I’ve been hearing moans and groans from the adults around me lately: “Oh, no, winter is coming.” “Better enjoy these last warm days – soon the snow will be here.” ” I hate winter. I already have the winter blues.” I can’t say that I haven’t had a twinge of anticipatory dread myself; autumn is such a glorious season, and this one was particularly so here in Colorado. It’s hard to let go of those “perfect” seasons – autumn and spring – when you know the cold of winter or heat of summer is just around the corner.
But when I walked in to greet Everest good morning and told him to open up the curtains, he literally did somersaults of joy before even laying eyes on the snow. He squealed and yelped and Asher, who imitates his big brother’s every move, followed suit. So at 7am, before the sun had fully awoken, my two boys had brought the celebration of winter into our home. It wasn’t long before the four of us were suited up in snow gear and tromping through the blankets of beauty.
The truth is that I love winter. I resist it at first, and it is annoying to wear so many layers of clothes, but there is a magic of winter that fills me with the deepest joy and inspires a smile from the inside out. Part of the reason why we left Los Angeles four years ago was because I’ve always longed to live in seasons. It makes sense, of course, given my passion for transitions, that my soul couldn’t settle down until I had found a place to live where I could experience these quarterly changes so directly.
I wonder about the adults’ dread in contrast to the child’s joy. I wonder if the dread isn’t at all about what the adults think it’s about. For just like the stress about planning a wedding isn’t really about the flowers and the dress, so the anxiety about winter isn’t really about the cold and the hassle. I think it’s two-pronged: One, most of us have forgotten how to access the child’s joy inside of us, the one that revels in making snow balls and snow cones and sledding down hills. (If you live near snow, have you been sledding lately? It’s better than a roller-coaster! And when’t the last time you scooped up a handful of snow and drizzled it with blueberry juice? Yum.)
But I think the primary cause of the resistance to winter is that it invites us to turn inward, a place that most people don’t like to spend a lot of time. We, as a culture, like to stay active and busy. Winter is the season of introspection and memories. We like to move and engage socially from dawn until dawn. Winter is the liminal stage of the four seasons, a place of stillness, silence and solitude. We resist winter because to surrender to its invitation would mean slowing down and touching those empty places within. It’s not something that most people do easily.
But oh, the joy that arises when we take the risk and step outside our warm house at 7:15 am! Children will do that – encourage us to step outside our comfort zone – and when we take their hands and follow them into the cold, they bring us to places of untold happiness.