When the days are the shortest, the nights are the coldest,The Secret Staircase, Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem
The frost is the sharpest, the year is the oldest,
The sun is the weakest, the wind is the hardest,
The snow is the deepest, the skies are the darkest,
Then polish your whiskers and tidy your nest,
And dress in your richest and finest and best…
For winter has brought you the worst it can bring,
And now it will give you
The promise of SPRING!
I grew up in SouthEast Texas and spring was in its glory by March. Now I live in New Hampshire and it’s difficult to explain to my parents why we can’t put seeds into the ground until the end of May. I’ve been here almost 12 years and I’m finally understanding why endless winters are so difficult.
But one of the best ways to make it through a long winter is to find ways to truly enjoy it. To appreciate it for its own season and know that it’s a part of the process – the experience of winter is why each discovery of a bud peeking through the snow is so exciting.
At the beginning of each February, Anne Bogel at the Modern Mrs. Darcy hosts a linkup celebrating mid-winter and the things have gotten us through the difficult moments of the season. This is one of my favorite posts of the year and I’m thrilled to join in again. If you’re interested, here are my past contributions:
I looked over these lists while preparing for today’s posts and chuckled at how consistent I’ve been over the last few years. I have to say that some of these might be repeats, so I hope I don’t bore you too much!
My notebooks. Here’s a recent post that I wrote describing how I use them. I write my morning pages daily, read a passage from the Bible in the morning and at night and journal about those (despite my complicated feelings about religion and the Bible), and set a daily intention. I end the day by ticking tasks off of my tasklist, thinking about what needs to happen the next day, writing a few lines about the day’s highlights, and filling in my writing log. There’s a bit more information in the post linked.
Doing those things each day creates a structure and an intention that I didn’t have before. I wake up super early to get it done, which means that I’m up and productive long before any of my three children are (usually). Before they wake up, I’ve taken time for myself which allows me to give them more than I’ve ever been able to imagine. I can safely say that I’d be a completely different person without these morning and evening routines.
Our bird feeder is still a huge part of my day. I’m learning to identify more birds, which is crazy exciting. It’s fun to have the whole family gather around and watch the birds feast.
When I first started watching our birds a couple of years ago, I could only identify cardinals and hummingbirds. Seriously. I thought bird guides were ridiculous – how could I even begin to find one tiny bird in that huge book? But every year, I learn a couple more birds and their calls. Every year, I look at a bird and think, “maybe that’s a finch?” And look up the finches in our Sibley Bird Guide, study the differences, and get a little closer to pinning down the particular breed. I’m learning and so are my children.
My Phenology chart has been crucial. Every day I look at how much earlier the sun rises and how much later it sets. The sun on January 31st will be out 50 minutes longer than on January 1st. 50 minutes??! Isn’t that amazing? This picture of my phenology chart is from earlier this month, but I’ll be sharing a completed picture soon — and I can’t wait!
Exploring Nature with Children is a fun curriculum that I just started using with my oldest. It celebrates the seasons and helps us appreciate how important winter is for nature. For instance, January had a focus on the winter sky and on winter trees – both equally amazing. This curriculum is full of ideas about books to read and activities that will strengthen your bond with nature, no matter the season. And a bonus – I’m learning a lot, too!
The Fedco seed catalog is out and we’ve been marking it all up. Every year I proclaim that this will be the year that I keep up the garden for the entire summer! I’m hoping that’s the case this time. I also hope to learn how to effectively freeze and put away some of our goods, rather than let it languish on the counter until it’s only good for our chickens.
And this is when my copy of Tasha Tudor’s Garden comes off the shelf and gets thumbed through endlessly. Tasha’s cottage was in neighboring Vermont, so she also suffered through long winters while waiting for her glorious blooms to appear each spring. I love all of the flower photos in this book and have found this to be a field guide of its own – this is the book that has taught me to identify flowers.
So, what’s been saving my life this winter? Taking time for myself. Focusing on the beauty of the season and learning more about my environment during winter. And, of course, dreaming about spring!
What’s been saving your life?