoga, or dance around or do some jumping jacks. You’ll warm up in no time!
6. GO OUTSIDE for a walk. If you go outside where it’s even colder, it will feel toasty warm by comparison when you come back inside.
You can use any of these strategies for staying warm this winter, while turning down your thermostat a few degrees, thus saving money and energy resources! Try it…you may just enjoy embracing the winter season with your own favorite wool sweater. Roaming around barefoot inside is solely a summertime activity at our house; one that we relish, along with wearing short-sleeved shirts and sleeping in our underwear! Ah, the simple things.
You can get used to anything…
I feel like that’s still quite true, but right now, I just want to get warm and stay warm and not have to work at it quite so hard.
But, I’ll endure and so will you, wherever you are. I’m actually really happy that I live in a place that has seasons. Change is good for the soul and I am so looking forward to it. I wish you warmth and wellness. Spring will be here soon, chickadees, and oh, how we will be all the more grateful for it!