There is a theme on social media (started by Twitter account @not_just_tired) for sharing your ‘joy in winter’. This idea got me thinking about the joy in winter but also other parts of life which we don’t automatically always see the joy in. I don’t wish to sweep under the carpet any issues which need to be action-planned, talked out or medicalised, but just as a theme for a few blogs, to find joy regardless, is my aim.
I am starting off with winter, as this is something I wrote about looking forward to, last summer, as well as it being the original inspiration for this blog. Living on a narrow boat, I’m always getting asked questions like ‘where do you moor for winter?’ and ‘aren’t you cold?’. You will find the answers nestled within the words below, as I nestle beside the fire.
The quiet. Already for this category of ‘joy’ I wish to create sub-categories and perhaps even colour-code to other areas of the blog and I have to remind myself that this isn’t one of my famous spreadsheets. My point is, the quietness of winter has onion-like layers. There is quiet on the water, the towpath, in nature, and of people. There are fewer boaters, dog walkers, long distance hikers, kayakers and cyclists in the winter.
Fewer boaters means fewer boats going past, and those that do travel still (rather than shut themselves away in the ‘safety’ of a marina), generally go at a more civilised (slower) pace which means a more gentle rock from the few boats that do go by. The quietness also makes it easier to jump out of the boat with our particularly enthusiastic dogs, so that we may be able to walk them a bit before they decide to become voraciously acquainted with another canine minding its own business.
For my final point on quiet, I make an ode to the wildlife. I often hear the hoot of an owl to send me off to sleep, and the birds at this time of year wake me up at a more reasonable hour. In knowing that fewer people make it down the squelchy towpaths, I also know fewer people see the winter nature like we do. While I would love more people to experience it, the rarity makes it all the more precious.
The cold. This morning it was cold enough to walk on the normally muddy towpath like it was concrete, it was so cold. The miles of twinkling lights from the frost are on some days only to be seen in the early and late hours. We get to see this twinkling from our position, half embedded yet always moving into different landscapes. I’m naturally a ‘cold person’ so need to layer up going outside, but the fresh cool air on my face I often find cooling to my hot, painful head. And then there’s coming back inside to the warmth of the fire…
The burning fire. Relating to the cold but deserving of its’ own subject heading, is having a fire on. 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Chopping the wood might not warm me twice but it does do Tom, and I’m very grateful for him being my wood chopping champion. For my part, I get extra warm from being close enough to cook on top of the fire. Alternatively there are piping hot, crispy jacket potatoes which go in the fire, next to the glowing embers. This fire is plenty warm enough on your average British winter’s day, and with a few extra blankets, the bedroom – furthest away from the fire – hasn’t yet been too cold either.
The dark. However much I watch the minutes of sunrise and sunset in the early months of the year, eagerly anticipating the longer days, there is some joy to be had in the dark. The majority of this joy is in the mornings for me, when I know if it’s light outside, it’s probably about time I got myself out of bed, no matter how much my body wants to stay curled up. Using the natural daylight rather than the routine, persistent alarms I was using a year ago is pleasure enough to not mind the lack of light later in the day.
I’d love to hear your joys in winter in the comments below.