I come from a family that decorates enthusiastically for Christmas, and tends to finally get around to packing away the baubles, nutcrackers, and lights sometime after the new year begins. Even as the days get longer, they often get more gray in our part of the world. True winter settles in just as we take down the bright, sparkling decorations, and as we’re short of family birthdays at the beginning of the year, it can feel like a cold slog toward spring. When I was younger, I used to look forward to the first thaw and all it brought: no more need for a coat and mittens, new plants and flowers emerging every day, and, eventually, summer break. Winter after Christmas was something to be endured more than enjoyed.
I’m learning to think about winter differently nowadays, especially after last winter. When I’d normally have filled much of the time with visiting friends and going to events, instead I stayed home and found ways to occupy myself. I revived some old favorite hobbies, such as getting out my knitting needles and yarn I’d been saving for a special project, and took on some new endeavors. I learned how to make a few new types of bread – an especially enjoyable task on a cold day – and experimented with blending my own herbal teas from the lemongrass, rose hips, mint, and other herbs I’d grown and dried over the past season. It was especially helpful in the midst of the icy cold to have those reminders of warmer days, and the prospect of being able to spend time outdoors without layers of gear.
This year, I have a quilt to baste and stitch up. It’s massive, and made of thousands of little yellow hexagon pieces so that it looks like a piece of honeycomb filled to the brim. I’ve spent the last four years basting hexagons and piecing the top. It seems unlikely that I’ll manage to quilt the entire thing in a single season, and that’s fine by me. The sunny colors and good memories of time spent sewing in parks, on friends’ couches, and cozied up at home will help fill the long, slow winter nights. I’m eager to learn a new skill – this is the first quilt I’ve ever made – and to have a bit of brightness and cheer waiting in the living room whenever I get time away from chores.
How do you fill winter days and nights, and do you count the days until spring or find the season restful? I look forward to hearing your responses and sharing some in our pages to come. Write to me at CWilson@Grit.com, and I’ll see you in March!