Yes, winter is definitely coming. If you're a Game of Thrones watcher--and I am, at least for the time being, with the caveat that the minute they kill off Tyrion Lannister I'm gone--the phrase carries with it a thrill of danger and menace--white walkers with unearthly blue eyes appearing out of a year-long snowstorm, threatening the end of civilization.
No, not that kind of winter. Just an ordinary winter, bringing with it all the ordinary and utterly predictable miseries, discomforts, and blahs. I love the changing of the seasons--the first few warm days in spring, and the first few cool days in autumn. Once summer or winter settle in for real . . . not a fan. Especially not of winter.
So I'm going through my usual start-of-winter routine. Reminding myself, to begin with, of what I dislike about winter, and then countering that with what I do like.
The first part of the double whammy is the dark. You'd think a night owl like me wouldn't mind so much, but I do. Getting up in the dark, and having the light disappear in what feels like the middle of the afternoon--depressing. So I remind myself that at least I live in times when we can make plenty of light to counter the dark--and thanks to the new LED bulbs, leaving a million lights on to lift my mood won't be nearly as expensive as the air-conditioning of summer. And since I no longer commute to my day job, no more commuting home in the dark. Worst comes to worst, I can always get one of those lights that simulates daylight to help people battle seasonal affective disorder. Meanwhile, I'm focusing on a mental picture of myself sitting in my comfy reading chair, with a pool of light spilling over my page.
That mental picture also includes an afghan over my feet. Hate the cold, especially cold feet. The afghan's at the ready, along with a thermal blanket for days when the afghan isn't quite enough. And I've got the electric floor mat set up under my desk. My home office, where I spend long hours not only writing but blogging, Facebooking, and emailing, is almost a basement, and has linoleum flooring over concrete slab. In the summer, that makes for a pleasantly cool environment, but in the winter the floor gets pretty frigid. Thank goodness for the electric floor mat, along with the electric mattress pad that lets me take the chill off the sheets at night. Much easier than the hot water bottles I'd be constantly filling in olden times. But still: brrr.
Cold. Dark. Ugh. And some of the predictions are for an unusually cold and snowy winter this year.
But there are consolations. I filled my birdfeeder today. I don't bother with the feeder in the late spring and summer, when the birds can find plenty to eat all around them. But when the winter starts setting in the way it has today--gale force winds and temps heading for the twenties--I set up Cafe Andrews. One feeder on the deck, visible from the kitchen window. One on a pole outside the sliding glass doors at the back of my office. I have a chair by the window, and a place to stash my camera, and I can paparazzi the birds to my heart's content. That gray winter light--yeah, not exactly cheerful, but it makes the colors pop. And there's something about the winter landscape, pared to the bone, that's more interesting to photograph. And then when you add in snow--glorious! I prefer snow that gives good photography opportunities without shutting down the power or the roads. But as long as I've got my camera, I'm cool.
Okay, I'm sure there's something else I like about winter . . . I've got it: the end of one garden season and the time to start planning for the next. I was not a particularly good gardener this summer. Too many other things going on. Didn't do much planting. Or weeding. But that's the great thing about gardening--every year you get a fresh start. Okay, if you had a diligent season, your garden's in better shape than it was last year this time. But if you didn't--it's okay. All is forgiven. You've got the next few months to plan and make resolutions. As a gardener, I'm definitely at my best in winter.
I could probably think of a few more things I like about winter, but I think I'll leave it there. Taking pictures. Planning my garden. And being able to spend time tucked up in my comfy chair with a good book.
Although if anyone wants to suggest any other silver linings to the clouds of winter, I'm all ears.