First off, Happy 2021! It’s been a crazy year hasn’t it? With the vaccine being rolled out now there is hope on the horizon and ‘hope’ is my word of this year. Hope is something that we all want and need at this time in all of our lives. It is with this word in mind that I had an idea to further explore the moment now that we find ourselves in and to try to accept, embrace and work with it instead of fighting or avoiding it. Pre Covid, when Winter hit, it was often a time where people could think of going away on holiday to escape the grey gloom of the UK and to explore warmer climes abroad. As we find ourselves in another lockdown, this isn’t possible, as travel is out of the question. Therefore, we have no choice but to live with Winter in this country or wherever we happen to be at this time and that doesn't have to be a bad thing.
I’ve always thought that Autumn is my favourite season and think it always will be, but I’m trying to appreciate more what’s happening in the moment with the outside world. For gardeners, Winter can seem like a bleak time as lots of plants go into a kind of hibernation and we can worry when snow and frosts hit our more tender plants. However, we’ve decided to use this fallow time as a planning time, you can really see the shape of the borders in Winter and also as plants have died back you can see the space around them more and plan accordingly. We’ve also decided to order and incorporate plants such as dogwood, spindleberry and callicarpa that hold Winter interest, to extend the seasons and so that the garden is as exciting in Winter as it is in Summer. If we lose a few plants this time as may be the case then we've found the best thing to do is just to pull them up and start again with something a bit hardier. I think more and more we've learnt that gardening is always a bit of an experiment and sometimes things go well and sometimes they don't, but the things that don't work out provide an opportunity to try something else that might do better next time.
Winter is also a great time to get cosy and use lighting in your house effectively to help to brighten the area and bring a bit of cheer. My friend Juliet has got some gorgeous lights recently for her lovely cabin from Cable & Cotton see: cableandcotton.com/product-category/cotton-ball-lights/fairy-light-sets/. I have my eye on a teal set for the future to hang across the bookcases in the lounge.
Something that’s been helping me in the colder months and indeed all through this time is wearing a scent everyday. In the past, I only used to wear perfume or EDT when I went out to a lunch, to visit friends or on holiday, but now as we’re all going out less, I thought why not wear it anyway and it’s really helped my mood and just to feel a bit more cheerful. I flit between different scents such as testers from Floral Street, Roger & Gallet and some M&S ones. I’ve also been using body butters as the skin on my arms particularly can get quite dry. I’ve already written about the importance of scent in another post but I do find that in the colder months that I prefer the warmer, more nourishing scents such as shea, almond butter or my all time favourite Vanilla Pumpkin body butter from The Body Shop.
Nourishment is also so important in the Winter. We recently purged our collection of cookbooks as we’d been given some vegan ones for Christmas and we’ve found an excellent dahl recipe in one that we use and adapt by Katy Berskow called Easy Vegan Bible. It’s already become a new favourite and is so comforting on a cold day and lovely with some added carrot and spinach. We’re vegetarian but plan to incorporate more vegan recipes and food into our diet this year for both health reasons and to help the planet.
Social connection is currently harder in the Winter months as we prefer to spend more time indoors as the weather is often pretty bad here. Virtual connections are the safest way to spend time at the moment and are increasingly important. I belong to a writing class that meets once a week on Zoom and it’s great to get your writing brain in gear and catch up with friends too.
Exercise might need to be changed, unless you're a seasoned walker with all weather gear, it can be tricky to get outdoors everyday in Winter. We’re lucky to have a good sized garden, so if it looks fairly bleak and like it might pour soon, I try to have a few minutes outdoors. The good thing is we’ve got an exercise bike we can exercise indoors and also do yoga or pilates safely without having to come in completely cold and drenched.
Something I’ve also noticed is the importance of different colours throughout the seasons. In Winter we see the white or newly fallen snow coating silhouettes of black stemmed trees, the pale greys of slushed ice. Christmas and christmas party outfits bring brighter colours such as rich reds, greens and deep blues and purples and plums and metallics. Also red and gold is seen frequently due to its association with the Chinese Lunar New Year. This year it’s the year of the Ox.
As it’s cold outside and we’re spending more time indoors we may end up watching and reading more. I managed to smash my Goodreads target last year of 75 books by reading 100. I’ve set a rather more modest target of 50 this time. My favourite reads of last year were: The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel, The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, The Dry by Jane Harper, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Annapurna and Nothing Can Hurt you by Nicola Maye Goldberg. These were all books that I ended up thinking about long after I’d finished reading them and have stayed with me.
As for television, The Serpent TV adaptation was really good, though if you’ve not read the book before you watch it you might find it a bit confusing as the timelines do jump around a lot. I also recently watched Bling Empire on Netflix which is a reality show looking at the lives of a group of very rich Asian friends living in Los Angeles and the character Kevin is a real hoot in it! He’s very funny! I've also finished Season Three of Cobra Kai, also on Netflix and can’t wait for Season Four, though expect there’ll be a long delay due to Covid.
These are my seasonal Winter reflections. If you have anything that's particularly helping you during this season then get in touch on social media and let me know.