The following is a guest post by Wes Gietz, a former mentor and friend of mine. Enjoy!
Here we are, looking through a misty window at a combination of short days, grey skies, humidity, and what seems like a constant drip. Winter can be a hard time to enjoy being outside near the Salish Sea.
Excuses are abundant: it’s too cold for gardening, too grey for feeling good, too wet for cycling, too warm for skiing, too windy for walking – it’s just too much.
But we live here anyway, don’t we? By choice, in most cases. So why not make the most of it? As the saying goes, why not have fun until you enjoy it?
Really now, there’s no excuse for feeling down. Birds and animals do fine. I’ve never see a critter with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Trees still stand up, dancing in the wind and glistening in the rain. They’re beautiful with needles or with bare branches. Sometimes they even hang on to their berries or apples well into the winter, reminding all of us why they do what they do.
Winter weather is no reason to fall victim to Nature Deficit and the ills that accompany it. What to do?
- Get outside in daylight. Stare at the brightest spot in the clouds, and drink in the light. Never mind the dark; look for the light.
- Remember that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. Get out your water resistant or waterproof coat. Put on some synthetic wicking fabrics. Wear boots, even if they’re Wellies, or prepare yourself not to be annoyed by wet feet. Better yet, go outside barefoot in the rain! Treat yourself to some real reality!
- Go for a walk in a storm, or at least in the wind. Walk down by the ocean and watch the gulls. They are truly magnificent flyers, coasting across a wind and swooping up like Jonathan Livingstone. Look, really look, at rain falling on water. Lift your face and taste the rain.
- Go out at night. Where’s your favourite walking place? Go there after dark – there’s lots of dark in the middle of winter here – and see how absolutely transformed the landscape is when all you have is a headlamp or flashlight. Then turn light off and stand for a few minutes. Magic will happen as your eyes adjust, and your hearing sharpens in response to something deep inside.
Adjust your attitude! Feel admiration for the juncos and deer. Watch the irrepressible enthusiasm for life of the chickadees. Notice the beauty in the overwintering plants.
See differently. See different things. Look at the buds on the trees. Notice how the alders and the hazelnuts already have their catkins, and watch how those catkins grow in February into amazing long dangling strings, getting a jump on spring that makes most even the most optimistic gardeners envious.
Look at the skeletons of the leaves lying on the ground as they go back into the earth. On a cold morning, you might be treated to frost flowers, those delicate beautiful white curves of fine ice that emerge from waterlogged wood when the night freezes.
Then go back inside. There’s nothing like a cup of your favourite when you’ve earned it. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find to your surprise that once you’ve warmed up again, all you want to do is get back out there again.
I’ll be looking for you.
Wes has studied and practised natural skills and beliefs for over forty years, with pauses as required by the necessities of love and life. He has been taught by Tom Brown Jr. and Native teachers the skills of survival and living, awareness, and philosophy, the ceremonies of daily life, and the ceremonies and responsibilities of the sweat lodge. He has studied Coyote Mentoring with Jon Young and is regarded as an elder by many. Visit him at Windwalker.ca