It happens every year in many parts of the world. The days get shorter, the gardens get tilled under, the lawnmower goes into storage. Heavy coats and hats and sweaters get pulled out of storage, and chili starts sounding good again. Frost appears in the morning grass where dew used to be, and you can see your breath when you walk around the block. And then it snows. Winter is coming.
Granted, not every place on the earth sees harsh winter weather, but plenty of places have their fair share of cold and wind and dark.Daylight in the northern hemisphere wanes as the winter solstice approaches, and sometimes if we aren’t careful, whole days can go by without feeling any sun – however cold it might be – on our faces. Cabin fever sets in, and we start to wait for spring.
But…..maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. What if we could embrace whatever Mother Nature decides to dole out and made getting outside a priority no matter how cold or wet or snowy or dark it gets? I think it’s worth it to give old man winter a little love. Because a whole season with no natural light and letting a little cold weather keep us inside? Every year? No way, man. No. Way. Life’s too good to spend it waiting for summer.
So how do we embrace ALL the elements?
- Learn how to layer. Invest in some good quality wool or synthetic base layers, some thermal fleece or heavier wool for a mid layer, and a vest for when it’s really, really cold.Add a waterproof shell, (thermal if you live in Norway, Alaska, or northern Minnesota) a good quality hat and some mittens and you are all set to go.Get a scarf or something else to cover your face for the windy days and swear off cotton.Then take a deep breath and walk into the wind. You might even find it exhilarating. Really, there’s nothing better than a stiff cold wind to remind you that you’re alive.
- Take up some winter sports. I’m not saying you need to become proficient at ice climbing or learn to ski jump. But rent some snowshoes from your local outdoors store. Try cross country skiing. Get some trekking poles and use them to navigate around the icy patches on your usual walking route in your neighborhood. Walk through the snow or rain and let it melt onto whatever skin is still exposed and be part of winter, instead of just an observer.
- Connect with your inner child. Remember those days of your youth when you used to go sledding? Or made snow angels or snow forts in the backyard? Or spun around trying to catch snowflakes or rain drops on your tongue? Do that again. If you have kids, join them! Encourage them if you have to. Have a snowball fight. Splash through cold puddles. Make a snow castle. Winter’s fun when you are a kid, and we were all kids once. It’s still in there somewhere. Go find your playfulness.
- Embrace the concept of “Hygge” — a Danish word that, according to author Helen Dyrbye, “is the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality and contentment rolled into one.” Hygge is peeling off your frosty winter coat after some frigid laps around the frozen pond and discovering that someone built a fire in the wood stove while you were outside. Hygge is sipping a craft beer at a local pub and smiling at a stranger who sighs in contentment upon walking into a room filled with cheerful chatter. Hygge is sitting down at the kitchen table to journal by candle light in the predawn darkness while the coffee perks. Hygge is warm blankets, fresh bread straight from the oven, steaming mugs of tea, crackling fires, good books, children whispering in a corner, acoustic guitar music and conversations that mean something.
- Remember that the challenges of winter make summer that much sweeter.
So, friends, let us all embrace whatever elements are on the other side of our four walls right now and keep “going outside” on the priority list no matter what the weather man says.
This post originates at We Are Wildness University, a great place for inspiration in all things Nature.