Winter: A Love Story

A strange thing happened.

I realized, just recently, that I like winter.

I might even love it.

winter field

This is a crazy revelation for me because for most of my life I’ve been a staunch spring and summer supporter. I have a summer birthday and my daughter and husband have spring ones, and there is nothing I love more than seeing the first pink flowers bloom on bare winter trees.

I was so happy that my first child was due at the end of April. Spring felt like the perfect time to give birth. Just as everything was awakening and blooming, there was my baby, in my arms, her sweet bow lips as rosy as those blossoms.

By the time my second child was born in early November, I had come to appreciate fall, a season I had formerly dismissed as simply a precursor to winter. My mother had always loved autumn and as a child this baffled me. Perhaps it was because I associated fall with the start of school and the end of summer’s freedom. I only began to enjoy it when I became a mother myself.

Maybe my new appreciation for winter is a natural shift.

In my old mindset, winter was the death of everything beautiful. Trees were bare, plants looked skeletal, and the cold was unbearable. I still don’t like the cold. That fact will probably never change. But what I realize now is that you can still love the winter.

This first dawned on me a few months ago when I watched the first snowfall of the season. I sat in my office as the flakes fell thick and wet, quickly covering the grass and frosting the tree branches. My heart thawed as I witnessed this transformation.

There is something to be said about winter’s stark beauty.

Photo Credit: DIDS' via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: DIDS’ via Compfight cc

The blacks and whites of tree branches and snow, the crystalline sparkling of ice, the glistening of icicles. One evening my daughter called me over to look outside. I ran to the window. Every surface of the backyard was sparkling as though dusted with glitter.

Maybe it’s the recent move from city to country that has opened my eyes. It was hard to appreciate winter in Brooklyn. The beauty of snow is quickly diminished by snowplows, boot tracks, and well, dogs.

There’s also the whole stroller problem. Have you ever tried to push a stroller through thick slushy snow, or slick patches of ice? Not fun. At all. Winter with small children in a city can be isolating and lonesome. You spend many hours holed up in small living quarters, and when you do venture out, it can be treacherous. I shouldn’t complain so much, we had a car, and that helped quite a bit, but I still struggled to get through the winter months. I ached for spring, counting the days until the first flowers pushed through the cold ground.

But here, in the country, surrounded by farmland, the snow is a thing of beauty. I no longer have to push my child in a stroller while the cold wind bites into my face. I can drive. The other day when I drove home after dropping my children off at school, I was struck by the loveliness of sleet.

Yes, sleet! It was not rain, not snow, but this strange amalgamation of the two. It looked like snow but melted the moment it hit the windshield. Another day I drove along the same road and watched snow blow in gusts across the street. It looked like sand or dust, flying over the fields. It was a little like magic.

In winter, things only appear dead. Beneath the snow packed ground there is life. There is energy in the branches of the apple tree, in the trunk, and in the roots. We just can’t see it. That energy, that life, is what will bear fruit in the spring. This season is about waiting. It’s about trusting. That can be hard to do.

As I look around the snowy landscapes on my many drives to and from school, to the museum, to play dates, to the café where I write some mornings, I realize that in some ways, this season represents my creative life after I had children. My writer self went into hibernation. But it was not dead, though I worried at times it might be.

I understand now that it was there all along, like the lifeblood of the trees in the orchard, waiting for the right moment to bloom again.

Photo Credit: roddh via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: roddh via Compfight cc

Now, finally, I can appreciate winter. The way it looks, the purpose of it. It makes so much sense for me, personally. I’m a homebody, a Cancer crab (in the astrological sense). I like hunkering down. I like warming up by the fire and drinking hot chocolate with my children, their red cheeks still cold from playing in the snow.

night snow

I like the forced solitude of the season, the inwardness of it.

I used to be the first to jump in with complaints about winter, and some days I still do, out of habit, but I understand now that while I may have claimed spring and summer as my own for most of my life, my personality has always leaned toward the other side.

What seasons do you feel most comfortable in, and why? Have your opinions of them changed over the course of your life?

I shared this post on Mum Turned Mom’s The Prompt, whose word this week is Winter. Click here to see what other writers have to say…

the prompt

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42 thoughts on “Winter: A Love Story

  1. I love your perspective–that winter is not the significance of everything dead, but a reminder that there’s life after it. I love spring, but winter is slowly making its way to the top of my list as well. Perhaps its majestic look of the snow when it falls or how everything looks afterwards (like one is inside a snow globe), but you’re right: there’s something to be said about winter’s stark beauty. Thank you for sharing this!

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    • Thanks so much Maria! I am still a lover of spring, too, but winter is definitely growing on me. The idea that things are not actually dead, and how that relates to the creative process at times, just occurred to me the other day and makes so much sense to me.

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  2. I’ve always loved winter. Probably because I grew up in Southern California and whenever we experienced winter it was on vacation. now that I live in a place with winter i still have this lingering association with the feeling of vacation. It helps to have the most gorgeous mountains looming over our city so when I’m driving I see their snowy peaks calmly watching over us. What I really love is a huge storm where we are forced to stay home and make cupboard stew from whatever we can find. I like the CHANGE of it all. Growing up our seasons were Hot, Warm and Santa Anas so I like having changes to look forward to – the first snow, park season, my favorite season- Fall. That being said, I have been known to go into a Rage Spiral when we can’t find all the mittens on our way to school. 🙂

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    • It makes sense to me that a California girl like yourself would have a soft spot for winter. As much as I used to complain about it, I always knew I’d miss the distinct seasons if I lived out west (though it is so gorgeous there!). I used to just “get through” winter in order to enjoy spring, and if the winter was bad I’d think it would just make spring that much sweeter, but I’m realizing that it’s ok to enjoy winter in and of itself… as long as every mitten is accounted for, of course!

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  3. This post really resonates with me. I’m not a fan of winter, or snow to be honest, but I have made peace with it. Our first winter in New England was awful, I hated every minute of it, for all the reasons you list; trying to walk anywhere, pushing a stroller through snow, isolation. But, then last year I approached it differently, embraced it I suppose, and got through it by looking at it through the eyes of my children. I wrote some very similar thoughts to yours in fact. This year, I’m trying… Four feet of snow in a week is pushing me to my limits though 🙂 But, I still try to see it through the eyes of my kids, and that was what inspired my almost-fiction for this week! Thanks so much for linking to #ThePrompt, I really enjoyed reading this, and understand completely.

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    • Thank you so much Sara! Winter in New England is kind of its own thing… I know it’s much fiercer than where I am living now. I can imagine how awful your first winter was, I know I would have been miserable too. But I agree with you that a small shift in attitude can go a long way. This is something I could benefit from remembering in ALL aspects of my life 🙂

      Thanks for this wonderful prompt! I’m really enjoying being part of it.

      Here’s hoping some of that snow melts for you so you don’t have to shovel it all…

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  4. What a beautiful depiction of winter. I m more of an autumn fan myself, i love the changing colours and freshness in the air after the hot summer. I also love the kids going back to school. I can relate as well to your creative self going into hibernation after having children. I didn t write for over 6 years, but i m finally getting back into my stride now which i am very grateful for.

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    • Yes, autumn is gorgeous, I absolutely love it now that I’m an adult. The colors and the flavors (pumpkin, yum…) are my favorites.

      Here’s to getting back to writing after a kid-induced hiatus. I’m grateful to have found my way back too!

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  5. That’s a really interesting take on winter and made me think about it in a new light. I certainly love those bright icy days when the frost twinkles on every blade of grass and paving slab. It does make the world feel a little bit magical. I think what I don’t like about it is the darkness. It’s such a dark season. And not being able to go outside in biting winds to let the kids blow off some steam. Funny the mention of pushing a stroller along icy pavements as that is essentially the basis of the story I wrote this week for the Prompt. 🙂

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    • Good point, I don’t much like the darkness either. And forget about stroller pushing, that is the worst! But from the coziness of indoors, when the kids aren’t clamoring to get out, it’s lovely. But I am looking forward to being able to breath in sweet spring air and not have my exhales come out like cold puffs of smoke 🙂

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  6. I appreciate the beauty of winter. It’s probably because I tend to be a homebody also. It’s enchanting to watch the snow pile up on the wrought iron fences and lining the details of the brownstones. Though I do feel bad for those parents pushing strollers through the snow and ice.

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  7. I am generally a summer person, but I definitely feel better about winter since we moved out of the city. It’s far easier to handle the cold and the wet without all the grey too! My son was born at the end of December two years ago and that gave me a real appreciation of the ‘inwardness’ of winter you refer to. Holing up for a month with a tiny baby and really not feeling like we had to go anywhere was pretty awesome 🙂

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    • There is nothing better, in some respects, than holing up during winter with a baby with little to no pressure to go out. Then when spring arrives, you and your baby are ready to check out some sweet blooming flowers!

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    • Thanks Megan! Summer is great, but lately I feel like I’d rather hide in winter than be out in the world during summer. Maybe that’s why I love spring so much, it’s the perfect in between season.

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  8. I have to admit – I curse it sometimes. Just trying to get to the driveway and the car.. it’s an ice skating rink! And how hard it is to get everyone out the door – coats and mittens and boots and warming up the car ten minutes first!
    I adore spring, summer and fall, and just sometimes, I adore winter too, but only because of the forced isolation. I guess I kinda like that!

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    • I know, today it took us about three hours to get the kids geared up for about a half hour in the snow. And don’t get me started on dealing with my three year old and mittens ! But yes, sometimes the forced isolation is just what I need.

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  9. Wow, what a beautiful post, I thought I had subscribed to your posts but by the looks of things it did not happen. (I just hit the follow button) I love winter too, the countryside here does mot get snow but we do get frosts. I love your thoughts on hibernation as a mum, we do give many of our passion away for a little while when the kids need us. Looks like life where you live is going well.

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    • Thanks Kath! I bet the frosts are gorgeous by you, and that your husband has no doubt captured some of that with his camera. The winter of my writing life made so much sense as I was thinking about this piece. Spring time, here I come!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve never heard anyone extol the virtues of sleet before! I kind of love all four seasons in a way, or at least, I think they all have something beautiful to offer – the colours of autumn, winter’s sparkly snow, spring’s burst of life and summer’s long languid days. Problem is, that’s the best those seasons give us and the worst is Autumn’s endless drizzle, Winter’s cold and rain, summer’s burning heat and spring… hang on, I can’t think of anything bad about spring! In the UK we moan about weather all the time – it’s part of national identity – but I actually think we’re lucky as our seasons are really different and all the contrasts between then make me appreciate the unique elements of each. Beautifully written post Dana. xx

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    • I couldn’t believe I was waxing poetic about sleet either 🙂 But perhaps most things, especially those you find in nature, have an element of beauty if you stop to look. You’re right on about each season having its pros and cons – but I can’t think of anything bad about spring either, though maybe the rain since it can get a bit soppy here. So funny that weather venting is part of the UK cultural identity! Thanks so much for your kind words Maddy.

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  11. Such a good attitude– I’ve gotten there, too, and mainly because I’m a pragmatist and I live in Minnesota. Winter is not going anywhere! (Though it’s been mild this year.) I’m sort of indoor bird anyway so at least in the winter I don’t have to feel guilty about so much time inside.

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    • Oh yes, Minnesota winters can be brutal (we used to have family there) but glad to hear it’s been mild this year. I’m an indoor bird too for sure!

      Sent from my iPhone.

      >

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  12. What a great way of looking at winter. I can see the beauty in the season, I just really dislike being cold and sometimes restricted due to poor weather. All other seasons I love in equal measure for different reasons.
    Great Post x

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  13. I needed this perspective, because I’ve been grumbling about winter this year. But I suppose I should focus on the beauty of winter, and the possibilities that follow the hibernation.

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  14. I love your transformation of seeing winter in a new way. Beautifully written. While I absolutely agree that winter has much beauty to it, and I never thought I’d ever feel this way – I find the older I get – the more I want to head for climate that is warmer all year long. But I must say that I do love winter for everything I tend to accomplish. It is my time for getting many projects done as summer can be a terrible (but lovely!) distraction for me.

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  15. Pingback: Time to Unfurl | writing at the table

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