Winter is coming and I’m so glad
Mornings are getting darker now. Crispy, cool air sneaks in through open windows at night. My wool slippers have been dug out from the back of my closet. The kindling basket next to the wood stove has been filled.
Winter is coming and I’m so glad.
Not for the cold. Workouts in long johns and parkas always feel constricted. Breaking ice with a sledge hammer never feels fun, despite best efforts to convince myself it’s honest labour. Sitting on the concrete bench of an unheated hockey rink when it’s -30c outside is a special type of hell reserved for the dutiful and delusional.
Alas, the frozen toes and multiple layers of clothing are all worth it. All those busy summer and fall days, harvesting and processing our food, bring slow mornings warming ourselves by the wood cook stove. Lingering with steaming cups of coffee or tea over long conversations. Board games with suppers, feasting on fatty ribs. Skating on our pond. Lying on a bed of downy snow while staring at that winter blue sky in absolute silence, save the ever-industrious woodpeckers and the shushing of cedar bows above. Feasts with farmer friends that have surfaced from their busy seasons, too.
Winter is magic. Winter is quiet celebration. A luxurious slowness befalls the weary body. I am as tied to the seasons of our place in the world as I am to my understanding of self. I don’t just eat seasonally, we live seasonally. It seems a mandate of nature that we have overridden with technology.
I was up at 4:30 this morning. I don’t know why. But I found myself reading a good book in my kitchen. My three dogs, a motley bunch, vying for my attention. A fresh pot of bone broth bubbling on the stove. My daughter has to wake up at 5:30 to catch her country school bus. She doesn’t like being rushed so gives herself an extra thirty minutes so she doesn’t have to be. It’s nice to have that morning time with her, talking quietly about her world while the rest of life still sleeps. It’s our time to be alone, a time before putting on our armour to take on the world. She gives me her vulnerability and I listen.
We had a bigger farm before we moved here. It was a vortex of endless tasks and overwhelming exhaustion. We weren’t twenty anymore and that wasn’t what we wanted out of life. Our older daughters watched as we drove ourselves into the ground, coming in from tasks at midnight, so busy we had to make dates in our agenda to really spend time together. So we re-evaluated as we do.
It’s always been Us first, that being my husband and I. That’s the deal. Then family. Then who cares what. It wasn’t working. We didn’t know where we even were in priorities, but it was far down the list.
So, we packed up an entire farm, a task not for the faint of heart, and we moved here. Downsized. Slowed down. Put ourselves and our family where they needed to be.
There’s still many tasks the busy warm seasons bring. It’s not a small undertaking to grow, raise, forage, dry, preserve, ferment, harvest, hunt, and butcher one’s own food. It’s a lot of work, to be sure. But work is not bad, it’s life. It’s what we are here to do. There needs to be a distinction between “busy” and purposeful work. Any meaningless or frivolous task brings distress.
Our work feeds us completely – body, mind, and grateful souls.
So, bring on winter. And like the wilds we are a part of, we will slow down. Rest. Hibernate. Marvel at the beauty of it all.
The pictures are of the sunrise over our beautiful lake, my morning attention-seeking crew, and a walk harvesting treasures in our forest yesterday.