Meteorological winter might have started on 1st December, and astronomical winter might not be due to start until 21st December, but as far as I am concerned, winter started on the day I needed to get the ugliest coat in the world out for the first time. That day was yesterday. Just to be clear, the coat isn't really that ugly and what it lacks in aesthetics it more than makes up for in warmth. That is what was needed as I set out for my late evening walk last night. I know walking after dark isn't always ideal, but I'm quite obsessed with getting my steps for the day in and although it was very cold, there was a crispness to it so I didn't find myself slithering about the pavements.
Hibernation has been popping up a lot in what I have been reading online, sometimes in unexpected places. I have been particularly enjoying the people pointing out that trying to uphold summer productivity levels in winter is a capitalist construct and the preserve of humans alone, whereas other mammals hibernate. I don't know if it's true, but climbing under my duvet and staying there until it's above zero degrees seems fairly appealing right now.
The trick of course is to embrace the good bits of winter as much as possible. I dug deep into this last year, attending a workshop on developing a winter mindset, reading Wintering by Katherine May and put some strategies in place to celebrate the darkness. Getting the festive lights up and decorating the house appropriately helped enormously.
Trying to follow on from this, last week I spent some time thinking about how we can prompt people to continue to connect with nature during the festive season and that's where the idea for our winter wonder wheel on our website came from. We wanted to collect a range of different ideas so that there is something for everyone, whether you can get out to walk regularly or whether you'd rather spend winter connecting to nature through your window. Just to prove it works, I've been enjoying spinning it and putting the idea into action. Fortuitously the first prompt I got was to feed the birds. I definitely needed to clean out and refill the bird feeder, but even more importantly, given the current temperature, I needed to make sure there was unfrozen water out for the birds. Do check out the RSPB website for proper guidance on what the birds appreciate most in winter. Today the prompt was to make a twig star. This was one of my favourite videos from our first nature advent(ure) calendar, and although I've not managed to get out and collect any twigs today, I can see that the star I made back then is still doing its duty hanging at the end of the garden. You can check out all the videos we made in 2020 over on our YouTube channel for some more inspiration. Another spin the wheel prompt is to listen to some nature related festive music. Stepping away from traditional carols, check out the spoken word and nature disco from Caught by the River. In fact, check out everything by Caught by the River; their weekly newsletter delights me every Friday!
With the days being so short it can be difficult to get the time to walk in the daylight, although I make an effort to get out at lunchtime which gives me the opportunity to keep noticing nature. Today I spotted the single yellow leaf on the wintery apple trees in the picture. The moon has also been awesome this week, thanks to the clear skies. With the moon rising in the the early afternoon, it has been possible to see it in daylight. It took my breath away yesterday, one of those moments when you realise how small you are and how big the universe is. One of the names for December's full moon is the Full Cold Moon, and the moon on a frosty night really brings that name alive. For great moon updates check out Lia's Living Almanac updates on substack. My final recommendation for the month is also over on substack and it's the Wintry Mix from Keri Leibowitz. Fortnightly updates on how to slow down and savour this time of year from the expert in improving your winter mindset. That's the permission I needed to refill my hot water bottle and have a quiet evening.