What is Wintering?

I always have and always will be a summer baby, I love warm weather, wearing shorts and flip flops and eating lunch in the garden. Problem is, living in the North East of England means we probably get three months of summer at best, the rest of the time it’s grey and wet and cold. Dave and I have both suffered fro Seasonal Affective disorder before and since it’s winter way longer than it is summer in our neck of the woods, over the last few years I’ve made a conscious effort to embrace winter more. And there’s a name for this; Wintering. And it’s actually quite important.

Wintering has nothing to do with log fires or fluffy slippers. Author Kathryn May uses the word to describe those wintery moments in life, the downs that inevitably follow the ups of summer and the changing seasons. And since winter is a season of retreat and hibernation in nature, wintering describes the way our bodies and and minds slow down to embrace the rest it needs after a long hot summer (or long lukewarm summer if you live in the North East of England). It has also been linked to the grief period people experience directly after a period of loss or difficulty.

I definitely have found myself in that slowed down state of mind a few times in the past, most recently in the second lockdown of 2020. It was Halloween night and Dave and I went for a drink in or local pub, something we haven’t been able to do for the majority of the year. It was there that it was announced we would go into lockdown a second time, and as we will all remember, it pretty much remained that way until well into 2021.

I was running on half power for a lot of that winter. Thankfully, due to working from home, I was able to get out in the daylight for a run or a walk most days, but there’s only so many take aways and bottles of red wine you can treat yourself to to weekends to try and cheer yourself up before the drudgery starts to wear you down. I had very little energy or enthusiasm for anything and everything just felt like an extra effort. And I fought that feeling, I was longing summer to come around again to bring me back to life. But as Katherine May says;

‘Plants and animals don’t fight winter, they don’t pretend it isn’t happening or try living like it’s still summertime, instead they prepare for it, they adapt to it and then they retreat and let the season do its renewing work’

The clocks go back this weekend which means winter is upon us again and I’m determined not to waste it by constantly waiting for summer to come. Log fires, fluffy slippers and red wine sounds pretty decent to me. I also want to continue utilising the daylight hours whenever I can whether it’s walks with friends or coffees at farm shops or just shopping in town. Because times ticking on, and life’s too short to be wishing it was summer all the time.

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