Someone must have been playing a big joke when the universe ordained that I be born on a cold, gray January day in cold, gray Hartford, Connecticut - insurance capital of the Western world. Ha ha, very funny. The truth is, I'm not a big fan of winter. I start shivering just about the time when we turn back the clocks, and can't get rid of that bone-knocking chill until it begins staying light well into the evening again.
For a girl who grew up in New England, escape was the only answer. Yet somehow I still manage to find myself in cold climates. I know, Australia is supposed to be warm, but not Melbourne! I might yet make the move to the tropics, but for now I have to face facts and learn to embrace winter. There are actually many things to love about the colder months, and I've compiled a little list as an exercise to psyche myself up for the blustery days ahead.
1. Hot chocolate. Need I say more? There's nothing like curling up with a big mug of spiced hot chocolate and a good book. It's a great way to pass...
2. Evenings by the fire. Okay, so my old single-front worker's cottage doesn't have a real fireplace, but there's still something cozy about huddling in the lounge room with my partner and my dog, electric fireplace ablaze, all of us reading or watching movies or typing away on our laptops (dog excluded - he's more likely to be sticking his snout on the keyboard, angling for a pat). It's a snuggler's paradise.
3. Hot baths. I love a good soak in the tub, complete with essential oils to relax my mind and candles to set the mood. I like to follow an evening bath with a cup of chamomile for ultimate relaxation.
4. Soup. So simple, so satisfying. Sometimes in winter my body cries out for a warm meal, and soup just does the trick. One thing I've learned on my raw journey is to take it slow and listen to my body, so if my body says, "Cooked foods, please!" then a big bowl of homemade soup is my answer. And if I want to keep it raw - preserve all those lovely enzymes - I simply heat it slowly over a low flame until it reaches baby bottle temperature, or leave it a bit longer in the blender until it gets warm. I love making a pumpkin soup using veggies and herbs from the garden, and I am dying to try this Butternut Squash Coconut Soup from Raw Epicurean.
5. Cups of tea. I drink herbals teas constantly year-round, but in winter they're all the more appealing. Peppermint, rooibos, green tea, lemongrass, sage, ginger, chamomile, and on and on. I can't get enough. For my birthday, my amazingly insightful mother gave me a book about herbs called 2009 Herbal Almanac and I can't wait to read more and vary my tea regimen accordingly.
6. That crisp, clean feeling in the air. I associate it with falling leaves, jack-o-lanterns, hayrides, and apple picking. You can't take the New England out of the girl! We don't have all the appropriate accoutrements of autumn here in Melbourne - it even comes at the wrong time of year! But we do still have lovely crisp mornings, those first days of sweater-wearing and digging out of hats and mittens from the depths of the closet. And it is a relief to know it's never going to get cold enough for me to wear my deep-winter jackets from back home.
7. Red wine. I spent 2 1/2 years living in South Australia, land of shiraz, so I learned to love a hearty red. And you just can't drink them on hot summer days. So bring on winter, and with it a nice drop o' red. These days I try to splash out with moderation, and I prefer to drink something organic and preservative free - if I'm avoiding nasty chemicals in my food, why on earth would I want to drink them in concentrated form in my booze? My favorites at the moment are Kalleske from the Barossa Valley and Seresin Estate from Marlborough. Yum.
That's a good start towards get me feeling a little more positive about the cold days to come, and I am actually feeling kind of warm inside now! Time to go do a little yoga practice to stoke the internal fire.
Please share your favorite things about winter via comments...I am needing all the encouragement I can get!