People like to tease me because at the start of each new season I loudly proclaim it to be my favorite. In fall, I’ll shamelessly reach for the apple cider, the pumpkin pie, the hearty soups and crusty breads, wrap myself up in sweaters, and delight in every new colored leaf. In winter, Christmas is my end-all-be-all, the one that pulls at my heart strings through family and tradition and the Nativity. This year was the first I was able to decorate my own home and I was thrilled to hear one friend declare upon entering that “it looks like a Christmas store in here.” In summer, I live off the sweet smoke of a bonfire, the cool of the mornings, farmers markets, fresh watermelon with sea salt ground over top. The moment where the seasons change is like the ringing of church bells.
It’s everything in between that makes me crazy. January through March. Late July. December 28th. It’s like perpetually living at 3pm on a Wednesday.
The first months of the calendar year are when I tend to let things like meal planning or cleaning or working out slide the most. They’re gloomy and rainy and I’ve been loading my system with bailey’s hot chocolate since October. I cocoon myself in Netflix and leftovers and though it might seem like I’d read plenty during this season, curled up and content, my TBR pile lays abandoned on my nightstand.
I’m grumpier, hungrier, lazier. I snap. I don’t eat what will fuel my body well, instead reaching for more popcorn, more pizza, more cheese, more comfort. It takes more effort that it reasonably should to get out of bed and heaven forbid I have a day off because in that case I won’t even put on a bra until three.
I try to do winter intentionally, I really do. I drink my water. I drag myself to the gym after dark. I try to get out despite the cold and the comfiness of my sweatpants. But the seasonal mood swings are real, ya’ll. And it doesn’t help that everyone else seems to feel the same. It’s January and we’ve got our heads down, noses glued to our pages of resolutions, hurrying home to blast the heat and scroll through all of the movies on our Netflix list that we don’t have the emotional bandwidth to process right now.
But then, miraculously, spring arrives. Every year. Despite my insistence that this year it’s just not going to happen and I LIVE IN THIS HOODIE NOW AND IT WILL BE GREY FOREVER SO YES NETFLIX I AM STILL WATCHING.
Despite me, she sneaks in anyway with her scrawny squirrels, longer days, and color to spare and I swear I come back to the world of the living along with everything else. I read. I write (obviously). I throw open the windows whenever the temperature gets above 50 which is driving Nick a little crazy but the cat loves to sit at the window so she and I stand there and I take gulps of fresh air like I’ve been starving all winter long. In some ways, I feel like I have. I cook. I clean every darn thing under the glorious sun. Anything I’ve gotten sick of cleaning in the past few months gets chucked. No remorse. Get all of that winter crap OUT OF HERE. And while we’re at it get ME out of here! I’m pretty sure I’ve dragged Nick on more walks outside than he thought possible. Lunchtime at work? OUTSIDE. There’s a bench! I don’t care if it’s in the Target parking lot, there is a patch of sunshine and I can feel my soul shriveling under these fluorescent lights…
I think there’s a way for me to do winter better.
I just finished reading Shauna Niequist’s book Bread and Wine where this quote stood out to me (among some other gems). And while she was particularly talking about food for most of the book, in this quote she hints at a broader application for our lives.
“I’m learning, slowly, a rhythm of feasting and fasting that brings a rich cadence to my year. I use the word fasting loosely, as an opposite term to feasting-permission and discipline, necessary slides back and forth along the continuum of how we feed ourselves.”Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine
Again, I think there’s a way to do winter better. To fast better. More gently and honestly and, frankly, productively. I’m sure the long hours of darkness will still get to me, but I think there are ways to keep myself from getting to spring and looking back only to realize I’ve been starving, not fasting. Been mindless, not mindful, in the valley.
All of this to say: Spring is here now and, per usual, I’ve declared it to be my absolute favorite season. The windows are open as I write this and last weekend I made us take our entire apartment apart so I could cram the vacuum into every nook. The cat thought she could hide under the bed until we moved that too. I think she’ll forgive me eventually.
So as I look forward to the summer and feel the potential energy building behind this next transition – I’m going to try to keep in mind this pendulum of feasting and fasting and using the momentum to lead me through the in-betweens.