The bleak midwinter, Christina Rossetti called it. And while her poem is lovely, living with continual strings of short, cold, sunless days is not.
I believe that there is a time for everything, even bleak days. And yet. It’s at such times when my practice of pausing occasionally to ponder the path, to take stock of each season’s gifts and graces saves me from giving in to cabin fever and its ilk. Winter’s good graces are less obvious than those of the more temperate seasons. I find it’s possible to uncover them, though, when I’m intentional about looking.
Here, at winter’s midpoint, is a list of some of the gifts and graces currently keeping me sane, reminding me to be grateful, saving my life in the little ways that matter.
- Fire, as in, that it’s not a mystery and I can build one: Whether atop a candle or tucked into our wood burner, it warms our home and lifts my spirits.
- Down: Over the past few years I’ve turned into one of those cold people. Down makes winter survivable.
- Unseasonable weather: A reminder that even in the deepest winter, autumn existed and spring is on its way.
- The sun: No matter how rare its appearance, it reminds me of fresh starts and new mercies.
- Tea: Because cold, dark mornings.
- Coffee shops: Even though I’ve never taken to coffee, I like people and people like coffee.
- Boot weather: Because boots just don’t work in the summer.
- Cast Iron: Because the crockpot doesn’t cut it for The Pioneer Woman’s Spicy Shredded Pork and this beef stew. (I adapt these recipes to make them friendly to a lower-glycemic way of eating by cutting the brown sugar out of the pork, and skipping the flour and substituting radishes for the potatoes in the stew. The family didn’t notice when I axed the sugar even though I’ve been making the pork according to the recipe for years. Also, I won’t eat radishes raw, but roasted or cooked in a stew, they’re mild and lovely.)
- Fleece Sheets. (See #2) Sleep comes faster when I’m warm.
- The sky: Even during a winter that’s given up precious little sunshine, the sky often puts on a quiet show as the sun sets. Somehow, this gives me hope.
- The days following winter solstice: The longest nights give way more quickly than I’d realized to increasing daylight. It’s noticeable by early January.
- Home: After lots of days running here and there with extracurriculars, I’m grateful for a landing-place.
- Rhythms: That abundance precedes want.
- Bedtime reading: Because sometimes there just isn’t enough time during the day. This winter’s favorites (so far): Jane Austen’s Persuasion (a regular reread) and Michelle DeRusha’s Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk.
What gifts and graces are making a difference in your life this winter?